Maajar Trust, brainchild of grief that empowers

The Chief Executive Officer of The Hassan Maajar Trust says that the trust was established in memory of her younger brother, Hassan Shariff Majaar who died in a tragic road accident, on  November 10, 2006. He was 17 years old.   The foundation was launched on  July 11, 2011 by Mama Salma Kikwete. 

“The main aim of this foundation is to improve the learning environment for Tanzania school children. At first we wanted to focus on sports, art and drama, but we realized there were more severe problems facing schools -- shortage of desks.”Zena says his younger brother loved sports, mostly basketball.  He loved it so much that he decided to share his passion with Mbabane School for disabled where he taught them how to play the sport.

Seated in her office which she shares with two volunteers, Zena admits that it took time to launch the foundation because they wanted to do a proper research. “After my brother passed away, we decided to continue with his good work, and the reason why we didn’t launch early was because we wanted to conduct a research on how to go about it, the right way,” he explains.

Just below her office there is a charity shop where they sell shoes, handbags, accessories , household equipment, and clothes -- all assistance items given by  kind hearted people. “The charity shop helps us run our office, pay the rent, buy office equipments,” Zena says.Driven by the wish to ensure that every Tanzanian child has a conducive learning environment, the Hassan Maajar Trust works to mobilize funds for procurement of school furniture, particularly desks and chairs for schools in Tanzania.  Zena says: “The output of our campaign is to reach our goal that “No child should have to sit on the floor.”

As to where the foundation gets its funds, Zena confirms that they get donation from friends, families and an annual dinner gala. Last year, the foundation received 200 million shillings.  “We arranged a short dinner gala at short notice and managed to raise  that amount. This time round we hope to raise more money,”

They also raise funds from the general public through media by partnering with a popular TV station, social blogs, newspapers, Face Book, Twitter, text messages and encourage corporations to sponsor schools to procure desks and chairs.  Hassan Maajar Trust focus is to improve the quality of  classrooms’ environment to make the school the best place to be for all pupils and to tap the maximum potential of every child, academically and physically through sports by creating a conducive climate for learning and for sports in schools. The foundation aims at distributing desks for schools countrywide  with the help of people they have selected in five regions, Mwanza, Lindi, Ruvuma, Singida and Njombe. So far they have not handed over desks to any schools.

“We are in the process of selecting manufacturing companies, which will make desks of good quality. Our focus is to have good products that will last long,” she explains. But prevailing prices of timber are very high when the trust  wants quality product but at reasonable prices to save people’s donation from going to waste. Statistics supplied by the Ministry of Education and Vocational Training, in 2010 shows there is a shortage of about 3.0million desks countrywide.

“We intend to raise funds over a three-year period or less to cover the deficit so that every child has a desk and a chair,” she says. Hassan Maajar Trust, like many non-governmental organizations, faces a couple of challenges, but their biggest one is finding  manufacturers, who can produce good desk at good prices. At the same time we don’t want to import desks.

We want to use local manufactures.” Her message to the youth is that giving back doesn’t mean you are rich and have money. It could be a contribution of ideas, expertise or advice.  “I am happy that lately people have realized that the government doesn’t have to do everything for us -- we ourselves can make a change.

If we help ourselves we help Tanzania,” Zena says their goal is to reach as many schools as possible.  She is sure of success and adds: “It is a huge task but it can happen and will.”Juggling office and personal life along with conducting meetings for the foundations, Zena bases it all on her commitment towards society.

The current Board of Trustees constitutes of Mwanaidi Sinare Maajar (Chairperson), Shariff Hassan Maajar (Vice -Chairperson), Maria Josephine Kamm, Dr Eve- Hawa Sinare, Jonathan Sutton, Dr Sinare Yusuf Sinare, Daniel Mwasandube, Bertha Ernestine Somi, Amani Sinare (Treasurer), Joseph Kusaga and Joaquine De Mello.      

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