March Update

Wow! It is already the middle of April and I have been so busy it has been hard to write the report from March. Starting with the most exciting news first….

Muslim Hands France will be sponsoring two of our projects! The organization will contribute $7,500 towards the TabLabs in schools and $13,500 for scaling up the FEEL street kid project. We will be scaling up to 20 boys in May, hiring a project manager, teacher and cook, and growing like MAD! With the $5,000 Shuttleworth Foundation matching grant we are fully funded to go.

The schools project is about to get underway as we have the funds and are now comparing sources for solar, tablets, and LEDs. We have a consultant in China, Stefan Raither, joining our team for sourcing. We are also considering what is available in the US or Dubai. Any great minds want to join the conversation?

We are still looking for one Catholic donor to sponsor the local Catholic school, the only private school we work with for $1000 to buy 10 Tablets. The school is by far one of the best in the city and the students would really be helpful in assisting kids at the other schools as a social service. This will be done alongside the Christian Social Service Committee and if it works, we will replicate it throughout the Catholic school system in at least Lake Zone.

Back at the farm, the boys continued the agricultural project and we have started planting local seeds. It was difficult to find organic seed here so we decided to plant the food we had which had come from a rural area in the farm. And it is growing! Remarkably well in fact. We will be adding the squash to teach 3 Sister Companion Cropping as soon as I can manage to get some seeds saved from one at the market. Farming is intensive.

We had a fantastic coconut harvest although we quickly learned the fruits are not very valuable wholesale despite the fact they have one year to grow. We are working to find ways if using every part of the coconut. We are never ones to waste anything here in Tanzania.

We have 2 new additions to the animal family with Oreo, the baby bunny, and Bonanza, the little kitten. Ducks are doing well with the exception of the giant monitor lizards who keeps stealing the eggs. The boys and I are working on designs for modular chicken coops using shipping crates. Although we have not seen it done elsewhere before, we think it could work nicely. Experimentation at its best. For technical advice and support, we have a new volunteer named Phil who is a missionary with the African Inland Church to help teach us Conservation Agriculture. This is mainly the same as permaculture but it is more focused on the compost and the natural soil cycle. I think it will work well for our rice crop to be planted in April. We are STILL looking for volunteer, knowledge, and skills sharing in permaculture and sustainable agriculture. We have a classroom full of kids and an idyllic place to practice.

At the end of March, our partner the African Woman Foundation, we assisted in the launch of the Women Centered Care Project in Magu, Tanzania. This project aims to improve maternal healthcare in small and remote villages through technology.

The project centers on three key issues:

1. Data Collection and dissemination to and FROM the communities through community groups SPECIFICALLY about maternal health challenges and solutions. Data has also been gathered from 13 local dispensaries in Magu District and 13 dispensaries in Busega District using the Magpi.com software tool. It has been fantastic to use technology to come to better understand the needs of the medical institutions. Without information on the needs we cannot rise to the occasion with solutions.

2. Solar powered TabLabs with Nurse Assistant Application for Android installed. We will be testing a new app named the Nurses Assistant. It is a smart app in that it allows for the choices people make to lead them to the next set of instructions. This app is specific to health care workers in working in maternal and reproductive health and can basically replace the entire maternal and birth registration for the country of Tanzania if rolled out effectively. We require 13 sponsors at $25 each for the solar power in the dispensaries.

None currently have a sustainable power supply and this is the first issue the medical staff would like to have addressed. Additionally it is required for the functionality of the Tablets. In these TabLab we will be using Samsung Note 8” for software testing. Later the software will be released on Google Play store.

3. Supplying dispensaries with what they need. This is critical, easy and cost effective strategy for instant impact. These dispensaries currently receive less than 5% of the stocks that they order and most do not even have working blood pressure cuffs. Imagine.

Here is a link to the press release: http://prlog.org/12304297

Here are photos of the event courtesy of Lulu, from the blog Lulu in Magu a volunteer for the African Woman Foundation:

The link to Lulu’s very interesting blog is http://luluinmagu.com/

March also blessed us officially with a new partnership with Afya Connect for Change, a local Tanzanian NGO. We will be working in faith based schools and medical facilities throughout the Lake Zone. Our first task is to improve the workflow for implementing their Hospital Management Information System, AfyaPro, in 21 district level healthcare facilities. The software, AfyaPro, is programmed in C# and we plan to have a team of intern developers hack it into a Swahili version for Android with a smart interface. This will allow both systems to work together allowing for a continuum of care like has never before been witnessed in Africa. I know it sounds dramatic, but in all seriousness it has the potential to create medical records where none previously existed and thanks to GPS technology map the location of people’s homes for better care from Community Health Workers.
I realize this is a long post. Congratulations if you made it to the end. Thanks for hanging in there. We have been growing quickly and there is much urgency in our work. We have found some problems and we are testing solutions. We appreciate and respect comments, feedback, and ideas. If you want to contribute and have no resources we have a number of virtual internships available.

Blessings to all.

February Update

Voices of Africa has been very busy this February! We were able to get the one acre farm plot as we had hoped and have been busy learning about and tending to the ducks, fish, tomatoes, and other crops. The two natural springs honestly just spring out of the Earth and provide water through the entire farm. We have 4 boys who have joined us in our work and they have been occupied digging the drainage canals and getting the beds ready to be planted.

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Right now the hardest task is the infrastructure development. The pond and the ecosystem are already mature. The previous farmer was not concerned with the “how-tos” of planting and somehow seeds were sown as if by the wind. The soil when turned is a deep black. They call it black cotton soil and it is amazing at holding moisture. If we plan it properly with irrigation trenches we should be able to get three harvests year. That is a whole lot of food to provide nutrition to these children and many more.

Our RocketHub campaign generated $700. We used the funds to buy farming tools for the boys, textbooks, fare for Jumaa to come to visit from Mombasa to bring two laptops. One laptop was for Forever Angels, the orphanage next door, and another was for the boys. We want to thank Sima Marine for their kind donation and hope they will be pleased with the difference their contribution has made. The boys are now learning to do online research about agriculture in Kiswahili. These funds also bought food and paid our local staff for a month.

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We are now getting to the learning application phase. A compost pile is going and we are hoping to build a vermaculture project in the near future. We are looking for volunteers with hands-on permaculture experience to join us for a little while and help us to set up the proper systems and to teach these kids permaculture principles. If anyone is interested please contact us at innovation@voicesofafrica.org.

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For our educational programs, March 3rd we launched an IndieGogo campaign to enable us to create TabLabs in local Mwanza schools. We are asking for your support to bring tablet devices powered on solar to classrooms without basic educational materials as an interactive learning tool and textbook substitute. Every child should have the opportunity to learn the basic information required for functioning in society. Computer programming is its own language and can be taught with no words in almost any tongue. Other Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics apps are freely available and we believe will post the actual achievement of the individual students who use the software.

Our healthcare project with African Woman Alliance is going well as we finalize the Facility Audit application and are beta testing it in facilities. We will have some interesting facts to share later in March about how maternal health projects we are supporting Lake Zone communities are progressing.

March is shaping up to be another great month thus far but we would have to spill the beans all at once. Watch for the next update the first week of April.

Thank you as always for your support.

Voices of Africa

 

African Woman Alliance: Safe Births

African Woman Alliance: Safe Births:

Women's Clinic

During the course of my work with African Woman Alliance I have learned tons about the maternal health system in Tanzania. As a techie, I am in a different position than the doctor and midwife I work with. They are fantastic clinicians and I cannot believe what amazing things they can do. It is a shame there is not a way to clone them to send to each and every medical facility in the country.

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Hey Mama!

A shout out to all the Mamas out there! I want to say that I am proud to be one of you. I want to ask you a question. Have you ever had the urge to help a child even though they were not your own simply because they needed it? Do you ever think about how you would be different if you were born somewhere else? Say Africa? If you are reading this online in English, you are a fortunate soul.

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Mapinduzi Ya Kidijitali!

 

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Voices of Africa is creating a digital revolution in Tanzania using technology to help street kids, pregnant women, healthcare providers and school children!

Join us! http://goo.gl/7PqR0G

 

Final Day for Voices of Africa RocketHub Campaign

Our RocketHub campaign will be finished tomorrow Feb 28 at midnight. We want to thank everyone who gave in advance!
Asante sana!

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Voices of Africa was indeed able to get the farm, but through means other than the fund raising campaign. It came through the form of a partnership with the African Woman Alliance with whom we will work to help in the field of maternal health using tablets and Android app in the Lake Zone for two years. We are able to hire one person onto the project to help coordinate the activities in the schools and clinics for 6 months through this campaign. Additionally, Voices of Africa will be able to feed 4 children for a month and help them to learn basic computer skills!

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Our computer project is stalled at the moment because of unforeseen expenses and the fact that we do not have the 5 naming sponsors required to finish the project. This setback may be a set up for something better as we await word from some exciting potential partners.

There is still some time left if you would like to give to this campaign. All funds received from NOW until the end of the campaign will be used to feed and buy basic needs for street children. You will know where your money has gone as we will post pictures right here on this blog. We don’t just say it, we want to show it.

 

Marow’s Basin

 

Marow's Basin

This is Marow. Marow is 13 years old and he lives between the rocks in Mwanza as he has nowhere to call home. When we met Marow he was washing clothes in a broken basin with a very small amount of water and no soap.

When we asked what he needed he said he needs more food, soap, and work.

We can help provide these basics to Marow and children like him. Voices of Africa only has 5 days remaining on its RocketHub crowd funding campaign and we ask you to help. A week of food for a child is $6.25. Soap is $0.70. As for the work, we have plenty of that to share.

Can you spare $7 to provide the basics for one child for a week?

Check it out at:

rockethub.com/projects/37680-fund-food-kids-and-fun-in-tanzania

 

Beautiful horrible places

I am in love with beautiful horrible places. Mwanza is one such place. The lake it picturesque and the views divine. Yet disease runs rampant, poverty destroys lives and breaks families. Children are frequently abandoned due to lack of food. The environmental elements are spectacular, but the human suffering is equally astonishing. Recently, I heard stories of babies dying from mothers in Magu because “there was no one there to catch them when they were being born”.

Kids in Lake Victoria

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Sustainable development through information empowerment