#Repost from @lovelyree with @repostapp
That knowledge be so bright… don’t forget ya shades! #thirdeye #open #clairvoyant ☆☆☆☆ #rockstarchild
#Repost from @keshiaknightpulliam with @repostapp #SpelmanWoman
"The Business of Entertainment: Is My Child A Star?". I am so exited to announce my very first acting seminar on October 25th 2014 in Atlanta, Ga… An interactive workshop & seminar for both parents and children (7-17yrs). For more info & to purchase tickets go to www.ismychildastar.eventbrite.com ••••space is limited••••
#SunSalutations at #Sunrise are a great start to your day. #YogaHeals #Yogini #YogAddicted #BlackYogi
Amanda Filipczuk is Co-Founder and Managing Director of Tusaidiane. After 2 years of working domestically, she decided to take her social justice concerns to the international level.
- You’re the Co-Founder and managing director of Tusaidiane, tell us about the work you do and how that came about?
Since I was a young girl, I daydreamed of going to Africa and Tanzania in particular. I remember sitting on the floor of my living room, looking at National Geographic magazines, and being in awe what I saw on the pages. The Serengeti Plain, Ngorongoro Crater, Mt. Kilimanjaro, Maasai, Hadzabe, and Great Rift Valley were, and still are, fascinating to me. So after years of thinking about going to Tanzania, in 2010 I did. The premise of the trip was to get practical field experience before beginning Master’s level study in Women and Gender in an International Context. What was supposed to be a 3 month trip turned into a yearlong experience during which I came to know, love, and respect a group of women who were willing to push the bounds of their existence by starting a women’s group.
It all started when, after presenting a seminar before a rural community, a women in the audience came to me with question written on a scrap of paper. My male translator refused to discuss the question with us because it was a ‘woman’s issue’, and dropped the women’s inquiry altogether. That instance sparked my interest and got me thinking… could there be a need for a women’s issues forum in the village?
I decided yes, and sought out a female translator, my trusty and current partner Rahabu James, to present a women’s only seminar series in the community. The turnout for the first seminar, about women’s emotional health, was great with about 40 women participating. After 6 weeks of seminars we had a core group of attendees speak up and express an interest in official organizing. Upon there suggestion, we announced the formation of a women’s group and 90 women appeared to take part. Together, we wrote a constitution, elected leadership, and chose a name, ‘Tusaidiane’, which means ‘Let’s Help Each Other in Kiswahili’. From there we registered ourselves with the government and have been carrying out activities since then.
Tusaidiane’s core activities operate on 3 levels: economic, emotional, and educational. Economic aims are met via a hardship fund and personal and group savings plans. We conduct activities and workshops, often with the women in small groups, to meet emotional aims, and informational seminars and skills training to satisfy educational goals.
Tusaidiane also has a handicrafts project wherein the members engage in a number of creative activities such as jewelry making, sisal weaving, sewing, and utensil carving. The items they create are displayed at our fundraisers and available in exchange for a donation; the women’s wages are taken out of the donation.
Tusaidiane administers the “Mobility Matters” bicycle program as well. Thanks to globalbike of the USA, the group was recently given 30 bicycles which the members rent for everyday use, like fetching water or transporting market produce. A few bikes are set aside for medical emergency use as well; if a member has such a need, there is no fee for use.
- How does Tusaidiane interact with Wanawake?
Being the Co-Founder and primary leader of both groups, Tusaidiane and Wanawake interact mostly via myself. I act as sort of a bridge between both worlds to communicate the needs, wants, and perspectives of each group and coordinate activities to (try to) satisfy the aims of both. Two Wanawake Board members have visited the group themselves this year, and both say seeing the women and the context with their own eyes has made a huge impact on their involvement with the organization. Wanawake has a fb page which displays all that’s happening in Tanzania while I am in country, and it’s a great medium through which our followers can view Tusaidiane activities and progress. We also display videos of Tusaidiane activities during our events for our followers to see.
- What does your average day look like when you’re working in Moshi?
A typical day here in Moshi looks something like this… get up between 6am and 7am, sweep the veranda (almost all women here sweep first thing in the morning!), then sit down at the laptop to browse the internet while I ‘wake up’ with some hot lemon water. I also answer emails and messages, if there are any. Then I get some exercise, either running, resistance band training, yoga, or a combination of sorts. Sometimes when it’s raining, like today, I get my ‘Jane Fonda’ on with an exercise video inside! After a shower and a meal, I get to more serious work. About 4 days of the week, I go to Newlands, the village in which Tusaidiane operates. I live in Moshi town, and it’s about a 1 or 1 1/2 hour trip to the site. While in the village you might find me consulting with my partner Rahabu, overseeing construction of the Community Center, coordinating seminars and/or group activities, attending meetings, eating my favorite local meal of beans and greens with lots of pili pili sauce, directing and participating in handicrafts production, or just spending time with people. On other days, I do work in town, which could be grant writing, reading current international women’s issues literature, collaborating with colleagues to further mutual interests, and meeting up with guests to share the group with newcomers.
- A lot of people who travel for long periods or work abroad find it difficult to re-assimilate once they return home, do you find that?
Yes, I do find it difficult to re-assimilate when I return the US. Nearly everything is different. There are the obvious material differences like architecture, nice roads, level and availability of information technology, amount of consumerism and advertising, electricity and running water, even HOT water, everywhere, toilets you can sit on, types and conditions of motor vehicles, clothes… and most of those things are generally nice to be surrounded by again. But the social differences are tough to overcome. The pace in the US is blindingly fast compared to here, especially when speaking of the lifestyle in Newlands. In the US, it seems people connect with each other on very shallow levels, or try to avoid connection altogether; they avoid eye contact, don’t speak to each other much, are in a rush, have earbuds in as they walk or ride. There’s a lot of focus on individualism and ‘me’, all the time… Even if you schedule a ‘date’ with your friends or family, often people are hammering away on their smart phones and not ‘really there’. It’s totally different here. Tanzanian people are incredibly warm and welcoming. People stop to talk to each other, and they smile at each other too, lots of big smiles here. They eat in big groups, and always have enough food for a passerby or guests that may drop in. There’s little to no pretension. There’s a sense of community wherever you go. People take their time to accomplish things, and if they don’t do everything they thought to do… well, they just do it tomorrow because it’s not the end of the world! People here are very grateful for each day they have because amidst so many hardships, like lack of healthcare services, transportation inefficiencies and dangers, lack of access to water and electricity, and few employment opportunities, having another day is to be appreciated.
Another nice thing about going back to the US is that I will be less visible. People here love to greet, and it’s endearing… though an obviously foreign female walking alone elicits a continuous stream of hello, mzungu (foreigner), how are you, i love you, be my wife, hi baby, where are you going, and the like. I think it will be nice to walk down the street without being constantly approached in some way or another… but even as I record these thoughts, I feel sure I will miss the openly social nature of the people here!
- How can The Women Who readers find out more or get involved?
You can find out more by visiting our website www.wanawakewomen.org and visiting our fb page www.facebook.com/wanawakeinc; we welcome inquiries via either medium.The fb page has the most up to date information and images about what’s happening on the ground in TZ. You can also check out a recent write up in the Huffington Post: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/ari-nessel/eight-ways-to-knit-a-comm_b_5739822.html.
For those with the means and time, we encourage at trip to Tanzania to visit the women’s group and see the rest of the country as well. A shorter trip would be to one of our US based events, such as our 3rd Annual Fundraiser 2 Oct. We also have events throughout the year which will be announced via our website and fb page. And of course, donations are always appreciated and can be made via our website. They are sure to be put to good use.
I’m so impressed with Amanda! We went to high school together and since then she’s been saving the world.