It is presented to you by Partners of Tanzania’s Relief and Development, a U.S. based charitable organization whose purpose is to support AFREDA, a Tanzanian NGO that implements community development programs in rural communities.
At 31 years of age, Tatu asked herself, “How do I dare get an AIDS test?”
She was silent and afraid. She was afraid that her nightly outings to earn money from commercial sex to supplement her income were too risky. But how else could she feed two growing boys, aged 7 and 15?
In the cool of early morning, she would go to the retail shop where she borrowed several kilos of rice, beans and oil on credit. She cooked at home and spent the long hot hours of the day hawking meals at 35 cents a plate [50 shillings]. At the end of the day, she paid the shopkeeper and found herself with 35 to 75 cents profit, not enough to prepare a meal for two boys who loved soccer.
At 15, she had dropped out of school pregnant with her first child. Her boyfriend had left for the capital city. Worn down, she wondered how she could earn more money. Then a neighbor told her about a training session for women to learn about business. Tatu signed up and two weeks later, she began her classes with a group of 19 women, some of whom are pictured here.
The Action for Relief and Development (AFREDA) trainers explained how to calculate the costs and profits of a business and Tatu finally understood why she couldn’t turn a profit. She hadn’t calculated all of the costs of her meals. She learned to focus on what her customers wanted. The next week, she asked some customers how much they would pay for a better meal with meat. Based on their comments, she borrowed $70 dollars [100,000 shillings] from AFREDA. Although she had to pay it back with 10 percent interest at the end of the month, she felt confident that her plan would work. The next week, she sold fewer meals but at a higher profit, making between $4 and $6 dollars per day. After paying off the first loan, she took a second one to invest in selling cosmetics. The profits were good and she didn’t even have to cook!
At the training, Tatu heard about the new drugs to prolong the lives of those who caught the dreaded ukimwi, HIV. The head trainer told the story of an HIV positive woman who had gotten the drugs, gained back her strength and returned to work her fields. That was enough for Tatu. She got tested. “I could not believe what the doctor said to me, ‘Tatu, for this result you are safe [HIV negative], but you will have to come for another test after three months.’ When I went for the second time I tested negative and now I believe that I am safe. I am free from HIV/AIDS.”
Tatu’s sons gobble down three meals a day and Tatu can pay for their school fees, books, and uniforms. No longer lingering near the road late at night hoping for a man to pay her for sexual favors, she falls fast asleep after managing her businesses and teaching younger women about the benefits of joining women’s self-help associations.
“When I was practicing commercial sex, I used to be very shy and I always feared people. Every time I met people even in social activities like weddings or funerals I was very quiet. I thought they were looking at me as a sinner,” Tatu said. Recently, the Juhudi [Achievement] Group elected Tatu as their group chairperson.
About the organizations:
Tatu received her training from Action for Relief and Development Assistance, AFREDA (www.afreda.org), a Tanzanian-run and led NGO headquartered in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. Founded in 1990, AFREDA promotes the wellbeing of disadvantaged women, men and children in Tanzania through community-based empowerment programs. They are committed to excellence in the four pillars of their programming: leadership, professionalism, accountability and community participation.
Two years ago, Carol Wessner formed the Partners of Tanzania’s Relief and Development, a U.S. 501 (c) (3) organization to support the efforts of AFREDA and their Executive Director, Dennis Muchunguzi. Dennis had gotten to know Carol as an International Senior Fellow in Philanthropy at the Johns Hopkins University Center for Civil Society Studies in Baltimore. Persuaded by his compelling work among the poorest of the poor, Carol enlisted the support of three local board members: Char Mollison, a faculty member at Johns Hopkins and former vice president at the Council on Foundations; Tamara Copeland, the executive director of Washington Grantmakers; and Robert Buchanan, President of the El-Hibri Charitable Trust and former managing director of international programs at the Council on Foundations.