Our guest blogger, Daudi Msseemmaa, traveled to Tenende in August
2011. Daudi and his wife Kellen are directors of Empowered Girls, and
have been involved with Chocolate University’s efforts for the people
of Tenende since 2010.

Soon after the first Chocolate University trip to Tanzania, the students who traveled discussed ways they could help their peers at Mwaya. We identified a problem —  54% of girls were dropping out between the first and second years of secondary school. Together with Mwaya’s headmaster and teachers, we looked at specific ways to help.

1. Textbooks

Chocolate University donated $5,000 for textbooks for Mwaya students. A few months later, Southeast Rotary in Springfield, Mo., donated another $5,000. We bought hundreds of textbooks from wholesalers in line with the national curriculum, and transported them from Dar es Salaam all the way across the country to Mwaya, which previously had no textbooks.

Headmaster Sedekia called the students to ‘parade’, a sort of morning assembly, to dedicate the books and bless those who donated them. ‘’Before, when we had no books, this could not be called a school,’’ he said. ‘’But now, this can properly be called, a school.’’

Local craftsmen built several bookshelves in a school office, which has become a library. Students and teachers check out the books as they are needed. In the school’s severe shortage of qualified teachers, access to books gives resourceful students a chance.

2. Empowered Girls

The program aims to teach girl students life skills for success. The club at Mwaya was founded in January 2011 after a big, eye-opening girls seminar. Chocolate University began funding the program at Mwaya.

Big seminars take place periodically, In most big seminars, hundreds of girls huddle in the shade of a great tree and professionals in the community have dialogue with the students about particular life skills. Smaller internal seminars take place every other Friday. And an essay contest gave girls a chance to put critical thinking skills to work and display what they have learned.

The most recent national exam results for the school show that there’s a long way to go – especially for girls. On the exam, 36 out of 41 girls failed . We want to continue to have a positive influence on the girl students – in ways both measurable and intangible.