UNITE the World with Africa Visits SEGA
Anne Wells, Founder and Executive Director of UNITE The World With Africa, Reports on SEGA
Anne Wells is a global social entrepreneur and Founder and Executive Director of UNITE The World With Africa. This social organization connects Americans and Tanzanians to advance grassroots women’s health, education and microfinance initiatives throughout Tanzania. Anne had visited SEGA 6 years ago when the school was just opening its doors. Earlier this summer she visited the school again and was amazed at the progress the school has made…
In the six years since I last visited the SEGA Girls School in Morogoro, Tanzania, nearly everything has changed. In June 2009, SEGA was teaching just the remedial classes in rented space and the main campus was under construction. In my mind’s eye, I remember the campus as being just off the main road surrounded by wide open bush lands. Yet in reality the school is set back quite a distance from Morogoro’s single paved road over deeply rutted, 4-wheel-drive demanding, dirt roads that meander through farms, villages and fields of golden sunflowers. The bright red and orange of the gates and water tower is what first caught my eye. And while I have served as an advisor to the Board of Nurturing Minds in Africa for many years, and — through Unite — have been investing in SEGA even longer, none of my due diligence from afar prepared me for the miraculous grandeur of present-day SEGA.
As my team toured the school with our paired student guides we walked hand-in-hand along the manicured pathways; explored the fully equipped art studio, the air-conditioned computer lab and the warehouse-sized chicken coup crowded with thousands of squawking chicks; as we played netball together on SEGA’s professional-sized court and jumped roped in the breezy all-purpose, open-air building comfortably shaded from the African burning sun; as we shopped the students’ business club store for drinks, lollipops and cookies… I couldn’t help but wonder whether each and every one of the more than 160 girls who call SEGA home much of the year can truly understand the magnitude of their good fortune.
The simple and sad truth is that being a girl, a young woman, in Tanzania is difficult and often dangerous. Without SEGA, most of these girls, who all grew up in extreme poverty, would invariably face a lives of domestic servitude (to some degree), early pregnancy and multiple births, and the physical threat that follows every sunset and precedes every sunrise. Thanks to SEGA and the vision and remarkable commitment of Polly and her team in Tanzania and America, these girls have a real and fighting chance. Not only are they receiving a top-quality English-speaking education in a safe, clean, nurturing environment, but they are also being taught valuable life skills that will prayerfully empower them to break the chains of subservience and servitude that plaque so many village women. Many of SEGA’s girls will indeed go on to higher education, and yet some will not. Either way, in a heavily patriarchal country where unemployment and corruption is rampant, being able to provide for oneself is critical to one’s success and, often, to one’s very survival.
For years Unite has been garnering support for SEGA’s unique entrepreneurial and business education program. Most recently we awarded a grant to teach 35 students enrolled the school’s business club about starting, marketing, managing and growing small businesses and also to support 70 additional students in learning and implementing savings activities. In many parts of rural Africa, the concept of saving for the future is novel when surviving today is in question. Yet even a relatively tiny savings can grow over time and empower these girls, and others, a safety net that may just give them choices when they are faced with critical crossroads, such a when to marry and/or have children.
During our two half days together our team had a great time with the SEGA girls who were on campus. Thanks to the kindness and generosity of Discovery Learning Alliance, we were able to bring many educational videos to SEGA. While we were together we all watched a video about the three trimesters of pregnancy, in Swahili to ensure the students all completely understood the content. We played with the balls and jump ropes we had carried over in second suitcases. Lila Wells and Kitty Crosby taught the girls Kempo martial arts self defense moves and handed out Tshirts donated by Michael Nahan, sensei at the Kempo academy in Darien, CT. We delivered socks for the girls, all of which were donated by the Pear Tree School in Darien. We visited the home of one of the students. And perhaps most importantly, we hung out, talked and enjoyed each other’s company.
Our entire team was deeply touched by and thankful for the warm, loving welcome we received from Polly, her team and the students. SEGA is a beautiful, hard-working environment that draws you in, makes you feel comfortable and inspired, and where you just WANT to be. An extraordinary accomplishment… one Unite is so honored and proud to be a part of. Thank you Polly. Thank you SEGA. Thank you Nurturing Minds… for your continued friendship, partnership and support as we move ahead in our shared commitment to serve, educate and empower the marginalized youth and young women of Tanzania.
UNITE the World With Africa recently made a generous donation to SEGA and Nurturing Minds. These funds will specifically help:
1. Train 35 girls in entrepreneurial skills through hands-on experience in business clubs – this focuses on Form III students.
2. Assist the girls to diversify the products and services of the Business Club – resulting in 2 new products and increased income for the Form III girls.
3. Support 70 girls to learn and implement savings activities – Form III and Form IV students.