23 Apr

Learning never stops

EdPowerment never allows long school breaks to stop or interfere with the progress of our sponsored students. And their education extends past the classroom.

Here are two of our vocational tailoring students visiting one of the finest shops in Moshi to have their work critiqued and learn how to finish their own products better.  We are grateful to Irene, who has spent her valuable time working with Monica and Lucy so that these young women can turn their degrees into paying jobs.












Here are William and Amina, two of our sponsored students, sharing their knowledge with others at the Kilimahewa Centre for Education and local neighborhood.  The best way to test one’s own understanding is to teach. While serving others, they develop confidence and presence, two skills all our students will need once they pursue employment in a limited economy.2016-02-02 21.54.30 (1)



14 Mar

Unexpected Success and Backstories


Last month EdPowerment’s 8 Form Four graduates learned that all had scored either Division I or II on their national exams.  These results open the doors for them to continue to Advanced Level (Form 5 & 6) High School on a university track.

We have a strong personal relationship with each of our students.  And we think that it is this relationship – all the nurturing, support (non just financial) and encouragement – that has enabled each of them to succeed. Right now they participate in our THRIVE program of classroom and computer instruction at the Kilimahewa Centre for Education and community giveback.

Here are 3 very edited backstories to give you an idea of what their smiles represent!

MW is one of nine children – the only one to survive – a blessing that also has been a “curse.” Her father disappeared from their soil hut compound to escape its misfortune. Her mother, convinced that witchcraft or other evil conspired against her, struggles with mental demons. At times, M has been the victim of her mother’s illness. She is a survivors in every sense.  At the time that M gained a sponsorship to Form 1, her grandmother was her source of comfort – but sadly, her “bibi” died when M was in Form 2. Every break M returns home where roles are reversed as she tends to her mother.


Here MW teaches local secondary school students in a makeshift classroom by her home.



RL also teaches children – in this case primary school students – as part of her community service.









RL has endured perhaps the worst of conditions among EdPowerment’s scholar-leaders. Rozina captured a sponsorship in one of EdPowerment’s Discovery Contests. Her mother had died; her father was in prison; a nearby uncle produced no income; and so she lived with her bibi in a flea infested stick and soil hut that also housed a few domestic animals. After R began secondary school, we realized that the upheavals in her childhood had left her struggling psychologically. She was dismissed from one secondary school and thankfully another school agreed to accept her, while we accessed counseling for her when and wherever possible. In Form 3, the hut that R and her bibi shared began to disintegrate from rains. EdPowerment paid local laborers to construct a new one made from soil bricks. R continues to help her bibi and younger stepbrother as she waits to begin A level high school.


NK rides his bike through the hilly terrain to attend our THRIVE classes every day for Form 4 graduates waiting their placements

NM’s life since beginning his sponsorship in Form 1 has been filled with enough trauma to derail most individuals. To begin with, EdPowerment had to fight against his shiftless father’s wishes just to enroll him in secondary boarding school. His mother, his strongest advocate, constructed (herself) a sturdy soil hut in which she raised N and his two siblings. But in Form 3, N returned home to find that it was no longer his home! His father had traded the plot for one farther away on poor land considered “cursed” in the community. In return the father got a pikipiki (motorcycle). N’s mother left the father and since then, N continues to juggle pressures in a disruptive home life and still succeed in his academics and neighborhood.


23 Oct


As promised, here is the next update on our students as they move toward self-sufficiency.



This October, eight of EdPowerment’s scholar-leaders graduated from secondary school – Remember, what we consider high school in the U.S. is divided into secondary school “O” level (Form 1-4) and high school “A” level (Form 5-6) —
These 3 young women and 5 young men are now prepping for their Form 4 National Exams. Once the results are in, we will work with them to plan their next step to high school, or to certificate or vocational studies.
IMG_2514 image
As always, our goal is that their studies lead to (1) a better understanding of their world and their role in it and (2) gainful employment.

Here are some of our happy Form 4 grads. Hongera – Congratulations!

19 Oct


First the beginnings: Our university students

It’s official. Elizabeth, Veronica and Teresia will begin university studies in a few weeks. Veronica and Teresia will start B.A. programs in Education and Language Studies, respectively, at the University of Dar es Salaam, one of Tanzania’s most highly regarded colleges. Elizabeth has achieved her ultimate goal: acceptance into a Doctor of Medicine Program at St. Joseph’s University, also in Dar.

Teresia, Elizabeth (center) and Veronica at Elizabeth;s Form 6 graduation earlier this year.

Teresia, Elizabeth (center) and Veronica at Elizabeth;s Form 6 graduation earlier this year.


Each of these young women was cut off from formal education in 2010. Such talent and possibility snuffed out at the age of 13.

Now they will become self-sufficient leaders in their communities and countries. This part of their journey will not be easy as each of these women lack any financial or family resources. EdPowerment, however, will be by their side all the way to provide the support – financial, emotional, psychological and educational – that they will need to celebrate their next graduation and their next beginning – a career.


15 Oct


2010 marked the beginning of EdPowerment, Inc., a 501c-3 US non-profit with a mission to improve the lives of discarded teenagers and autistic youth in the Moshi area of Tanzania through education. EdPowerment integrated three programs to deliver a range of educational services and advocacy – support for the KIWOCE, the community based Kilimahewa Educational Centre, Tomorrow’s Scholar-Leader Sponsorship program, and Connects Autism Tanzania, recently registered as a Tanzanian NGO.

Each program has advanced remarkably in 5 years. Hands-on steering from US management and honest, dedicated service from Tanzanian management and teachers have enabled this impact.  We will be recapping our five years in our end-of-year annual report, posts and mailings. Here is the first visual story of the Kilimahewa Educational Centre – then and now.


entire classrooms scrubed



Pictures from our initial renovation – sprucing up the two room building and enclosing an outdoor patio for added teaching space.





Today student’s enjoy 3 large classrooms with black and white boards, a media and library center and comfortable desks for learning.  Internet allows online teaching.  Courses range from academic subjects such as math and English to a roster of computer, financial planning and agricultural classes. Thanks to funding from Go Campaign, another US based NGO, and a Rotary Global Grant, the Kilimahewa now serves all village constituents – teens, adults, advanced and slow learners, and even other teachers .







26 Sep


This week we lost a tireless supporter of EdPowerment’s work in the Kilimahewa and surrounding villages, Bob Deiss. Without Bob, the Kilimahewa Educational Centre would not be the vibrant, multi-purpose haven for learning that it is becoming today. Kerri Elliott, EdPowerment’s Director, wrote the following tribute to this exceptional human being.

UntitledIn 2012, I had the luxury of meeting Bob Deiss. Bob was a kind and generous man as well as a dedicated humanitarian. I met Bob through the Antioch Rotary Club. As the advisor of the District 117 Interact club, I was introduced to Bob as someone who had recently moved to the Antioch area and was looking to support people in any way he could.

Around the same time of his arrival, I had been working tirelessly on a Rotary Global Grant application to support EdPowerment’s student sponsorships in order for our ents to attend universities. After a year and half of working on the application, we learned that Rotary International’s Global Grants would not fund student sponsorships, despite support of local Rotaries. I was frustrated, stressed, and ready to give up. That is when I met Bob.

Bob sat down and listened to everything EdPowerment was doing in Tanzania. He spent time reading our website and our blog. He asked questions about all our programs. Bob helped to pinpoint programs within our organization that Rotary International would fund, and he helped me rewrite our grant application. He worked with me a few hours every week for over a year to write a grant that would to benefit the Kilimahewa Educational Centre and community.





Whenever I was ready to throw in the towel, Bob said we could do it. Whenever I was frustrated, Bob said he would help me. And whenever I was tired and unsure, Bob said, “ Let’s ve a glass of wine and we will figure it out.” With Bob’s help, and his glasses of wine, we wrote a grant application to secure $66,250 in funding. Backed by his Gantz charts, and budgeting skills, we developed a solid project that in the end won approval.

The goal of our new and improved global grant application was to provide teenagers and community members in the area of Kilimahewa, Tanzania with the knowledge, competencies and tools to achieve self reliance and a way out of poverty.

The $66,250 we were able to secure with Bob’s help is currently been used to:

  • Develop a Digital Literacy Program using solar technology, computers, software programs, Internet, and projectors. Since this project started in January 2015, we have educated over 70 students and community members on how to use computers, navigate Microsoft programs and the Internet, create email accounts, and learn independently through digital materials.
  • Develop an agricultural skills development program to teach students and community members how to use various farming methods to create solid agricultural projects that will yield income for themselves and their families. By the end of this year Kilimahewa will have a new greenhouse, an organic farm, a rabbit farm, and
    a fish farm. These also will enable the school to teach best farming practices.
  • Provide 105 people with physical disabilities in Moshi and Arusha areas with wheelchairs so they can navigate their environments and live more independently.

I am currently living in Tanzania, working to make this vision a reality. We are in year one of this two-year grant. Because of Bob’s persistence, patience, and desire to help people, we have the funds to make these undertakings possible

Bob was a remarkable person with a huge heart and a wonderful way of using his skills to benefit others. Bob epitomizes what it means to be a humanitarian. Meeting him not only inspired me to keep going, but it paved the way for many vulnerable children of Kilimahewa to keep going as well.

In honor of Bob and his hard work, and in coordination with the Antioch Rotary Club, we will be installing a plaque at the Kilimahewa Educational Centre in his honor. Although our vision is not yet complete, I know Bob will be looking down on me and even in the toughest of times he will slip me a glass of wine and say, “Keep going, you can do this.”



17 Sep


Frank Lema is the Computer Program Manager at the community-based Kilimahewa Educational Centre. Frank came to us by way of a Rotary Global Grant that turned the computer training started by EdPowerment into a comprehensive computer/internet and media center.   Frank was not a teacher. He was an Internet Technology professional. But the best teachers are born, not made.  DSCN2466 (3)

Here’s an example of Frank’s creativity and dedication. Earlier this year, he was teaching Microsoft Word to a computer class of 13/14 year olds while Ben, an exceptional social worker on assignment at Kilimahewa as part of the Africa Volunteers Corp., taught the students English.

In Frank’s words:

My idea was to help students understand the meaning of every English word before they memorize it from their readings.


Students working on the Stone Soup assignment

 So, we gave them some interesting stories from our library books, broke the stories into parts and gave a part to each of the students. Their task was to read the parts, use English-Swahili dictionaries to find the meaning of every new English word they learn. Then, we had each one to stand at the front, read his/her passage and translate it to us all in Swahili. We also asked each of them the meaning of some English words from the passage.

 We think this is helping them learning new vocabularies and memorize them. We can already see their great progress in speaking English.

 In my computer class, now they are typing in MS Word, so I asked them to type their parts from the Stone Soup book to their laptops, by this, they will be learning to use Word but also work on their English.


Ben working with a student on grammar using Stone Soup

Frank also shared this assignment:

For this coming weekend, we have given them another job, to prepare a custom TV News show. We gave them different segments (local news, intl news, sports, weather forecast, commercials and business news). They prepare their segments in Swahili, then they start translating to English and on Monday they should be ready to run the show! With this, they will again learn lots of new vocabularies, practice their English speaking, and also learn like how to say time, temperature and so forth.  We both have high hopes with this class.



Frank and Ben are two key reasons why the Kilimahewa Educational Centre is such a beacon for learning in this community.

16 Jul



Yesterday, Tanzania released the results of its National Form 6 Exam. For those unfamiliar with Tanzania’s educational system, their “high school” is actually two years (Form 5 & 6) that follow secondary school (Forms 1 – 4). Students can matriculate at a University only if their Form 6 exam scores allow.


Our wonderful news:

This May, three of EdPowerment’s sponsored students graduated from high school. Yesterday, we learned that one of these students, Veronica, scored “Distinction” on her Form 6 National Exam and the other two students, Teresia and Elizabeth, scored “Merit.” All three scored high enough to gain acceptance into a University – a process that will take place over the next two months.

These three young women were not dropouts – they were left-outs. Because of family and financial factors, their schooling was interrupted far too early. EdPowerment saw capability and desire in each of them and sought out private boarding schools where they could complete secondary education, succeed in the Form 4 National Exam, and continue to high school. Today, they have attained a precious milestone… Form 6 results that will permit University studies.

We are so proud of these
teenagers who grabbed the opportunity offered by EdPowerment and worked so tirelessly for 6 years, often despite personal hardships, to make their dreams a reality.

22 Jun


In the past week, EdPowerment and its volunteers cast our educational net to include (1) guardians of our students and (2) other teaching professionals. By advancing the knowledge of parents and teachers, we enhance the prospects of our students.


Mama Grace with the guardians of many of our students.

First, we tackled the idea of savings. For many village “peasants” this is a little understood concept. Many distrust banks and many more struggle so much with today’s demands that they simply don’t grasp how putting away even “kidogo” – a little – every week, will help them achieve a personal goal. In this case, the goal is to build a nest-egg, so that when their Form 3 students graduate from the Boarding School (currently funded by EdPowerment) they can continue to vocational or high school studies. Without this next step, it is unlikely that their children’s secondary education can turn into an income-producing job.

First our management met with volunteers from Cross Cultural Solutions to plan out two weeks of classes for guardians on the very basics of financial management and savings.IMG_0271 Surprisingly, it did not take much for many of the mamas and babas to get the concept of compounding. Our enthusiastic volunteers, Lily and Dan Gehring, worked through numbers to illustrate how savings can grow – and the last day of the workshop, a representative of EXIM bank talked to the group,   re-ieterating many of the points made by the volunteers. Of course, our technology team led by Frank supported these presentations. Once again, the collaboration of staff and volunteers yielded an invaluable educational event. 

And this past weekend, our autism/special needs advocacy program, Autism Connects Tanzania, broke new ground by presenting on intellectual disabilities and autism to special needs teachers at the invitation of a private school in Moshi.


Grace Lyimo and Kerri Elliot went to Hope International where they outlined different intellectual disabilities, elaborated on autism and its symptoms, and then worked through case studies with an engaged audience of educators.


Florence joins Tanzanian educators in a case study discussion.

Two volunteers from the U.S., Florence Simcoe and Connie Pantel, a social worker and special needs teacher, attended the workshop, adding their insights to discussions that have only just begun in the Tanzanian educational system.

Teacher evaluations called for more such workshops where they can share and learn,



Empowerment through Education is a mission that  encompasses the entire community.

22 Jun


Committed to the community, The Kilimahewa Educational Centre, supported by EdPowerment, now serves a growing range of students. 

Just take a look at today!



  • taught writing techniques to Abdallah, a secondary student with cerebral palsy, (assisted by Kerri)
  • taught English revision to Form 1 students on semester break
  • taught English to a local businessman


  • taught life skills projects to Pre Form 1, Form 2 and Form 4 Kilimahewa teens (including those with special needs), assisted by RebeccaIMG_0511.JPG


  • taught math to Form 3 students on break
  • taught chemistry to Form 5 students on break
  • prepped one of our Form 5 assistant teachers on her lessons to Form 1 math


  • taught a mixed group of 7 individuals Microsoft Publisher
  • taught the headmistress of a nearby school Microsoft Office basics
  • taught 2 government water employees how to use ExcelIMG_2775


  • taught map skills to Form 3 students on break
  • worked with Form 4 graduates on history

Moira, visiting from the U.S. for two weeks,

  • taught intensive English classes to Form 3,4 and 5 students on break

AND... Rebecca advised one of our young adults how to register to vote, while other students worked independently in our library.

= one day’s work at a Center dedicated to all who want to learn.