Who We Are

Patricia Schneidewind

Patricia Schneidewind the Founder and Director of Bakhita Girls. As director, she is primarily responsible for providing leadership and vision for the organization’s mission of promoting the academic, social and economic empowerment of underprivileged young women through education and psycho-social support. Her inexhaustible passion for gender equality and human rights, coupled with a singular dedication to self-sustaining, holistic and community-based solutions to sexual, social and economic injustice has helped define the innovative character of the organization’s mission and strategy.

A Catherine B. Reynolds Scholar at New York University, Patricia brings to Bakhita Girls substantial expertise on issues ranging from African history, politics and culture to economic growth and social development in addition to a wealth of experience and a keen awareness of cultural sensitivity obtained through years of learning, teaching, and working abroad. Originally from Germany, Patricia has lived and worked in 6 countries on four continents.


Paula ZimmermannPaulaPortrait

Paula Zimmermann is the Co-Director of the Bakhita Girls Project. She became involved with Bakhita as the organization’s first volunteer in 2015. Having supported the project through several fundraising events while still in the Diploma Program of the International School in Dresden, she then used the opportunity to go to Ifakara after having finished her IB. During her stay there she got to know all the girls, started an English support program and thought of new ways to support the girls. The time in Iafakra deepened her passion for human and women’s rights, which she is now pursuing professionally though law studies at the university of Leipzig.  The project grew very close to her heart and she initiated the plan for the Bakhita Community Center as a way to give further support to not only the girls but the community of Ifakara as a whole.



Ahmadu Fandey

Ahmadu Fandey is the first teacher of Bakhita Girls. He started his journey with us in August 2010 by teaching our first pre-form pilot class of 15 students. Now he serves as our Teacher Coordinator and acts as our main point of contact and representative in Ifakara. His vision and interests are fully aligned with that of Bakhita Girls, and he strives daily for the success of the project.  Mr. Fandy holds a diploma in Education from Morogoro Teachers’ College.  His vast experience includes teaching at numerous governmental teachers’ colleges and secondary schools.  Additionally, he has completed a three year counseling training at the Morogoro Teacher’s College and has been actively involved in providing counseling to youth in matters of life guidance, human rights, adolescent sexuality, family problems, sexual abuse, early pregnancy and early marriage, drug abuse, health and sexually transmitted diseases.

Mr. Fandey’s background growing up as one of seven underprivileged children in a harsh socio-economic environment inspires him to help and support Bakhita Girls. To him, this program is a portal that will provide girls and women with the opportunity to learn, become self-aware and raise their voices.

Mohammad Barkeshli

Mohammad Barkeshli PhotoMohammad co-founded and served as the Director of Bakhita Girls for more than three years before moving on to his current role as an adviser. He has been responsible for supervising the organization’s operations both in New York and in Ifakara, managing our staff and volunteers, maintaining our donor and advisory networks, and building partnerships with local governments and non-profits. His ardent enthusiasm for sustainable development and his belief in education as a basis for socioeconomic growth has contributed to the organization’s expansion and progress. Mohammad’s work and continued involvement has ensured the sustainability of our work beyond the initial pilot phase.

Mohammad has brought to the organization a dossier of experience from working with The United Nations Economic and Social Council, UNICEF, Foundation for Sustainable Development, Full Circle Fund, ORAM International, and Global Glimpse.