Archive for the ‘Blog’ Category


By on October 14, 2016 | Category: Blog,profiles,Uncategorized | No Comments

Meet Namekoa!
She is the second girl from our pilot class who we proudly send to university now. She is 23 years old tomorrow she will leave for Dar Es Salaam to attend nursing school. Here you see her with her 7 year old son, whom she has to say goodbye to now as he will stay with his grandmother here in Ifakara. To say thank you she has just presented me with rice, a pumpkin and a papaya, harvested by her and taken from the ration she will live on for the whole year! This is the best salary I could ask for and once again reminds me of how meaningful and beautiful our work is for these girls. Seeing them successful and thankful makes me so happy and humbles me at the same time! Kazin njema, Namekoa! Good luck, Namekoa!

Regina Mbangali

By on September 8, 2011 | Category: Blog,profiles | No Comments

Today we want to introduce you to Regina, one of the students who has been with us since September of last year, and who has impressed us time and again with her dedication, passion, and hard work.

Regina comes from a tiny village outside of Ifakara.  After completing primary school, Regina was denied all opportunities to advance herself. The only option she saw for herself was to get married.  However, after she became pregnant, her father chased her away from home and told her to go and live with the man who had impregnated her. The boy and his family, in turn, refused to accept her into their house and denied her any support.

Despairing and dejected, Regina tried to return to her father’s house.  When her father hesitantly took her in, he laid out a number of conditions and set out to punish her by constantly mistreating her.

When Regina heard about the her opportunity at the Bakhita Girls Program, she asked the boy’s family if they would take care of her baby while she went to school.  They reluctantly agreed, and Regina went to live with her aunt in Ifakara, where she is now attending a Bakhita Girls partner school.  Because of the distance to her village, she is unable to see her child often.  Despite feeling very hopeful and relieved for being back in school, she misses her child very much, which makes it harder for her to perform to her full potential in school.

Despite her story and her daily struggles, Regina is a source of energy and a radiant heart of the Bakhita family. She is always cheering and empowering us with her strong and brilliant smile, which never seems to come off her face. You can often find her sitting at the very last row of tables in the class, shying away from participating in heated discussions but fully engaged in what is discussed. Regina is known for taking excellent notes but she would never admit to this. We continue to work closely with our partners at Techfort Secondary School to ensure her progress, success, and continued smile.

You can join us in this endeavor by sponsoring Regina, and committing to pay for her tuition, uniform, books, and academic support and by visiting our contributions page, where you can explore and find different ways to give.

Maria Msokami

By on August 25, 2011 | Category: Blog,profiles | 3 Comments

Maria is the oldest of three children and since her parents’ divorce, she has been living with her father and stepmother in Ifakara.  Maria got a chance years ago to attend a governmental public school far from Ifakara, after passing the Standard Seven exam successfully. Maria’s father objected to her attending the far-away school, and insisted that she enroll in a local private school instead. Maria obliged, but it soon became clear that her father had no intention –and indeed no ability- to pay for her school fees and tuition. As a result, her private school refused to service her and she was forced to stay at home, idle and disappointed.

All of this, until she heard about the Bakhita Girls project. After being selected to participate in our program at Bravo Secondary School, she devoted herself fully to school and became an outspoken voice for her classmates. Thanks to the efforts of the Bakhita Girls support staff and the work of our partners at Bravo, Maria has not only been excelling academically, she has also increasingly become recognized as a legitimate representative of her fellow students, constantly taking it upon herself to eloquently express the wishes and concerns of her classmates to our staff and her school administrators.

Maria’s rhetorical skills were, in fact, on full display earlier this year, when she participated in a National Debate competition that was aired on Tanzanian National Television. Here at Bakhita Girls, we see very bright things ahead for Maria, and we are doing our best to cultivate her passion and develop her skills so as to ensure that she has the necessary tools to go on and become a leader in her community and country, just as she has become a leader of her class. Hopefully we can get used to seeing Maria on TV more and more often.

You can join us in this endeavor by sponsoring Maria, and committing to pay for her tuition, uniform, books, and academic support and by visiting our contributions page, where you can explore and find different ways to give.

A Night of Music, Art, and Philanthropy

By on August 9, 2011 | Category: Blog | No Comments


By on March 25, 2011 | Category: Blog | No Comments

As always, Hans Rosling provides some data-backed sources of inspiration. It is actually fascinating how so many women in the developing world spend so many hours every day washing clothes or cooking on coal-fed makeshift stoves. It hardly ever escapes notice. I would pause, however, before asserting that time freed up by a washing machine would be spent reading or engaging in intellectual adventures. It seems to me that a major threshold would need to be passed in an individual’s education or lifestyle in order for her to substitute “free” time for reading and intellectualizing. How many “free” hours do we, in the developed world, spend on totally mindless activities?

Glimpses from the First Days

By on January 22, 2011 | Category: Blog | No Comments

The Bakhita team visits the plot of land where construction recently began on the school's administrative building.

Builder, Deo Kaberege, leads the team around a proposed school property lines.

Managing Director, Mohammad Barkeshli, tests out the newly completed MSABI well, installed in the village of Kapolo.

Managing Director, Mohammad Barkeshli, and volunteer, Natalie Olshevski, meet with Swahili and Geography teacher and teaching staff co-ordinator, Mr. Fendey, to discuss the upcoming school year.

The Bakhita team gets advice on lesson planning from the headmaster of Techfort secondary school.

Students give an impromptu Swahili lesson to volunteer, Natalie Olshevski.

Student, Joanita, listens to a discussion of extracurricular activities for the new school year.

Habari kutoka Ifakara (News from Ifakara)

By on August 29, 2010 | Category: Blog | 2 Comments

Here’s the latest from Patricia Schneidewind, our founder and director. She sent me her first blog post this morning and I’m putting it up for her. Enjoy:

As most of you know, I am currently at our project site, and writing from the “Bakhita House,” the project base camp.  I have been silent far too long regarding the incredible progress we are making here in Tanzania, so I want to use my first blog post as a chance to tell you the Bakhita Story.

Ifakara, home of the Bakhita Girls Project, lies in one of poorest regions in Tanzania.  Although it is the district capital, the town cannot even be reached by a paved road. The government for the most part neglects the region, and the development projects I have seen have been far and few between.  It is almost impossible to find milk, yoghurt here, and the standard of living is very low, even in comparison to the rest of Tanzania.  The only main effect the recent year’s economic growth has had on the region is the increasing brain-drain where only few people ever return, due mainly to the lack of infrastructure and job opportunities and rural/urban migration where many girls end up as child laborers, street children or sex workers.

To date, only 5% of the Tanzanian female population is attending secondary school, and only very small minorities of this 5% come from low socio-economic backgrounds.  With the Tanzanian national poverty rate being 41.6% it is impossible to grasp the millions of girls who are denied access to schooling.  This leads to the inevitable conclusion that if only 5% of girls are attending secondary schooling, and because Ifakara is such a comparatively underdeveloped region, that the percentage of girls in school here is even smaller, simply due to the lack of access to educational institutions, especially amongst the overwhelming poor population here.  The need for a revolution is blatantly obvious.

The Bakhita Vision started to take form two years ago, when I first got involved in working in Tanzania.  Two years ago, while I was teaching at St. Dominic Savio School, I met Senorina.  And, as it so often is with two passionate women, dreams of change for the devastating situation so many young girls face surfaced continually.  Dreams of creating an all-girls school with an aim to assist girls, who face both gender-based and economic injustices in realizing their potential and living a dignified and self-reliant life through providing secondary education to girls who could otherwise not afford to attend school started to take form.  We dreamt of providing education to and re-establishing self-confidence and enable self-empowerment in young mothers, many of whom are forced to deal with disrespect and stigmatization from the community, but even their families.  We dreamt of Bakhita.

Two years later, I returned to Tanzania hoping to set up a pilot class for 10 to 15 girls.  But never in my wildest dreams would I have thought that by the second half of August I would be able to say we ARE setting up a pilot class. We have the classroom, the teacher, the cook (who will be providing lunches to the students free of charge for the students), a watchman (for the safety of the girls during the day and the school materials and property during the night).  And most importantly, 15 girls, two of which are young mothers, who are all very excited to participating in an orientation course for Form 1, which will focus primarily on making the girls more comfortable with studying almost all their subjects in English.  Furthermore, in order to facilitate both intellectual and social growth, in other words to launch Bakhita Girls as a platform for psycho-social support, we have hired a teacher who is a trained councilor and we will be conducting group and individual (when needed) counseling reproductive health skills, psycho-social problems and medical needs.

Starting next week, 15 girls will be sitting in our classroom.  15 girls will inaugurate the Bakhita dream.


By on August 29, 2010 | Category: Blog | No Comments

Oh hi

So there is a ton of good news coming out of Ifakara, from Patricia, who is basically carrying out all of our ground operations in Tanzania as of the moment. She’s been working her might off night and day –and I mean night and day- trying to ensure that our pilot class starts before her departure. That goal is looking all too realistic now, and it is perfect cause for celebration! (But I will let her talk about it herself. word has it that she’ll blog about the updates soon, maybe tomorrow.)

Also, Charles, our architect –without borders- is arrving in TZ tomorrow! (technically today.) He’ll be surveying our land, looking for local building material and trying to come up with initial designs for our first phase of building, and also with price quotes for our fundraising drives. stay tuned.

Meanwhile, I want to share two videos that I came across today, which may have nothing to do with anything, but have inspired me at least. One is about math teaching methods, and the other about visualizing data. As many of you know, I spend my hobby hours looking for cool data visualizations, so I’m now following this guy pretty closely.


By on August 18, 2010 | Category: Blog | No Comments

So here we go. New website, new beginnings, new people, new school, new classes. Over the course of the last three months we have been shocked, time and over again, by the pace of this organization’s progress. We have seen our team grow and flourish so rapidly, we have seen individuals find so many different ways to give and to participate, that often we have had to stop and remind ourselves: This is how it is supposed to be. We have had to remind ourselves, with so much energy, dedication and enthusiasm around, that Indeed, this is how caring-for lives within us. This is what doing-the-right-thing translates into.

This is our first blog post. I want to take its opportunity to thank a number of people who have made our progress these past few months possible, and oh-so-enjoyable:

Our thanks go to Harlan Hill, a dear friend from South Carolina, who answered our desperate call of help and designed the first draft of this website over night. I want to also thank MacGregor Harp for popping out of our blind spot and offering us a “new visual vocabulary.”

After many legal headaches and difficulties, we were finally formally incorporated as a non-profit at the end of July. I want to thank Pajmon Zarrineghbal, our administrative/ legal advisor and director, for always being there when we’d receive our rejection letters; for not throwing hissy fits like we did; and for solving every problem and making this happen.

I also want to welcome our new team members and thank them for sharing with us our passion and enthusiasm: Margot Terc (for always sticking to deadlines and answering promptly), Malika Henriques (for her passion and patience), Eric Friedman (for finding meaning in us and for giving us such expert advice), and Chayanne Khosravi (for his persistence and understanding).

From here, we can only go forward.