Karagwe, Tanzania

Tanzania flagLocation | Rural Western Tanzania, East Africa
Support | Community Initiatives in Tanzania
Service Opportunities | Working with water-harvesting, women’s rights issues, sustainable agriculture, construction, teaching in schools
Cultural and Recreational Highlights | Serengeti Safari, Zanzibar, crossing the equator, meeting with a traditional healer, Rwanda genocide museum, sports

Program Overview

KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERATanzania is known throughout East Africa for having years of peace, most often credited to the unifying national language of Swahili. Volunteers in the mountainous Karagwe Region will find themselves in a remote town where the majority of people are farmers subsisting on less than a few hundred dollars per year. Sadly, the AIDS epidemic, malaria, and other health crises have touched this vibrant community. Amizade volunteers work side-by-side with an impressive team of community members and organizers dedicated to improving people’s lives.

Amizade volunteers will within the community of Karagwe and serve with our partner community organizations. Volunteering frequently relates to supporting the installation of water systems on family homes, working on a sustainable farm, teaching in schools, working with a women’s rights organization, or managing creative learning camps. Service is only one component of the Amizade experience. Volunteers will also learn through speakers from local organizations, visits to local mosques or churches, and local cultural and recreational opportunities. Groups of Amizade Tanzania volunteers stay in a local guest house, while individual volunteers can be placed in a home stay with a local family.

Lodging A local guest house or homestays (for individual volunteers) | Food Lots of fruit and starches, some fish, some chicken

Flights Through Europe or the Middle East; very long | Visa Yes, obtained at the border or the embassy

Communication Cell networks, sporadic internet | Closest Airport Kigali, Rwanda or Entebbe, Uganda

Our Community Partners

Mavuno | The Mavuno Project is dedicated towards meeting rural development aspects with special references and emphasizes to education, health, agriculture, environmental protection and sanitation, appropriate technology, women and youth development, needy children assistance, HIV awareness, light feeding, and water assistance.

Family Alliance for Development & Cooperation (FADECO) | This grassroots community organization focuses on empowering local community members to support themselves economically, increasing nutrition and preventative health practices, and providing educational technology and resources that will lead to community-driven plans for sustainability. Located in the rural Kagera District just beyond the energy grid, this organization has helped:

  • bring the first radio station and the Internet to their region
  • design a solar food preservation system
  • implement rain water harvesting
  • and continuously educate the local community.

tan2Women Emancipation & Development Agency (WOMEDA) | This women’s organization focuses on increasing economic and human rights by supporting members of the community through legal procedures and training programs. WOMEDA:

  • provides free legal and educational services for women and children in Tanzania
  • Promotes gender equality through workshops on women’s and children’s rights, political leadership, and legal literacy.
  • Provides counseling services to families, and works with community members to ensure children’s rights.

Past volunteers have done qualitative and quantitative research for WOMEDA that enabled them to receive grant funding. FADECO and WOMEDA have also worked together through Amizade to provide rain water harvesting systems to families identified by the community to be in the greatest need.

Recent Successes

Over the past few years, Amizade volunteers have participated in projects related to community health including:

The Ota Initiative: The Ota Initiative works to create learning experiences for students during their two breaks from school in December and June. Ota aims to foster critical thinking skills that students will use to excel academically and in life in general; to provide a creative learning environment that will keep students engaged and learning outside of school; to nurture creativity and show children the power of their own ideas; to build self-confidence so that no citizen will be afraid to voice his or her ideas, and; to support and promote interest in the arts and sciences.

Clean Water Initiatives: With the generous support of the AllPeopleBeHappy Foundation, Amizade has been working with Mavuno, WOMEDA, and FADECO to install rainwater harvesting systems in the region. To date, because of Amizade’s work, 11 survivors of gender-based human rights abuses and their families now have access to clean water. Additionally, in the summer of 2010, Amizade helped to complete a tank that will bring clean water to over 300 schoolchildren.

Women’s Rights Research: Amizade service-learning students compiled data that demonstrated women walk an average of twenty miles to receive representation from WOMEDA. This information helped WOMEDA receive grant funding and supporting to continue its efforts.

AIDS Education Children’s Book: Amizade volunteers teamed up with local educators to design and publish a book in Swahili to educate youth about AIDS prevention. The pictures for the book were completed by Tanzania school children.


Plan a Program


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The Basics

Review the Amizade Tanzania Site Handbook.

Stay Engaged!

The Ota Initiative: Endings and Beginnings

The Ota Initiative

The Ota Initiative, aiming to foster critical thinking skills that students can use to excel academically and in life general, wrapped up its inaugural program for elementary school students in Karagwe, Tanzania in December. The Ota Initiative aims to build skills that students can use to become confident, successful, engaged and inquisitive citizens.

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The Ota Initiative

Two Amizade alumni, Becky Gailey and Katy Merckel, created The Ota Initiative, to give the children of Karagwe, Tanzania a…

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Africa: The Danger of a Single Story

A single story becomes that which we judge all other people from; it is a one-dimensional perspective of something that is actually quite complex. It is a misinterpretation of reality. It is a lens through which we look at everything from, it narrows our perspective, and once we know the single story, it becomes difficult for us to stray away from that. These stories often become the only stories.

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Rebecca Gailey

Amizade is proud to announce that 3 people in the Amizade family have recently been awarded funding from The AllPeopleBeHappy Foundation. Congratulations Becky, Sam, and Micah, we look forward to sharing updates on all of your projects!

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Siri ya maisha ni ujasiri – The secret of life is to be daring.

Local woman standing in front of the sign for WOMEDA

I find myself at the end of what has been, by far, the 3 most exciting and educational months of my life, and I’ve been given a simple task: write a blog about my experience. In the end though, all I can do is to try and to hope that I will be able to convey even a smidgen of the amazing experience that has been my life in Kayanga.

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Leaving Tanzania: Katy Merckel

The problem with travelling is that in the end, you are always just a visitor and you must go home. The world may be small, but a lot of places are pretty far away. This is the reality I am currently confronting, and if I thought about it too hard, I would probably not be able to take another step towards the door.

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Stories from Karagwe: Sikuelewi

Once upon a time, there was a traveller named Mzungu who visited Karagwe, Tanzania. Mzungu did not speak any Kiswahili, but he was full of questions about the area and was curious to explore. Upon arrival, he decided to take a day and tour the town and the surrounding mountains and villages. The landscape was amazing, nothing like he’d ever seen. The hillside sloped down into a river that snaked through the valley. Past the river, the green mountains rolled on into the horizon.

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Stories From Karagwe: The Search for Diamond

All throughout intermediate and high school, I considered myself a concert rat. At least once a month my friends and I would head down to Mr. Smalls or Club Diesel, usually being the youngest people in the crowd, to see one of the many bands we were infatuated with. These venues usually consisted of shoving crowds, mosh-pits, and crowd surfers. I’ve had my fair share of crazy adventures to faraway shows and completely ridiculous happenings, but none of these memories compare to our recent quest for Tanzania Bongo-Flavor Pop-Sensation: Diamond!

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Stories from Karagwe: How Was Africa?

My resume now includes: milking cows, hoeing weeds, fetching water and carrying it on my head, peeling green bananas, stiring ugali, cutting grass with a scythe, sewing with a foot pedal, cooking chai, hand washing clothes, blowing a blacksmith’s fire

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Stories from Karagwe: Honesty

Honesty and “Productivity” Didn’t Fit In My Backpack: The screams of the crows outside my window woke me up; I was a bit disoriented and my head felt as light as an air balloon. It was a Sunday morning and I was feeling the punishment from having too much fun the night before. My room was a warzone; a combination of clothes, readings and books covered the floor all the way from my bed to the door.

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Stories from Karagwe: Karibu Chakula (Welcome to the Food)

Have you ever wondered where your food comes from? Do you know the farmers who grow it or the chef who cooks it? When going to a restaurant in the United States, one rarely has the chance to meet the chef or see the kitchen. Knowing the farmer who sweat over the crops which make up that meal has also become increasingly difficult in our complicated consumer economy. I do not know if I will ever have a relationship with a chef or farmer at home and as clearly see where my food is coming from, like I do here.

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Stories from Karagwe: WOMEDA

This story begins with a woman sitting on a long, plain, wooden bench in an ordinary room in Kayanga town. The room was once painted a yellow-tan color but has since been decorated in scuffs, scratches, and dirt. The paint is rubbed off in places, and the ceiling is home to handfuls of wasps, migrating from their main colony to smaller ones nearby. The woman sits with her feet firmly on the concrete floor, her back to a wooden door latched with a silver and gold padlock.

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Stories from Karagwe:There and back again: A Tale of Water and Fire

March 18th was a beautiful morning with sun and a cool breeze. Seven students and two teachers climbed into a boat heading to an island off the Bukoban coast to visit the burial site of ancient kings. What they were not aware of however, was how this boat ride would be like nothing they would be prepared for. As the long, wooden fishing boat set off from the coast a line of swirling black clouds approached at high speed.

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Stories from Karagwe: My Tanzania Eyes

“The cloths are brightly printed and worn together in jangling mixtures that ring in my ears: pink gingham with orange plaid, for example. Loose-joint breaking-point colors, and whether you find them beautiful or find them appalling, they do make the women seem more festive, and less exhausted.” -The Poisonwood Bible, Barbara Kingsolver

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Stories from Karagwe: Forever Young

This blog entry is part of an ongoing series from Amizade’s semester Service-Learning course in Tanzania. Today’s entry comes from Katie Wozniak, a sophomore biochemistry student at Duquesne University. Since coming to Tanzania, death has slapped me in the face three times

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Stories from Karagwe: Ninaitwa Joyce na ninatoka Marekani

Be it funeral, wedding, or Sunday service, every time I enter a church, a silence sweeps the crowd as all eyes turn to stare. More than a few “mzungu ” (white person) are uttered under breaths as the ushers scramble to make sure I get a real chair and not a bench off to the side but in the front so that I’m visible to all.

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World Water Day

Today, March 22, marks the 19th World Water Day and there is a lot to celebrate! In the past, World Water Day has been a time to raise awareness about the millions of people who do not have access to safe drinking water, and while there are 783 million people who still lack access to safe drinking water, we would like to take today to recognize the incredible progress we have made on this issue.

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Stories from Karagwe: Kara on Religion

Most secular study abroad programs do not have regular discussions about religion. Our group consists of diverse religious believers in a country where asking about religion often comes before learning someone else’s name.

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Healthy and Safety

As you or your loved one prepares to serve with Amizade in Tanzania, you can rest comfortably with the knowledge that Amizade has an exceptionally strong safety record and ability to respond to any emerging challenges. We have safely partnered in Tanzania since 2003. For the most up-to-date health, safety, and security briefings, please review the following: