On Dec. 11, 2014, the nonprofit organization Asante Sana for Education Inc., or ASFE, was honored by the remote village of Mnindi in Tanzania and the country’s government for the construction of a primary school.
The ceremony was attended by the Founder of ASFE Ashley Washburn, Parliament member Dr. Shukuru Kawambwa, Tanzania’s Minister of Education and other government officials.
Asante Sana means “thank you very much” in Swahili and Washburn was inspired to create ASFE in 2010 after she volunteered at pre-primary and primary schools in Tanzania. “Day to day it seems like it’s taking so long and year to year so much has gone on,” Washburn said.
Despite being a fairly young non-governmental organization, the latest primary school was the second school built by ASFE and its donors. The first primary school was built in June 2011, in a village called Mogogoni. Prior to the construction of that school, Mogogoni children had to walk five miles to get their education.
In addition to building schools in impoverished communities, ASFE creates a unique learning environment for students in rural Tanzania to connect with students in the United States using Skype.
“One of the first Skypes we ever did was to connect my Tanzanian students with my other passion which is the Covenant Preparatory School in Hartford, Connecticut,” Washburn said. “I thought that these kids and my kids over here have so much in common and I wanted them to meet each other, not just through letters, so we tried Skype.”
The Student Empowering Students program for secondary students works to teach Tanzanian students English communication, writing and hands-on computer skills. These traits are especially valuable in an environment such as rural Tanzania, where electricity and access to the internet are limited.
Members of the program are provided funding for tuition and school supplies, as well as medical expenses, in order to minimize the impact of factors that prevent poor children from getting an education.
The Parents Empowering Parents Group was established to ensure that students of the program get after school support in their studies from parents and guardians. Members also take the opportunity to use ASFE to improve their own English and computer skills.
“The last five years have been challenging, frustrating, joyful and have made me so proud,” Washburn said.
– Marie Helene Ngom