TAHEA: Enabling the Power of Community-Based Organizations to Bring Change

Founded in 1980, Tanzania Home Economics Association (TAHEA) works every day to empower families and communities experiencing poverty in the Mwanza region of Tanzania to transform their lives socially and economically. This is done through education, training, information sharing, and consultancy services. TAHEA supports full inclusion in the communities and works with small community-based organizations (CBOs) from a strengths-based approach to enhance what families and communities already have.

TAHEA's goals in its work with CBOs are

  1. To enable individuals, groups, and communities to develop the confidence, understanding, and skills to support the education of children. This includes trainings to support individuals in providing and managing community needs related to education.
  2. To provide professional development to strengthen the ability of community groups to build infrastructure to better define and achieve their objectives. This includes planning and managing community projects and developing partnerships with other CBOs.

One of TAHEA's newer initiatives, VUTAMDOGO (Pull the Little One), is a project focused on improving literacy and numeracy among children in their early years of primary school. The project looks for ways to collaborate with individuals outside the classroom to improve and promote literacy and numeracy skills in after-school programs.

VUTAMDOGO supports youth who have had the privilege of accessing formal education to help younger students in their community to read, write, and perform basic mathematics. Though VUTAMDOGO is youth-led, parents, teachers, support staff, community leaders, and the community at large also play a role in ensuring that the program is successful. This takes into account a holistic view that learning happens not only in school but also in a responsive and supportive home and community.

A child reads in class. She has been helped in VUTAMDOGO after-school sessions facilitated by youth groups.

NGOsource's Role

TAHEA received an equivalency determination (ED) from NGOsource in early 2019 after an NGOsource member, Better Way Foundation, requested that TAHEA undergo the ED process. As a result, TAHEA was able to renew its previous funding from Better Way Foundation and guarantee grant support for the next three years.

NGOs and U.S.-based grantmakers both benefit from working with NGOsource's efficient ED process. By reducing the time and costs associated with the ED process, both grantmaker and grantee are able to spend less time on paperwork and more time developing their relationships and doing what they do best: meeting their mission.

ED in Action

The funding that TAHEA received following the ED process enabled them to implement the learnings from VUTAMDOGO into a new project focused on expanding early childhood development (ECD) services for children aged 3 through 4 years old. Because early childhood education centers are typically run by religious organizations or individuals that require fees for children to enroll, TAHEA seeks to provide equitable access for all families by creating a community resource and training center.

The center helps to train and create a network of CBOs to establish community-based ECD centers that are accessible for all children in the community, free of charge. TAHEA has already served nearly 1,000 children and expects to serve approximately 2,000 children in the next few years.

A storytelling session takes place in one of the community-based EDC centers.

TAHEA understands the necessity of ensuring that all children in the community have access to quality education. By collaborating with CBOs and building from community-based strengths that already exist, TAHEA is showing that CBOs are better placed to create change in their community when given the resources to do so. Through this work, TAHEA is empowering its community to support its future leaders and to build a better tomorrow.

We thank Mary Kabati of TAHEA for her contributions to this article.

Top photo: A child plays with blocks in one of the community-based ECD centers.

Photos used with permission from TAHEA Mwanza © 2020.