By Daniela Bajan – Art in Tanzania internship

As is well known, gender is a constructed concept. In sociology, there is a distinction between sex and gender. Sex are the biological characteristics that societies use to assign people into the category of either male or female. On the other hand, we have gender, which is an understanding of how society shapes our perception of those biological categories. More specifically, it is a concept that describes how societies determine and manage sex categories; the cultural meanings attached to men and women’s roles; and how individuals understand their identities including, but not limited to, being a man, woman, transgender, intersex, gender queer and other gender positions. Gender involves social norms, attitudes and activities that society deems more appropriate for one sex over another. Gender is also determined by what an individual feels and does.

Weaker characteristics are usually attributed to women, they are perceived as individuals who work in the private sphere, that is at home. 

Below you will read a short list of some great Tanzanian women. With their commitment they have motivated, changed and encouraged the citizens of Tanzania. Their hard working is well connected with one of the seventeen goals of the United Nations: gender equality. Achieving gender equality and empower all women is necessary for a sustainable and peaceful world. 

REBECA Z. GYUMI “I call everyone to lend their voice, to win this fight”

She is the Founder and Executive Director at Msichana Initiative. This is a Tanzanian NGO which aims to empower girls through education. She is a lawyer and she won a case on child marriages, in July 2016 the country’s High Court ruled that the Marriage Act, which allowed girls as young as 14 to be married, was unconstitutional. The decision raised the minimum age of marriage to 18 for both girls and boys. 

She’s a brave woman and she has visited different parts of Tanzania in order to discuss current issues such as sexual and reproductive health. Rebeca is recognized international for her engagement in youth and girls’ rights. 

GERTRUDE MONGELLA “It is not enough just to open the door to the rooms of power. We have to get inside and rearrange the furniture!”

She is the Special Advisor to the ECA Executive Secretary and to the UNESCO Director General; Founder, Advocacy for Women in Africa (AWA); Former president of the Pan-African Parliament. 

In 1993 she became a diplomat to the UN and led the fourth World Conference on Women (1993-1995).

She is a feminist and she supported Palestinian women to gain power in political processes. Recently she became Tanzania’s Goodwill Ambassador to the World Health Organization and a member of the AU’s African Women’s Committee for Peace and Development. 

FARAJA NYALANDU “we have all heard what we are capable of. Now, we just need to own the accolades”

In 2013 she established Shule Direct, an organisation providing comprehensive web and mobile educational platforms offering learning content to over 1 million in and out of school youth. She is a member of the World Economic Forum’s Global Future Council on Education, Gender and Work. Faraja has been awarded a 2017 System Innovator award by Segal Family Foundation for systemic change in digital learning in Secondary School education in Tanzania and Woman in Tech award by the Tanzania Women of Achievement Awards 2018  

HELEN KIJO-BISIMBA “remember today’s children are the leaders of tomorrow”

is a Human Rights activist in Tanzania, and she was the Executive Director of the country’s Legal and Human Rights Centre, which is a civic body that ensures every Tanzanian individual’s human rights are protected and respected rom all sorts of abuses. She fought for the rights of local marginalized people, men and women both young and old. 

She was the first Tanzanian woman to receive the Tanzania Woman of Courage Award which was issued by the American Embassy in Tanzania in 2008. In fact, in 2001 she put up a statement against the government. 


She is a politician and she has been Minister of Health, Community Development, Gender, Seniors and Children in the Cabinet of Tanzania. She has a bachelor’s degree in Laws, and she received also her Master of Laws degree from the University of Pretoria. She has worked in different NGO agencies in legal, research and governance roles. 


She is known for her online campaign “Change Tanzania”. Change Tanzania started as a hashtag on Twitter to influence Tanzanian people to participate in bringing positive change in different aspect of life. She is an activist and she has a degree in Humanities, she has participated in the making of films such as Am Tired (2005) and Born on Fire (2008). Through the use of media, she promotes education to young women, and against discrimination toward women. 


She launched the Doris Mollel Foundation with the main goal of reducing death rates for premature babies. Her Foundation concentrates on raising awareness for premature babies, furnishing hospitals with equipment to ensure their survival while in hospital. 


She is a politician and she became Tanzania’s first female Vice-President. She served as the Member of Parliament for Makunduchi constituency from 2010 tu 2015 and has been Minister of State in the Vice-President’s Office for Union Affairs since 2010- 


She is a pure philanthropist for social change. The Flaviana Matata Foundation empowers young, orphaned girls in Tanzania through education, training and microfinance projects to improve their lives. 


She founded Selfina where she was a pioneer of micro-credit in Tanzania through micro-leasing with particular attention to widows and young girls. This foundation empowers women to become more independent and support their livelihoods. 





Lack of Clean Drinking Water in Tanzanian Schools


School is important not only for it provides a place for children to study but also to inculcate values that benefit the rest of their lives. Nevertheless, In 2016, Schools in Tanzania, only 38% had an adequate number of latrines, 20% had water supply facilities, and less than 10% had functioning handwashing facilities. The Tanzania water source is unevenly distributed, lacks water purification technology, and the water supply is irregular and expensive in most areas; natural disasters are currently raging. 

Children in schools cannot access safe drinking water, which creates a negative influence on the regular school operation. High disease infection rates and little supplement of sanitized latrine are lowering student attendance, leading to the schools’ poor education. 

As a result, Water Purification Technology has to be improved to solve the water sanitation problem, and organizations, such as Art in Tanzania, are trying the best to get funding to help children get a better school environment.

Main Cause

There is not a single school in Tanzania that would have clean drinking water. Among the 36000 schools in the country, some even can’t supply water at all; they have no water, no sanitation, and no power. How does this happen? We will look into it through three leading causes.

Surprisingly, Tanzania holds many natural water resources. Yet, many citizens have minimal access to water. This is because those mighty water catchments in rivers and lakes are unevenly distributed around the country, and many arid areas are home to large populations. With no urban water pipelines, villagers in those areas need the stamina to take on a journey to get fresh water. Schools in those areas have no way to provide students with large amounts of clean water, which causes great difficulty for regular and resultful academic achievement.

Besides, the water supply in most areas is irregular and expensive; there does not exist a stable supply channel, or to be more specific, the convenient water supply is way too expensive for most people. People in those areas can only spend large amounts of money buying water if they are not capable of long-distance activity. So this also affects the stable operation for schools.

Despite the minimal amount of water supplies, little available water sanitation measurement is also a problem. The clean water supply in the whole country is exceedingly rare. The possible financial support and domestic technology can not provide a practical approach. The financial support for schools cannot support a reliable water sanitation system, and existing technology can not give answers using this amount of funding.


The water supply and sanitation are affected by the above three causes and generate great difficulty for school operation. Lack of clean water supply affects not only students’ physical health but also the school attendance and regular academic progress. 

The current situation for students is that their health is severely affected by the lack of clean water. Students need to spend time to fetch water from distant places, and these workload stops students from focusing on their academic performance. They are the country’s future, and clean water should not be a first-place concern for them. More seriously, even they get natural water, unsanitized water still leads to a high infection rate of waterborne disease, such as Diarrhoea, Typhoid fever, and Escherichia Coli. These waterborne diseases are caused by the viruses and bacteria in unsanitized water. Students who drink unsanitized water or use those water to clean their hands are easily infected, with poor health conditions, they can not have a colorful school life. 

In addition to this, the lack of clean water leads to little latrines supply in the school. This will lower the attendance of girls since they have requirements for sanitary latrines during their menstruation. According to the NATIONAL GUIDELINE FOR WATER, SANITATION, AND HYGIENE FOR TANZANIA SCHOOLS, more than 70% of schools in Tanzania have fewer latrines than the national standard, “20 girls and 25 boys per drop hole”, and many of the existing ones have low sanitation and hygiene situation. The more students share one latrine, the lower the sanitization condition. Frequent absence from school leads to low academic performance and even a high drop rate, data shows that more than 50% of girls drop from primary school because of poor sanitation conditions. The schools require adequate water and sanitation resources to improve students’ attendance and produce better teaching results.


In order to achieve clean water available in the school, currently, Bore Hole Drilling and Solar Water Purification Technology are the methods Tanzania is trying to use. Bore Hole Drilling is a good tool to secure water sources when the public water source is not available. However, the pilot does not have Bore Hole Drilling option. Comparing with Bore Hole Drilling, Solar Water Purification Technology has no such flaw. The schools can install more purification units to clean the water and reduce the number of waterborne diseases, and the cost of those units are more affordable for clean water. 

To help more children access with clean water, Art in Tanzania is continue working to help and assist children in the local community. With the continued effect of COVID19, the number of volunteers in Tanzania is decreasing, and we lack financial support for schools. If you would like to volunteer or make some donation, please do not hesitate to visit our website for more information: www.artintanzania.org





Volunteer Interview – Karmen


Karmen from Australia, age 36 who has an infectious laugh, loves travelling, meeting new people and shopping, has been volunteering at Al Qawiyyi School and Zanzibar Youth Alliance.

What have kind of activities have you been doing as a volunteer?

I have been assisting the teacher in different classes each week such as nursery, form 2 and standard 2 at school and I have been helping the womans group with cooking at the youth centre.

What made you volunteer with Arts in Tanzania? What has been the best part of being with Arts in Tanzania?

I wanted to volunteer because I am looking for a change career but have been unsure about what I want to move onto. The travel agent in Australia recommended real gap to volunteer through. The best part of being with Art In Tanzania has been meeting people in the house that I wouldn’t otherwise meet.

What have you liked about assisting in Al Quwiyyi School and Zanzibar Youth Alliance youth centre?

I’ve enjoyed the interaction with the children and learning Arabic and Swahili. I’ve also enjoyed learning about Ramadan and Eid. At the youth centre I’ve enjoyed learning to cook dishes I never knew how through the woman’s group. So much so I could open an African restaurant in Australia!

Has the experience changed you as a person?

Yes, it has made me more appreciative of what I have at home. Before I left I was thinking of going into social work and the experience has confirmed this.

What advice would give to volunteers wanting to teach-volunteer?

  1. Just do it
  2. It does take a few days for the children to open up so it makes a difference if you stay longer at the school. I planned to do 8 weeks, but you could do 4 weeks.
  3. Have a few resources such as educational games to help you in the classroom
  4. Be open to experiencing something different by exploring the Island after school and at the weekend to get the most out of your time.
  5. If you’re travelling alone it is better to stay in a volunteer house and if you’re female then be prepared to wear a headscarf and full dress in school and perhaps when you are out.



Sober House Art

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The future Art Gallery and Cafe

When wandering through the alleys and byways of Stone Town, every once in a while you’ll come up to a little square, a little breathing space. It’s at one of these that I am to meet Kasim Nyuni and Saleh, the driving forces behind an upcoming art gallery. When I get there – through the able guidance of my fellow AIT volunteer Sue Wagstaff – we find Kasim negotiating with a carpenter in rapid Swahili. The whitewashed house with the L-shaped patio will not only serve as an art gallery, but also as a cafe and Bed & Breakfast, Sue explains, so new furniture is required.

When we sit down to talk, Kasim and Saleh explain to me that this won’t be a regular art gallery. All the art for sale will be produced by recovering addicts and the proceeds will flow back to the NGO that supports their recovery. “Quitting drugs isn’t enough,” explains Kasim, “You need to change your outlook on life.” Kasim, himself a former addict, has devoted his life to helping others recover from their addictions. In the sober houses, recovering addicts can take part in various activities: English classes, computer classes, art classes. “People don’t come to us because they want to be artists, they come to us because they want to stop being addicts. But in the course of their programme, we often discover their talent and help them develop it.”

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Meeting the “fundhi”, the carpenter

Sue, who worked as an AIT volunteer at the sober house last year, is back to help them set up the art gallery, as well as teaching art at the sober house. “These aren’t trained artists,” she explains, “They’ve been on the street, on the outside, their art comes from a different place entirely.”

Soft-spoken Saleh is one of the many who have been helped by Kasim. Once an addict, he is now a fashion designer and painter, who in 2013 exhibited his designs at the Zanzibar Fashion Week in front of hundreds of people. “During the show, we shared my story with the audience. It was great to feel their support. It’s important that we fight prejudice against addicts,” he says, “We want to show the community that we can change, that we can be valuable and productive members of society.”

Kasim agrees. “Addiction takes everything from you. Addicts are disconnected from their families, from the community. We help them bridge that gap.”

Through the art gallery and cafe, Kasim and Saleh want to generate some income for the organisation, so they are less dependent on donations and subsidies. Equally important, however, is that they try to involve the Stone Town community. “We want to keep the prices at the cafe as low as possible, so ordinary Zanzibari can come, have a cup of coffee and see what our recovering addicts can achieve.”

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From left to right: Kasim, Sue and Saleh

 “Every morning I wake up and I think ‘What can I change today?’” says Kasim. It seems to me that, slowly but surely, they are teaching the people of Zanzibar that addiction is a disease, not a sin, and that it can be overcome.

An opening date for the gallery hasn’t yet been set, but keep an eye on this blog. (Originally published on Apr 30, 2014)


by Simo Hyvönen (Originally published on Dec 4, 2013)

simo kuva12It had been in my mind and it was my dream almost one year. Then suddenly one day in August 2013, I realized that Kilimanjaro can be true for me. Previous night I could not even sleep, I almost itched in anticipation. The first day was 24th of September and it was fairly easy to walk through the green fairytale like forest. It took almost five hours. The second camp named Shira was a very beautiful rock area over 3850 meters high. Some members of our group had to stop already because they were so tired and probably because they had not drink enough water. The third day was bright. We climbed to the Lava Tower which is 4640 meters high.

That afternoon was quite strenuous when we went down to the Barranco Camp standing at 3960 meters high. But that journey was over 10 kilometers.simo kuva13 On Friday we were facing a terrifying trial: a high and a narrow rock path. Sometimes we had to help and support each other by holding hands, like we have to do in our lives. I did not look down; I could only concentrate to the next step. I will never forget that day. We came to the Barafu Camp at six o’clock and at the same time it started snowing. People were so thrilled that they began to play snow war in the middle of Africa.

simo kuva3The last climb we did in darkness with a head lamp. It took six hours. My guide Theo was very helpful and patient with me. When the sun came over clouds at five o’clock on the Saturday morning, I got more power. I was climbing very slowly, very ‘pole-pole’ truly. But I succeed to climb to the Stella Point to 5785 meters high! I truly encourage, even older people such as me to try to have this experience. I can guarantee that it will be worth it.

Pupils from One School in Dar es Salaam receive donations through AIT

By David Kiarie (Originally published on Nov 1, 2013)

Pupils from One school of Tegeta in Dar es Salaam are a happy lot following the completion of a modern sanitation block at the school.

The toilets were constructed with funds from a volunteer at Art In Tanzania who saw the need for the school to have clean sanitation facilities.

The funds also saw the school connected with piped water by Dar es Salaam Water and Sanitation Company (DAWASCO), bringing to an end the problem of water shortage that the school had to contend with for a long period of time.

“We are glad the pupils now have clean sanitation blocks for both boys and girls and a reliable source of clean water that is safe for domestic use,” said the school head Obedi Rusumo.

Rusumo said although the school had been funded to put up a sanitation block, the administration minimized costs and saved enough money to buy a water storage tank and have piped water connected.

“We used to order between 200-300 litres of water daily which cost us between Tsh. 15,000-Tsh.20,000, about 10-13 US dollars. We no longer need the services of the water vendor and we can use the money we are saving for other purposes.

” We have also managed to clear a Tsh 2 million debt that we owed DAWASCO after connecting us with clean piped water,” said the school headteacher Obedi.

He further said that the ministry of education officials who paid a visit to the school that was facing closure due to poor sanitation have hailed the project and have already registered the education centre, as a nursery school, with the government.

The government has also promised to donate land to the school to enable it grow into a primary school. Presently, pupils who study at the private nurserly school have to join other schools for primary education.

The school with six teachers has two levels of baby and middle classes with pupils age ranging from three and six years old.

The school also plans to have electric power connected and has mobilized some funds for the same although they have a Tsh 700,000 deficit. The total cost of the exercise is Tsh 1.2 million according to Rusumo.

”I credit our school development to Art In Tanzania through whom we meet our esteemed sponsor Carol Wood who has stood with us for this long,”

Carol, a former volunteer with Art In Tanzania, also sends monthly donations that goes into purchase of flour to make porridge for close to 200 pupils at the school.

The sponsor also donated sleeping mats which are used by baby class pupils who have to take a nap every day at the school before they go home at noon.

The headteacher further expressed his gratitude with AIT for offering volunteers to teach pupils at the school.

”The volunteers and interns teach our pupils both written and spoken English among other subjects,” Rusumo said adding that it has helped to improve their performance in class. Another volunteer from Art In Tanzania Rick Jonnes also built desks for the school several years ago.

Very Own Shop

john2Three months ago the house of Art in Tanzania in Dar Es Salaam opened its own fair-trade shop. Supporting the local artist that is in need to find new business strategies than just the usual market places with tens of competitors and their own artist the shop offers jewelry, clothing, paintings, interior design and music.



John who works as a gardener during the days maintainskangas the shop. He is responsible of contacting the local artist and find the best sources for the shop. At the moment most of the shops customers are the volunteers and tourists coming to stay in the house of Art in Tanzania. In the future though the shop is planned to spread by online sales. At the moment you can already find some of the products in reilunetti.fi, which is a Finnish fair-trade channel. (Originally published on Oct 28, 2013)