BUFFALO, N.Y. -- A cooperative effort spearheaded by the
University at Buffalo community to improve educational and economic
opportunities and health services for girls in Tanzania's remote
Mara region continues Friday, March 2, with the Buffalo Tanzania
Education Project's second annual fundraiser.
This year's event -- from 6 to 8 p.m. in Allen Hall on UB's Main
Street Campus -- will benefit the construction of a dormitory for a
secondary school in Kitenga Village where education for these girls
often is the difference between opportunity and a life of hardship
"As the Buffalo Tanzania Education Project continues to grow and
evolve, we are continually reminded of the power of collaboration
and the potential that we all have to make a positive difference in
the world," says Mara B. Huber, director of the UB Center for
Educational Collaboration, whose chance encounter with nuns from
the Mara region of Tanzania led to the ambitious project to change
the arc of these young girls' lives.
Founded in 2008, Buffalo Tanzania Education Project (BTEP) began
as an informal engagement initiative focused on Kitenga Village in
the Mara Region of Northern Tanzania. BTEP now includes dozens of
UB faculty from various departments, graduate students and staff,
as well as members of the broader Western New York community, area
colleges and community organizations.
"The more people get engaged in this project and travel to
Tanzania (and to other communities in need) to understand the
challenges and assets that can be leveraged, the better equipped we
will be to partner and work together toward the greater good,"
Tickets for the fundraiser are $25, $15 for students. All of the
proceeds of ticket sales will go toward construction of the
dormitory, in partnership with the Association for Childhood
Education International (ACEI). The event will also feature a
basket raffle to support the construction of a play space designed
by internationally renowned designer Joe Frost for children of the
village that includes a sports field scheduled to be built in July
by BTEP members under the direction of a team of architects from
TBG Architects of Texas.
The event also includes refreshments, an opportunity to talk to
BTEP members from UB and the surrounding community who are leading
BTEP projects and/or have traveled to the Tanzania village to work
on related initiatives.
The next excursion of the growing team of university and
community members trying to address the host of health and
educational challenges in this underdeveloped region in Sub-Saharan
Africa will be in early July, and led by UB's Katie Biggie, program
manager for the Center for Educational Collaboration. This will be
the second contingent of UB community members to visit the Mara
Region, an area that is scenic as any movie set but struggling with
the problems and poverty of a developing country. (The Mara name --
that coincidentally coincides with Huber's first name -- first
caught Huber's attention during a serendipitous meeting with nuns
from the region at a family gathering.)
Many of those who have visited the region return moved by the
reality facing these young women, and the promise that the new
school campus will bring. Group members often return with a greater
desire to become more involved with the Kitenga community.
Through research, service and engagement projects focused on
education, health, infrastructure and economics, BTEP members work
to increase opportunities for women, children and their families in
this underdeveloped region. Core partners include the Immaculate
Heart Sisters of Africa (IHSA), an order of Catholic nuns who run
successful schools and health clinics throughout Tanzania.
Members of the IHSA have been studying at D'Youville College.
Nuns from that order were those who made the initial contact with
Huber and Biggie, who is cofounder of BTEP and working on a
dissertation on Tanzania.
Since its beginnings, when a team of UB and community leaders
visited the region in 2009, BTEP has made significant
contributions. The first blocks of the secondary school and early
childhood school are completed (in partnership with the Association
for Childhood Education International). A deep well has been dug
(through Buffalo Sunrise Rotary club and other contributing rotary
clubs in the area), and solar cookers have been delivered (through
Solar Liberty Foundation).
New BTEP developments include several graduate students
conducting doctoral research around Tanzania and the BTEP project.
Jessica Essary, a UB student studying early childhood education,
just returned from a three-month trip to Tanzania where she
traveled throughout the country studying gender inequity and
visiting various schools.
A number of Fullbright scholars and graduate students from
Tanzania have become involved in the project, along with Empire
State College Professor Dan Nyaronga, PhD, who happens to be from
the same region in Tanzania. Students' research interests are
cultivated by faculty participating in the project as well as
community trips coordinated by Biggie.
Other evolving efforts include a technology committee working on
a pilot to bring Internet connectivity and computers to the
developing school campus, and an NGO spin-off, the Girls Education
Collaborative, looking to expand fundraising efforts for Kitenga
Village while supporting capacity-building around girls'
Among those who will travel to Tanzania this July are Carole
Smith Petro, recently retired associate vice president and general
manager of WBFO, Barbara and Wallace Ochterski from the Buffalo
Sunrise Rotary, their granddaughter Jennie Ochterski and Lauren
Mullen, a Bonner Scholar from Berry College in Georgia, and
More information on the ongoing projects can be found by