Western Heads East

Tanzania

Catholic University of Health and Allied Sciences (CUHAS)

Catholic University of Health and Allied Sciences (CUHAS) is located at the Burgando Medical Centre in Mwanza, Tanzania and is a young university, evolving out of the former Burgando University College of Medicine. The CUHAS  is transforming into a Third Generation (3G) University: i.e. being professionally managed to exploit know-how through education and research, to create value, and to be globally oriented but with local relevancy. This process starts with meeting minimum standards set by the Tanzanian Commission for Universities (TCU), benchmarking itself with the best nationally and regionally, and above all being relevant to the catchment of about 16 million people in the Lake Zone; by addressing their health and health-related problems in a solution-oriented manner as a flagship institution or centre of excellence.

Key People Involved

Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology (JKUAT) - Arusha, Tanzania Campus

Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology (JKUAT) has opened a teaching centre in Arusha Tanzania, becoming the first public University in East Africa to take advantage of the revitalized regional corporation to mount its academic programmes across the country’s borders. Regional integration is an essential instrument that would advance social and economic opportunities for the inhabitants of East Africa. Larger markets permit better exploitation of economies of scale since they encouraged mobility of people and resources across borders. The university seeks to provide directly or indirectly or in collaboration with other institutions of higher learning, facilities for university education including agriculture, scientific, cultural, technological, and professional education, and integration of teaching, research and effective application of knowledge and skills to the life, work and welfare of citizens of Kenya. The university participates in the discovery, transmission and preservation and enhancement of knowledge and stimulates the intellectual participation of students in the economic, technological, agricultural, professional and cultural development.

Key People Involved

St. Augustine's University (SAUT)

St. Augustine's University (SAUT), a secular and private institution of higher learning owned and managed by the Catholic Church. Its vision is the provision of higher education and training that would impart academic and professional skills, as well as inculcate values of civic and social learning, such as acquisition of national identity, cultural norms, political growth and responsible citizenship. Thus, the church’s vision is holistic development of a person and respect for human dignity. SAUT provides administrative support to WHE and matches Western student interns with their own students for an international learning experience. At the same time they support the TWG women's group and will conduct health benefits research with the program.

Key People Involved

National Institute for Medical Research (NIMR)

The National Institute for Medical Research (NIMR) is an autonomous public institution of the Tanzania Ministry of Health, established by Parliamentary act and has developed The Tanzania Medical Journal. NIMR supports the Tukwamuane Women's Group (TWG) by providing the probiotic culture weekly, checking quality control, and engaging in research related to probiotics. 

Kivulini Women's Rights Organization (KWRO)

Kivulini Women's Rights Organization (KWRO) is a grassroots community in Mwanza, Tanzania that works directly from the WHE initiatives. Kivulini, a registered NGO, addresses the root causes of domestic violence by working closely with community members and leaders to change attitudes and behaviors that perpetuate violence against women.

The City of Mwanza

The City of Mwanza's mission statement is to provide services that meet the requirements of females, males and children by using the available resources and taking into account environmental issues and promoting good governance through community participation. The city provides guidance with respect to economic development and available resources.

Tukwamuane Kitchen and Tukwamuane Women's Group (TWG)

Tukwamuane kitchen was the first probiotic yoghurt kitchen group to be formed through the partnership between Western Heads East (WHE), Kivulini Women’s Rights Organization (Kiuvlini), and the National Institute for Medical Research (NIMR) in Mwanza, Tanzania, back in 2004. At the same time, twelve women from the Mwanza community formed the Tukwamuane Women's Group (TWG) to run the probiotic kitchen. In 2012, women's groups collaborated out of an effort to expand WHE’s programming through the establishment of a local partner NGO in Mwanza. Tukwamuane group has since continued to work with all other kitchnes, and managed to sustain their same yoghurt kitchen business in Mabatini District of Mwanza for more than ten years. The group currently sells a whopping 130L of probiotic yoghurt each day, generating 900,000tsh (CAD $590) in profit each month! Members use the income generated from the kitchen to pay for household expenses, as well as school fees, books and uniforms for their children and grandchildren. All the members have further been able to save and invest their money in land or property, and even build new homes for themselves and their families. A unique characteristic of the Tukwamuane Kitchen is a rotating savings/loan program that the members have been operating since 2004. With fifty percent of all monthly profits being put into the savings/loan fund, kitchen members are now routinely withdrawing more than 1 million tsh (CAD $660) at a time. This amount is far more than these women would be able to qualify for in terms of acquiring a loan from a formal banking institution. In 2008, TWG became a licensed NGO and has become a pillar in the Mwanza community providing yoghurt free of charge to more than 150 people living with AIDS.

Other Community Kitchens and Womens' Groups

Yoghurt Mama’s’, a local term of respect and affection, operate probiotic yoghurt kitchens in their communities and they are the cornerstones of the Western Heads East (WHE) program. They are the basic building block of grassroots community kitchens that make the project viable in east Africa. Yoghurt kitchens have empowered Yoghurt Mama’s to foster change in their communities by helping them to contribute to the health of their communities and draw an income for their families whilst stimulating significant economic development. Through their dedication and hard work, yoghurt kitchens have become an integral part of the community life wherein they also act as hubs of health information in the community. Women's groups also receive training on nutrition, health information, HIV prevention, and violence and relationships which then is disseminated to the community. Other community kitchens and womens' groups are:

Sayuni Kitchen

Sayuni Kitchen was formed in 2010 by Mama Pascwalina, formerly a founding member of Tukwamuane Kitchen. Using funds from Tukwamuane’s rotating savings and loan program, Mama Pascwalina open the kitchen in Nyakato Mecco are of Mwanza, and hired six HIV positive beneficiaries to work there as part of WHE’s original yoghurt program. The kitchen and the mamas then registered to work with other kitchens in February 2012. The kitchen currently sells an average of 60L of probiotic yoghurt a day, generating enough for members to earn a monthly income of 85,000tsh (CAD $55), while 100,000tsh (CAD $65) is invested back into the kitchen fund for savings, repairs, and unexpected expenses. Group members report being able to purchase land, houses, livestock, and education for their children through money earned from working in the kitchen..

Buswelu Kitchen

The Buswelu Kitchen was originally opened in 2004 as part of a malnourished child feeding program being facilitated by a local NGO called ChemiChem, in partnership with Buswelu Clinic. In 2010, after being trained in probiotic yoghurt production by the Kivulini and Tukwamuane Kitchen, the group joined the WHE program and began provides probiotic yoghurt at a subsidized cost to HIV/AIDS beneficiaries. They also continued to work with ChemiChem and provide daily servings of probiotic yoghurt to malnourished children in Buswelu district. In February 2012, Buswelu Kitchen, along with its 11 yoghurt mamas, officially joined the other kitches within the program. The age of mamas range from 27-60 years, with the average age being 40 years. Like many other kitchens, the women who work at Buswelu Kitchen typically use their income to provide food, clothing and school fees for their children. Although the ChemiChem program is no longer in operation, the Buswelu yoghurt mamas have continued to supply probiotic yoghurt to patients at Buswelu clinic, including pregnant women participating in a study being conducting on the maternal health benefits of the probiotic yoghurt.

Vijana Simama Imara Kitchen

Mama Joyce, formerly one of the founding members of Tukwamuane kitchen, opened Vijana Simama Imara kitchen in 2010 in order to help provide for the ten orphaned youth currently in her care. The kitchen is run by these ten youth, who are between 12 and 25 years of age. In addition to their monthly salaries, profits from the kitchen are used to pay for household expenditures, and school fees for the younger members who have not yet graduated. Any remaining profits from the kitchen are put into savings and used for the good of the entire family. For example, Mama Joyce recently finished building a house for the boys next to their current home in Mabatini District, and next she plans on building one for the girls. Youth members report improved health, literacy, and entrepreneurship skills as a result of working in the kitchen. This is fitting as Vijana Simama Imara literally translates to "Youth Standing Strong".

Ebeneza Kitchen

The Ebeneza Kitchen, located in Nyakato Gedeli area of Mwanza, was formed in 2012. The kitchen has 5 members, including 1 male, all of whom are between 30-66 years of age. All the members of Ebeneza Kitchen have been engaged in local HIV/AIDS advocacy for many years, which is what drew them each to initially want to work with the program. Members use the income generated from the kitchen to send their children and grandchildren to school, as well as to provide basic necessities such as food and clothing for their families. Group members also report being able to save a portion of their income for investment and incase of unexpected medical expenses, and in doing so experience a greater peace of mind regarding the future.

Nuru Kitchen Kitchen

The Nuru Kitchen, located in Mahina area of Mwanza, consists of four members - three women and one man. The group was formed in September 2012. The average age of group members is 41 years with age range being 34-52 years. A unique feature of the Nuru kitchen is that its members recently began operating a rotating loan/savings program for more than 100 HIV positive individuals in Mahina areas, many of whom are also beneficiaries of the free youghurt program. Group members themselves make an average monthly income of around 100,000tsh (CAD $65), although last years they experienced issues with their local electricity provider, which caused refrigeration issues and nearly three months without any profit whatsoever. Amazingly, despite only having been open for six months at the time these electrical issues occurred, the kitchen managed to stay afloat and is back to regular operations today!

Upendo kitchen

The Upendo kitchen is located in Igoma area of Mwanza. The group was originally composed of 15 women who produced a number of nutrient rich foods, sold at an affordable price to malnourished individuals through a local NGO called Nyakato AIDS Outreach. When the group was repurposed to sell probiotic yogurt in September 2012 only 5 members stayed on. Today, the Upendo yoghurt mamas sell an average of 60L of probiotic yoghurt per day, with each group member earning a monthly income of around 100,000tsh (CAD $65). This income is especially significant since all of the women who work at Upendo kitchen are the sole wage earners in their household.

Tumaini Kitchen

The Tumaini kitchen is located in Mkuyuni area of Mwanza, and was formed in October 2012. The kitchen is operated by a group of five yoghurt mamas, whose average age is 25 years, which is quite young compared to all of the other kitchens (aside from VSI youth kitchen). The kitchen sells approximately 60 liters of yoghurt per day, which is fairly average for groups in Mwanza. However due to the entrepreneurial savvy of the members, who have negotiated reduced fees from both their landlord and local milk suppliers in Mwanza, the kitchen is among the most profitable, generating nearly 800,000tsh per month (CAD $625) in profit! The members themselves make an average monthly income of 160,000tsh (CAD $105), which they report spending on food, clothes, and domestic needs such as bills and rent. Moreover, since the members of Tumiani are younger and don’t possess children of their own, some group members also send money to their parents.

Mashujaa Kitchen

The Mashujaa kitchen is located in Igombe, a semi-rural fishing village on the outskirts of Mwanza. Five yoghurt mamas run the kitchen, and each are the sole wage earners in their household. The group was originally formed in 2011 though the mamas’ mutual involvement with a malnourished child feeding program facilitated by ChemiChem and Kivulini. In September 2012, the group repurposed to sell probiotic yogurt. Currently, the kitchen sells about 50 liters of yoghurt per day, generating an average monthly profits are about 650,000tsh (CAD $430). The mamas themselves earn an average income of about 100,000tsh (CAD $65) per month. The mamas also put aide 150,000tsh per month for emergencies and group activities. More recently, they began operating a rotating groups savings/loan program since 2004, based on a model observed from Tukwamuane Kitchen, though the loan sizes remain quite small given the recent establishment of the fund.