“I raise up my voice — not so I can shout, but so that those without a voice can be heard. We cannot succeed when half of us are held back.” ― Malala Yousafzai
The impact of the Grumeti Fund‘s work in communities bordering Singita’s 330,000-acre concession can be seen and felt well beyond its borders. The Fund works in more than 20 villages in close proximity to this protected area in the western Serengeti to enhance access to quality education, teach environmental awareness, promote responsible natural resource management, and support the establishment of small enterprises. One of the more recent projects undertaken by this non-profit organisation involved the important and inspiring issue of women’s empowerment.
At the end of November 2017, the Grumeti Fund (GF) hosted 700 female high school students from the local community for a series of empowerment sessions aimed at educating and inspiring them on topics as varied as menstrual health and career development. The three-day forum featured a number of strong and courageous speakers, including Frida Mollel, the GF’s Community Outreach Program Manager; Faraja Kotta Nyalandu, the founder of Shule Direct and Miss Tanzania 2004; Rhobi Samwel, the founder of Hope for Girls and Women Serengeti, an FGM educational charity; and Mary Mwakyusa from Jhpiego, a non-profit organisation affiliated with the Johns Hopkins University which works to prevent the needless deaths of women and their families. All of these women run successful empowerment-related programs that prioritise the health, education and professional advancement of other women in Tanzania.
A major focus of the sessions was reproductive health and menstrual hygiene – both topics on which the teenage girls of the Serengeti receive little information. Talking openly about issues like birth control and female genital mutilation (FGM) helps to remove the stigma that these women face in their rural communities and opens up new opportunities for taking their health into their own hands. Inspiration also played a critical role throughout the event, where messages about the importance of confidence and emotional resilience were conveyed. Each day closed with an interactive lesson on career development, where women from Singita Grumeti engaged with the girls on achieving their personal goals.
The success of the sessions has spurred the GF to continue to work on the empowerment of the Serengeti’s women and girls and create a space to nurture their ongoing personal growth. It is hoped that this will be achieved through the existing scholarship program, the implementation of a new livelihood development program and by running similar educational workshops in the future. Investing in female health and empowerment, fulfilling the basic human rights of women and breaking the cycle of poverty are all very real and achievable goals that will serve to uplift and inspire one of Tanzania’s most precious resources: it’s women and girls.
Singita’s wide-ranging community partnership projects in Tanzania, through the work of the Grumeti Fund, focus on education, rural enterprise development and environmental awareness. The generosity of donors is essential to the success of these projects, providing crucial support for the development aspirations of neighbouring communities. Members of the public can make donations directly to the Grumeti Fund by donating here and going to the ‘Bursary Program’ project link.