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The Ota Initiative Blog

Return to Kayanga

Hello from Tanzania!

Two days, two planes, and two buses later, I arrived safely in Kayanga, Tanzania, on Sunday, May 25th. After greeting my friends that evening and then sleeping for about 14 hours, I awoke that Monday fresh and ready to start preparations for our next program. Since then the internet has been most uncooperative, but it seems now I will finally be able to fill you in on my first week back.

My first manner of business was talking with our five group leaders and two reserve leaders from last session. Three of our group leaders and one reserve will not be available to work with this next program, which is disappointing yet expected as young people are prone to move about. While I will miss working with these group leaders, I am also happy several of them will not be returning because they now have full-time jobs.

One of our group leaders recently signed a three-year contract with a local organization to teach about reproductive health in local schools. She proudly told me that she included her Ota teaching certificate in her application and talked about her work with us during her job interview. She said she loves her job now and that it is similar to Ota because she often uses discussions, games and role plays in her lessons instead of just lecturing. This girl is an amazing person and I am not saying she received her job purely because of her experience working with Ota, but I was so happy to hear she talked about us in her interview and took skills she learned with our program on to her next job. This type of story is the reason I wanted to train and employ youth with our program, and I am so excited for this girl’s future.

We now have three group leaders, so we started advertising three job openings – two group leaders and one reserve in case one of our leaders must leave during the program. We had excellent group leaders last session, and I have high hopes that the new ones we find will be just as great.

That first week I also started reaching out to the parents of our students. They are all excited for Ota’s return, and we will be holding a meeting with our parents next week to talk about what this upcoming session has in store for their children. A few of our students have moved and will not be able to attend the program, but I am proud to say that every student from last year who is still in the area plans to attend our second session.

In the days ahead our team’s other major tasks include refining our syllabus and training seminar schedule, meeting with the necessary local officials and gathering supplies. Our group leader training seminar starts on June 9th and our program on June 16th, so we are busy working away!

And now, before I sign off, just a note about the donation link I included in my last email as I have received a few questions about it. To clarify, while we plan to register The Ota Initiative as its own independent organization once it is more established, for now it is operating under the auspices of the American nonprofit group Amizade. We are doing this for several reasons, including that Amizade handles all of Ota’s funds. While you all may trust Rebecca Gailey, age 23 of Washington, DC, to directly invest your donations into Ota’s programs, the IRS and grant-making organizations do not. Amizade, however, has been working in many communities for 20 years and has a much better reputation. When you donate at the bottom of this page locate on Amizade’s website, your money will go directly to the account Amizade has set up for The Ota Initiative, not to any other Amizade programs. If you have any other questions about how the donations (which are tax deductable!) work, please send me an email and I will be able to answer them.

For now, thanks again for your interest in our program and enjoy the rest of your weekend!

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