A lot’s been happening…

It’s been a bit since the JUAf blog has been updated, so there is quite a bit to share.

One Simple Word – Water!

JUAf finally reached water! We had to dig 100ft to get to the water table, but we made it! Thanks to Swalehe a local Kikwe villager who took nine months to dig the well by hand, we now have endless water to irrigate our crops, and to provide clean drinking water to the community. We recently had the water tested by the Arusha Regional Water Laboratory office, and we were rewarded a certificate that states the water is 100% drinkable, and boiling is not necessary. The community of Maweni village (including Kikwe) has never had access to clean drinking water, and we now have the women of our village lining up to have safe water to drink and bring to their families

The water will also be used to irrigate our crops, and to provide water to our Community Center. We were able to purchase a large water container to hold 1,000 liters of water for our community center needs. We also hired local villagers to help Abduli and Swalehe construct a water holding tank which will hold up to 200,000 liters of water to irrigate our crops.

This was one of our primary priorities for 2009/2010 – Dig a well and gain access to water to provide the community with safe drinking water, and irrigate our crops. Task complete!

Community Center

Done! It’s done and it looks great!

The Community Center took approximately eight months to finish, starting from the day we hired the architect to design it, to the final day we furnished the interior with desks and chairs. This meeting place is not only a place for the women of our village to meet and collaborate on small business ideas through our microfinancing program, but it’s a place for them to feel proud of and call their own. It’s a place for them to gather and feel that their voices are heard in a safe environment. An environment where they will not only be heard, but be given the tools to succeed.

We also were able to construct our JUAf Office in the Community Center so Asha and I have a place to run the JUAf project and take care of administrative needs.

One last thing – we were able to construct two outdoor latrines (with a water head) for our community center. We’ve been told that we have the nicest latrines in the village, and a place to wash hands!


Now that we have our own water source for irrigation, we expect to have a better crop harvest for 2010. Our biggest challenge in 2009 was water. Tanzania went through a very severe drought and farmers throughout the country were not able to generate income from their fields. Although we had our own river running through our land, we were on a schedule for water rights. Our assigned once a week schedule to water our crops was not sufficient, so we lost our crops along with all other Tanzanians. So, it was imperative for us to dig a well to get access to water for crops and the community.

We plan to have a few specialists in agricultural development come to our project to educate us on the planting and harvesting cycle of local crops. This background will certainly help us with our knowledge (or lack thereof) in agriculture and harvesting. Additionally, the knowledge will help us in understanding the planting lifecycle, and to gain the highest price for our crops.

Our plan is then to set up our distribution channels within the larger outlying towns to sell our produce, and put the profits directly back into the JUAf Village.

Legalizing Land

We recently had our land legalized which is a big deal for us. In Tanzania, even though a land owner purchases their land, they are technically leasing their land for 33 or 99 years from the Tanzanian Government. Hence, the land can be taken from you if it is a) not legalized with the government b) not being developed via cultivating crops or construction. So, we went through the proper steps to get our land legalized with the government and have proper boundaries set. As part of the land legalization process, we had markers set by the government to mark the boundaries of our land. So, we not only purchased eight acres of land in 2009, but we are legal land owners too!


Our microfinancing program is going well. We currently have 35 women who are taking out $75 loans. Our first set of loans was given to 15 women. To date, we have received a 100% payback in our loans from this first group of members. This same group of women recently took out their second loan ($75 plus 20%). They are very happy to have had success in their first loan, and are thrilled to be receiving another loan. The second set of loans was given to the remaining 20 members. Their loans are due next month. We hope to increase the loan amount for all loans above the first loan, but will need to continue to raise money for our microfinancing kitty.

Prior to giving out our first round of loans, we asked each individual what their plans were in terms of how they would spend their profits. The majority of them had mentioned that they would spend their profits on home improvements (i.e.; purchasing windows, buying tin roofing materials, slowly purchasing bricks in order to build a brick home, and eventually move out of their mud home, purchasing livestock etc. I’ve included pictures in this blog so you can see the many improvements in their lives.

2010 Plans

Our JUAf 2010 plans include our continued focus on irrigation for our crops; finding distribution channels for our crops at market; microfinancing programs, continued small business education classes, and finally, building a border for our land.

Thanks again for all your support!

Asha Mruma & Judi McAlpine

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