Buffalo non-profit to hold benefit & progress update on school in Africa

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB)- News 4 has been following the progress of a school being built in the African country of Tanzania. A Buffalo non-profit is helping a group of nuns educate girls in the remote village of Kitenga.

Girls Education Collaborative and its partners opened the school in January. The first class consists of 59 girls but the non-profit hopes to educate 120 additional girls every year. The goal is to have 1,500 girls enrolled at the school.

“It is so much more than a school,” said Anne Wadsworth, the executive director of Girls Education Collaborative. “It’s a school-based experience where they are literally changing their lives and I can tell you, after meeting the girls, they are girls on fire and they are dreaming big.”

Wadsworth told News 4 they have been helping the Immaculate Heart Sisters of Africa build the school for the past five years. The Government of Tanzania gave the Sisters 1,000 acres of land 20 years ago.

The Immaculate Heart Sisters were visiting Buffalo for higher education and partnered with University at Buffalo’s Tanzania Education Project. In 2012, Girls Education Collaborative incubated out of the Education Project and took on the Kitenga project as its first initiative.

GEC has now helped build a science center, library, dormitory and guest residence.

“If [these girls] were not in school not having this opportunity, they might be living in a mud hut with no electricity, no running water and spending their days fetching firewood or water,” said Wadsworth. “This is also an area where the traditional practice of selling girls into marriage at 11, 12, 13 years old for literally cows is still widely practiced.”

The school will be dedicated on May 24.

“It’s going to be quite the celebration and really significant event in this community,” said Wadsworth.

A group of nine people, including board members and community supporters, will make the trip to Tanzania for the dedication.

The Buffalo community has generously helped make the school possible. GEC will host a Taste of Tanzania dinner to help celebrate the good news and share a progress update. Authentic African food will be prepared by GEC Board Member Louise Sano, the owner of Global Villages. News 4’s Callan Gray will be on hand to emcee the event.

Proceeds from the dinner will also help expand the school to educate more girls.

“Our task is to grow the school so more girls can have this opportunity,” said Wadsworth. “They have ambitions and they work so hard.”

For more information about the Taste of Tanzania and GEC click here.

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