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African Initiatives

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African Initiatives is an international development charity working with Maasai, Iraqw and other indigenous communities in the challenging socio-economic landscape of northern Tanzania.

Pastoralists, agro-pastoralists and hunter-gatherers are some of the poorest, most vulnerable and disenfranchised people in the world; indigenous women and girls, and those living with disabilities and HIV/AIDS, are the most marginalised of all.

The UN has pledged to “leave no-one behind” and we’re committed to making it happen. That’s why we concentrate our efforts on those who face the most extreme inequalities; hard-to-reach individuals who are excluded and stigmatised not only by the State but by their own communities.

African Initiatives was established in Bristol in 1997. Since the beginning, we have believed in the power of partnership to enable local communities to secure their own long-term solutions to global problems. That’s why, from the very start, we have always engaged with local communities through grassroots partners who have a deep understanding of indigenous societies – and their shifting contexts.

Over the years, we have seen how greater collaboration can achieve greater collective impact. Our expertise lies in bringing the right people together – community members; traditional leaders; government officers; local NGOs; global human rights alliances, international funders and supporters – to create lasting change.

Together we break down the barriers that stop the most marginalised from realising their full potential.

Together, we work to a future where even the most vulnerable have the opportunity to enjoy Maisha Bora – it means a ‘Good Life’ in Kiswahili.

The barriers to Maisha Bora are huge. In pastoralist communities, for example, human rights violations can occur at every stage of life.  Maasai women and girls, for example, can be denied the right to go to school. The right to choose when and whom to marry. The right to use contraception and access healthcare. The right to earn an income and inherit property or land. The right to have a say in decision-making.

It’s a complex environment and we recognise there is no simple solution. However, by taking a holistic, life-cycle approach to the inequalities that accumulate from childhood through adolescence to adulthood, we are transforming the journey for those most at risk of being left behind.

Our approach has education and learning at its heart. We sensitise parents to the value of girls’ education so they send their daughters to school rather than exchange them in marriage for a dowry. We train teachers so girls and boys enjoy a quality education, pass their exams and stay in school rather than failing and dropping out. When they leave education as young adults, we offer vocational and finance training so they can set up their own businesses and enjoy a dignified way of living. Of course, along the way, we spread awareness of HIV/AIDS and family planning and encourage open discussion about harmful cultural practices such as female genital mutilation and forced marriage.

We are proud of our contribution to the advancement of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals. In just five years alone, from 2012 to 2017, we have changed the lives of over 346,328 people.

With your help, we can achieve even greater impact and, together, ensure Maisha Bora – in all its forms – is a possibility for all.

Read more about our work here

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