Meet the Partners

The Kwakiliga Project has been around since 2010. During that time, there have been seven Project Coordinators (including myself), several different directions for the Kwakiliga Project, and tens of Tanzanian Partners who were, at one point, part of the Kwakiliga Project, but who moved on, for various reasons. The nine Partners, with whom I worked for the past seven months, have been the one constant in the Project since its inception. All the Partners live in Kwakiliga and make a living, at least in part, as smallholder farmers. Going forward, the Kwakiliga Project is in their hands, as it has been for the past six years.

You all know me but you may not know with whom I worked during my time in Kwakiliga; therefore, I’ll use this post to introduce each of the Partners. Enjoy!

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Blandina Gilla: Mama Gilla is the group treasurer and works with banda (chicken coop) #1. Mama Gilla’s primary responsibility with the group, other than daily duties at the chicken coop, was leading monthly profit calculations for the business. Over time, she grew into this role more and more, and really began to excel in workshops that were held for all the groups treasurers in the 2Seeds Network.

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Adamu Rashidi: Mzee (elder) Adamu works on banda #1 and is the appointed agricultural expert of the group. Banda #1 was located in Mzee Adamu’s property, so he kept a constant eye on the condition of our chickens. As a highly skilled farmer, he was a great asset when we began to develop a garden around banda #1. A very kind man, he always was available to sit and chat with me and teach me about Tanzanian culture.

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Michael Rubeni: Mzee Rubeni is the Market Chair of the group and works on banda #1. As Market Chair, a position he created, Mzee Rubeni facilitates all of the egg sales for the group, as well as working extremely hard to care for the chickens in banda #1. As long as I worked with Mzee Rubeni, he never stopped looking for ways to make the Kwakiliga Project better. His passion pushed me, and the other Partners in the group, to do their best. Finally, he became a very good friend and a person who I will miss a lot.

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Charles Mcharo: Mzee Mcharo is a former Chairperson of the group and works very hard on banda #2. In addition to faithfully completing the daily duties at banda #2, Mzee Mcharo always took the time to do the little things in the banda to make sure it was functioning in the proper way. When other members of banda #2 were sick or out of town, he never failed to do what was necessary to keep the chickens healthy. A very dependable group member and a great man.

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Joyce Keah: Mama Mwaka (she is on the right in this picture with her daughter on the left) is the Chairperson of the group and a member of banda #2. Mama Mwaka is a quiet and often reserved woman. She was not elected Chairperson of the group because she draws attention to herself but because she works extremely hard and is beloved by all the people in the group. Mama Mwaka taught me that there are many different ways to lead and influence in a professional setting. Further, she was very protective of and loving to me. She would always insist that I come to her house for meals and just to catch up.

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Raymond Kupaza: Raymond is the group’s Secretary and a member of banda #2. Luckily for our group, Raymond also happens to be one of the most talented and sought after builders in the region. He is a skilled carpenter, he knows how to lay brick, and he is a maestro with a hammer and nails. He and his assistants built our egg storage facility in a matter of weeks. He was also in great physical shape, so he and I enjoyed having small fitness competitions. I won almost always.

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Halima Husseini: Mama Halima was a member of banda #3. She works very hard, not only on banda #3, but also on her own farm. If I ever wanted to communicate a message to banda #3, she was my go-to person.

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Aziza Yahaya: Aziza is a member of banda #3 and the daughter of Mama Halima. Aziza constantly thinks about and questions the business strategies we use in the Kwakiliga Project, which made me better at my job. During my time in Kwakiliga, Aziza became a friend and someone with whom I could easily have humorous exchanges. She is interested in developing her own fashion and salon business, and already has the loyalty of a number of clients.

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Salimu Bakari: Mzee Kilango is a member of banda #3 and the husband of Aziza. Though Mzee Kilango would occasionally become frustrated with certain aspects of the Kwakiliga Project, he never let that affect his desire for banda #3 to perform well as part of the business.

Each Partner in the Kwakiliga Project brings something different to the table, which is one of the reasons I think the Project has become so successful. From a personal perspective, I will always feel grateful to the Partners for taking care of me while I was far away from family and friends. I am excited to hear how they manage the business, going forward, and am very optimistic about their ability to do so in highly competent manner.

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