Empowering Women Affected by AIDS in Rural Tanzania

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The Hurumia Watoto Organization works to empower women living in the Lake Victoria region of Tanzania.

The Tanzanian shore of Lake Victoria is one of the most densely populated areas of the country, which sadly makes it a hotbed of poverty and STIs, such as AIDS. One of the groups trying to improve the lives of people in this region is the Hurumia Watoto Organization (HWO), a local NGO dedicated to community building to support the most vulnerable members of society.

Women in rural Tanzania face many challenges, chief among them being a lack of opportunity. The educational system is poor, and it is both difficult and unusual for a woman to go to university—more often, she is expected to stay in the local area and have children. Since the beginning of the AIDS epidemic in the 1980s, more and more women have seen their husbands die, and thus taken on full responsibility for raising their children. However, without the source of income that a husband provides, this is a daunting challenge.

Drawing from other successful NGOs, the Hurumia Watoto Organization aims to provide these women with income-generating opportunities. Their central project is providing teaching and equipment for sewing, tailoring, and embroidering garments to be sold on the open market. By offering the tools and expertise needed to begin working with clothes, HWO provides one of the few opportunities for these women to advance themselves.

The HWO umbrella also encompasses a number of other projects. Naturally, sex education to help prevent the spread of HIV/AIDS is a focus. Other aims include improving the water sanitation system, providing medical services, organizing community projects, planting trees and community gardens, and facilitating dialogue to promote and empower women.