OMAHA 9/27/2013: At the same time Joe Ricketts was starting to implement his vision in making quality educational opportunities accessible to children in developing nations through Opportunity Education, another individual, thousands of miles away in Tanzania, had a vision of creating an enabling environment for girls to prosper in education. Education it seems is a common link to what many people believe is a way to better the world. As one Head Teacher in Africa remarked, she can't build homes for all her students, but they will build their own homes if they have the income that comes from a good education. Statistics show that the more education, the better the chances for employment and income potential, not just for the students, but also for their families, their communities, and their countries.
The First Lady of the United Republic of Tanzania, Her Excellency, Salma Kikwete, a former 20-year teacher, also had that belief about education and in 2006 she started the foundation "WAMA".
Women and Development Foundation (WAMA), is a non-governmental, non-profit organization whose main goal is to improve the life standard of women, girls and other vulnerable children through promoting them access to education, health service: adolescent and sexual reproductive, maternal and infant, and capacity building for economic empowerment. WAMA joins other NGOs that serve the interests of women and children. The Foundation has a strategic plan to make significant contributions to Tanzanian women and their families through working closely with the government and donors. It operation through four units:
- Girl Child Education
- Health Promotion
- Women Empowerment
- Orphans and Vulnerable Children (OVC)
Due to her vision, experience and determined mission for her initiatives in Tanzania, The First Lady received the 2013 Millennium Development Goals 2013 Women's Progress Award.
Opportunity Education has had a strong partnership with the Country of Tanzania from Opportunity Education's very beginning. It currently is providing support for 453 schools in Tanzania. One of the schools using Opportunity Education's program placed 1st out of 968 schools in its region for the 2012 National Exams and 6th in the Country out of 15,059 schools. The school noted in its thank you, "I want to inform you that Opportunity Education program support is giving us this big advantage to improve the standard of education at our school, region, and country at large."...Seif R. Mkude, Karume Day and Boarding English Medium Primary School.
It is this enduring relationship that drove Her Excellency to request a visit to Opportunity Education office in Omaha, Nebraska. After visiting the office and getting a tour of the warehouse and team by Jim Ricketts, President of Opportunity Education, Her Excellency attended and spoke at the Malaika Foundation Gala that was honoring Joe Ricketts for his global efforts in improving education in developing countries.
To leverage the First Lady's visit in Nebraska, she also met with the First Lady of Nebraska, Sally Ganem. Sally, a strong advocate on behalf of childhood literacy, former teacher and principal, found that the two had a lot in common. So much so that it turns out their names were very similar. Sally's original name was Selma before she changed it to Sally, very close to The First Lady of Tanzania's "Salma".
A determined First Lady who identifies a goal and then figures out how to make it happen and a belief that education is making a difference, everyday.