Organization Spotlight: Lifted Strong

Located off the beaten path, in the beautiful country of Tanzania, lies an organization that is supporting and uplifting the local women of Arusha. Lifted Strong was created by Eva Boaz and Joyce Beda to empower and educate women (Mamas) impacted by HIV/AIDS and life’s hardships.

What’s inspiring about the program?

 The joy that the Mamas of Lifted Strong have despite the adversities they’ve faced is inspiring. The stories I’ve heard about their lives before joining the program was heartbreaking. But no matter what, and no matter how they’ve felt, the Mamas were welcoming, loving, and hopeful about their future. I was humbled.

What makes the organization unique?

Me with the Mamas and other volunteers

Lifted Strong is unique in that it is not only an organization, but also a program with several purposes: providing health education to women based on their needs, equipping women with knowledge on how to develop a sustainable business, identifying skills that each participant has, connecting women to local resources that will help them succeed, and providing a safe place for women to share their stories and experiences to help others.

The organization even has a microloan program where Mamas learn how to write a business plan, pitch their idea, and receive funding if the group feels as if their business idea is marketable and sustainable.

What are some of Lifted Strong’s projects?

To help the organization generate income, two volunteers assisted the Mamas with developing a cooking class “Cook Like A Mama.”  For a small fee, volunteers can learn how to make three types of sambusas (samosas) and coconut soup. It’s a hands-on experience. The Mamas also teach participants inspirational songs in KiSwahili.

Me rolling dough for the sambusas

“Mama Kuku,” which translates to Mama Chicken, is their chicken project. Mamas learn how to care for chickens so that they can sell eggs and chickens for the organization and for their own personal income. The chickens also provide a source of protein for the Mamas, to prevent protein deficiency which can weaken the immune system, and their families.

The Mamas learning how to use a condom and Mama Jane looking surprised

As previously mentioned, Lifted Strong has a health education component, and teaches Mamas about health issues related to HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis, Stress Management, Exercise, Malaria, and more. After realizing that I didn’t want to teach one lesson and leave, I was given the opportunity to work with a nursing student, Stephanie, on developing and laying the foundation for Lifted Strong’s health education program.

Lastly, in partnership with Oyana International, the organization provides re-usable menstrual products for women and girls in the community; and provides community outreach and education.

My time at Lifted Strong is an experience I will never forget. To learn more about the Mamas, and the work that’s being done at Lifted Strong, please visit liftedstrongco.org.

First photo credit: Lifted Strong Website

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