WHAT WE DO
The mission of Taraja is to identify, mobilize, and provide financial and other resources to help the
poor break out of poverty. We seek to fulfill our mission through funding for education and micro-enterprise, mentoring, and networking.
With so many in the African Great Lakes region surviving as subsistence farmers on limited land, the only hope for many is to acquire formal education to enable them to join the workforce in both the public and private sectors. This is an important path to development in the globalized economy. By educating only one person in a family, it is possible to lift the whole family out of poverty. Taraja seeks to provide scholarships to deserving high school and college students to enable them to complete their education. Currently, Taraja is sponsoring one high school student and two college students in Rwanda, and one college student in Uganda. Taraja also seeks to help secure and donate critical resources to impoverished schools in Africa. Recently, Taraja donated funds to purchase a laptop computer for Nkongoro Primary School in Kamwenge district, Uganda. With the computer, the school head principal and teachers will have access to resources on the internet and be able to communicate with others beyond their rural village.
In its first year, Taraja was able to provide funding for a fishing business in Rwanda and a Stationery business in Uganda. Already these initiatives are making a significant difference in the lives of the beneficiary families:
A young father of five could not support his family with his earnings from working as a fisherman for someone else. When he received a grant from Taraja to buy fishing equipment and became self-employed, his life dramatically changed within eight months. He bought a sewing machine for his wife so she could also earn money and is building an iron-roofed house so he can move his family from the grass-thatched hut they live in. He is confident that with substantial income from his fishing business, he will have little trouble sending his children to school.
A young lady who lost her father at an early age and whose family barely survived on her mother's meager earnings as a street vendor in Kampala received a grant to start a stationery business in Kampala. She recently reported that with earnings from her business, she hopes to contribute towards her brother's college education.
A young widow in Rwanda whose husband died suddenly and left her with four children of her own and an orphan they had taken in was struggling to feed them and provide materials for school. With a grant from Taraja, she started an egg business where she buys eggs from farmers and sells them to restaurants and the general public in the market.
A father of six who was struggling to make ends meet by making bags and other products from vinyl from his small rented apartment received a grant from Taraja and has since moved to a store front on one of the streets of Ruhengeri town, Rwanda. When we visited him last summer, he told us he is unable to keep up with the demand for his products.
We are very encouraged by these early results. We can only imagine what we will achieve with support from others who share our vision to free families from poverty!
We recognize that knowledge, wisdom, and experience are even more precious resources than money. That's why every recipient of a Taraja grant is assigned a mentor to advise them about ways to succeed. Mentors are generally people with the same backgrounds who have managed to break out of poverty themselves.
We realize our limitations in responding to the needs of the many poor who approach us for help. One of the ways we can offer assistance is to provide people with information on other available sources of support. We are in the process of developing a database with information about other organizations that provide scholarships and micro-enterprise grants, so that we can refer people with needs we cannot address directly. We continually strive to network with local organizations to help us better understand best practices in the area of poverty alleviation.
Potential recipients of Taraja's support are identified in collaboration with our local partners who share our vision.