To foster a more peaceful society Terrawatu works in Tanzania creating self-sustainable projects rooted in indigenous communities
Who We Are
Celebrating 20 years this year, Terrawatu is an NGO based in Tanzania that works with local communities to create sustainable development projects, and educates about the importance of environmental conservation, reforestation and the cultivation of plants for both medicinal and nutritional purposes. Our success lies in our ability to unite time-tested ancient wisdom with up-to-date science so that the needs of communities are met appropriately and efficiently.
The founders of Terrawatu – Dr. Tanya Pergola, an American sociologist and Lekoko Ole Sululu, a Tanzanian Maasai elder – share a love for Tanzania’s land, rich cultures, and its people. Saddened by the ‘brain drain’ and desire of so many young Tanzanians to leave their country in search of perceived ‘greener pastures’ the founders set about to do what they could to educate and improve the livelihoods of Tanzanians in and around the Arusha Region. There had to be a way to preserve and conserve the precious landscapes and wildlife, the indigenous cultures, medicinal plants, and foodstuffs while at the same time helping to develop economies and businesses in such a way that people would be proud to stay in-country while serving as an example for other communities around the world.
Terra = ‘earth’ in the Italian language Watu = ‘people’ in the Swahili language
The vision of Terrawatu from day one has been to bridge indigenous and modern wisdom. When Terrawatu built traditional classrooms in schools, computers with Internet access were a priority. When health clinics were constructed, they served as integrative medical facilities, providing treatments combining both traditional healing with modern medicine. Project staff is primarily from the local community, and external funding is for initial project implementation. Terrawatu's measure of success for its projects is self-sustainability.
Terrawatu is registered in both Tanzania and in the United States as a 501c3 (EIN 26-0212786). Projects are based and directed out of our office in Arusha, Tanzania, East Africa. Fundraising and volunteer coordination are based out of our Miami, Florida office. There is an all-Tanzanian Board of Directors, an American Board and an International Advisory Council.
What We Have Done
Terrawatu is dedicated to creating and implementing sustainable development projects that make a viable difference. All of our projects and activities emerge out of in-depth discussions with local communities regarding true priority intentions and needs.
Not everything we have tried has worked. And some projects turned out to be much more challenging, and expensive, than originally planned. At Terrawatu we take these 'lessons learned' to heart, work to establish new paths forward and add to our expertise in future endeavors.
In the two decades since our founding, Terrawatu is proud of many successes in the areas of education, health, environmental conservation and women's empowerment. Successes visible to the eye include: construction of multiple classrooms, school kitchens and computer labs; reforestation of village lands; and development of orphanages. Successes not so visible to the eye include: improved formal education, decreased incidents of malaria, empowered women and healthier communities.
What We Are Doing Now
Like many NGOs, 2020 encouraged us to pull back from our daily activities and take a big picture view of our work. We decided to focus less on getting people prepared to move into increasingly congested towns in search of rapidly disappearing jobs, to focusing more on helping people feed their families more directly. The 'Chakula na Dawa Usalama Project' was born in late 2020. Meaning “Food and Medicine/Health Security” in Swahili, the project embraces several activities including a permaculture farm, medicinal plant cultivation, upgrades to kitchens and diets, and health and well-being education.
While we continue to oversee computer labs and mobile education activities at our partner schools, we intend to collaborate with the amazing content providers existing in Tanzania and simply help provide the infrastructure.
With our twenty years of experience, Terrawatu is sought out by local orphanages, schools and community organizations to consult on their developing projects.
Our Vision / Our Dream
Demonstration/model village – a thriving village where people from around the area can visit and learn permaculture techniques, moringa cultivation and processing, cooking techniques using fuel-efficient kitchens, new recipes marrying indigenous and modern ingredients and techniques, traditional medicine cultivation and use, small business development (e.g. beadwork, handbags, artisan kitchenware, farmer's market). The schools, health center and orphanage in the village are at the highest standards to nurture the next generation. The concept is villagers teaching villagers, in their language, Swahili, and meeting eye to eye to experience what works.
Our Potential Impact
This model village will first impact the local residents who are part of this project. In Mkonoo village itself, over a thousand men, women and children will see immediate improvements in their livelihoods.
We are creating a template / greenprint for surrounding communities in Tanzania. Many have described the entire continent of Africa as ‘leap-frogging’ technology by going directly from communicating at the local market to mobile phones (bypassing landline phones). With many families in America and Europe now setting up small farms at their homes and switching to renewable energy, communities in Tanzania can ‘leap-frog’ over unsustainable farming practices, more deforestation and unhealthy foods and diets. They can go forward by harnessing the wisdom of their ancestors, manifesting the vision of Terrawatu.
Call To Action
Immediate funds are needed for fencing, permanent water, kitchen construction, storerooms, workshops, and overall development of our model villages. Budget to fully manifest Our Vision/Our Dream is one million USD.
ROI – Knowing you have made a difference in keeping proud Tanzanians in their country, building a better future, for this East African nation while providing a model that can be replicated in other communities around the world.