Ndeenga Shamata, our 2009-10 YES alum, continues to impress us!  The recipient of the first ever IRIS Global Citizen Scholarship, Ndeenga is dedicated to leading and creating opportunities for her Tanzanian community members.

After returning to Tanzania from Ford Madison, Iowa, Ndeenga jumped right into community involvement. She taught primary school, held HIV/AIDS prevention education seminars, and enrolled in the University of Dar Es Salaam to pursue a degree in Geography and Environmental Studies with a focus on Climate and Climatic Changes.

Towards the end of last year, Ndeenga educated over 140 women on the consequences of the Maasai local tradition of female circumcisions — otherwise known as Female Genital Mutilation (FGM). Ndeenga gave the women the tools to understand and take care of their reproductive health.

In February, Ndeenga began her latest project by continuing her partnership with the Maasai people. Ndeenga led the “Reach the Unreached” project with nine other participants from the Youth with a Mission (YWAM) organization.  Together, the team shared HIV/AIDS prevention information in rural Ngorongoro.  A protected conservation area, Ngorongoro is home to one of the seven natural wonders of Africa, diverse wildlife, and the Maasai people — pastoralists who have lived in the region for over 200 years.

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Climate shifts and population increase have forced residents to look elsewhere for resources.  According to Ndeenga, young men from the Ngorongoro area travel to nearby cities to seek employment.  However, they face culture shock and a lack of work experience as they try to accustom to life outside the rural area.

Ndeenga and her team traveled and met with the Maasai people in Ngorongoro.  They cooked meals and used a generator to play educational movie clips featuring information on HIV/AIDS. Because the community has limited access to nearby towns and medical care, Ndeenga and her team taught residents how to use First Aid kits.

“With that knowledge people will be able to fight their way through [the HIV/AIDS epidemic],” says Ndeenga.

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In Ngorongoro, Maasai traditions like polygamy, female genital mutilation, and circumcision are practiced.  As a communal society, it’s common for a communicable disease like HIV/AIDS to spread quickly and easily.  Ndeenga believes providing information on  preventive methods and disease transmission will help reach her goal of an AIDS-free society.

The residents welcomed Ndeenga and found value in her education.

“Today I see a bit importance of educating our children. If only they come back with such potentials as this, surely we will take a better step ahead. I am certain, we will be informed of such a calamities such as Biitya [HIV/AIDS] as long as we listen to our educated children,” said Saruni, the Maasai leader at Alaililai Ngorongoro.

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While this project was funded by Youth with a Mission and Team Campus Ministry,  we love to help our alumni pursue projects that change their communities.  Alumni Global Grants are available to past participants of any IRIS program (youth or adult programs) to enable them to contribute to the social, economic, and civic development of their countries. Learn more about the Alumni Global Grant program here. 

For her outstanding commitment to her community, Ndeenga received the 2013-14 IRIS Global Citizen Scholarship. The scholarship program enables our alumni to reach their professional, community, and educational goals. This year we celebrated the second year of the scholarship program after raising over $16,000.  We can’t wait to award more deserving alumni, like Ndeenga, across the globe. Learn more about the IRIS Global Citizen scholarship here.

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