As we work towards unique solutions to community development around the world, we are aware that our actions have many diverse impacts. Our initial project, the Kiteto Community Education Resource Centre (CERC), provided many benefits: to the children who were offered educational opportunities through its many programs, to the illiterate elder who gained self-confidence and learned to read as she successfully managed the community based steering committee, and to the local craftsmen whose businesses grew as a result of training and investment. We also recognize however, that the CERC negatively impacted the lives of some community members: the building altered the path used by pastoralists to bring their herds to the river, it encouraged young women to study at the CERC instead of staying at home to help with household responsibilities, and it provided competition to local teachers who offered fee based after school tutoring.While some may argue the positives clearly outweigh the negatives, at Jifunze we have always tried to maintain humility with regards to our ideas for community development. We believe that our organization, which is mostly run by individuals who have grown up in the United States, are immediately at a disadvantage when trying to develop sustainable solutions for a rural community in Tanzania. We therefore stress the importance of working with individuals in the community as we believe they are the ones that hold the key to what will truly be successful in the area. Furthermore, as we develop our programs, we maintain a holistic approach to development and attempt to work in a way which mandates a moral and just process while working towards an innovative and effective final product. The struggle to create this balance and follow these aims often causes time delays, challenges, and frustrations throughout project implementation. However, we remain committed to working in a way which sets a new model for successful sustainable development.
People ask us how it's possible. The answer is simple: a strong belief that the process of development is as important as the product, along with a healthy balance of patience and persistence. We take things slowly. We listen deeply. We build local capacity. In 1999 we had hopes and dreams. Today, we believe we have the basis, both physical and ideological, to assisting others develop truly sustaibable solutions to community development.