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Education is Fundamental to Development


(Bishop Dr. Owdenberg Mdgella has been Global Volunteers’ Tanzania Host Representative since 1986.)

A lot has been done through Global Volunteers in Tanzania. It would take one hour to describe because the things are too big for a short blog post.

Tanzania a long-standing host of Global Volunteers and I am glad to be part of the 25 years of genuine development assistance. I reflection on one of the UN Millenium Development Goals (MDGs): education. You cannot believe today how many have students have achieved a lot from the teaching through Global Volunteers. There are five lecturers at the university and five magistrates. Education is the key. If you want to get out of poverty you must get an education.

Global Volunteers exposed me as well as the villagers to Americans. Out of that relationship we have taught 2870 university students in less than 17 years. Some of these students are now working in government because there is a rippling effect. There is a storm in the sea and so many waves come from here. People don’t want to give credit to who started the program. It was Bud Philbrook who wanted to make as many Americans as possible know about the world and as many people here know about Americans. Americans are not members of the CIA. These are wrong prejudices. This misperception has been highly corrected. Because of this exposure, you can no longer count on your fingers the 2000 to 3000 volunteers. So when you think of the Millennium Development Goals remember the Americans also brought an interest in tourism to this country and that was good for us too.

Yes, it is good for Americans to know the world and for people of the world to know Americans.

Global Volunteers works with the vulnerable and people at risk helping them to determine their future and their present. They have been working at dispenseries teaching people from a book called “Where there is no Doctor.” Now there are three villages that have pharmacies where there is no doctor but those who work there are now called doctors. When Global Volunteers came they spent a time and little by little you feel and it is fitting.

Global Volunteers has sent people to plant trees and work at health centers. The Ipalamwa road that used to take 12 hours to transport has been improved by the local government and now takes just two hours — this is the catalyst effect of Global Volunteers. A catalyst effect so even the questions you are discussing and even those criticizing the local government — a lot of them say it is a learning scenario to know there are people in the world who survive in a site so different as that. It can never be measured what we can achieve together.

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