About The Project

Sheena Ashdown and Dale Hamilton, founders of the Africa Village Project Association, are welcomed by the Okaseni villagers and bedecked in gifts of African cloth during their 2007 trip to Tanzania.

The Africa Village Project Association (AVPA) is a Canadian non-profit organization that partners with impoverished African villages to help them better their lives. The AVPA was founded by Sheena Ashdown and Dale Hamilton in 2007.

We believe in community – that a little village across the world in Africa is as much a part of our community as the friends and neighbours who live nearby. As we always help the neighbours close to us in times of need, we also want to help those who live far away but who are close to us in spirit – one world, one community.


The AVPA mandates

When we started the AVPA, we decided on a dual approach. Our first mandate is to help villages improve their standard of living. To do this, we use the traditional aid model by providing the village with materials, supplies, etc., as needed. We follow the Millennium Village concept developed by Jeffery Sachs of the Earth Institute at Columbia University. This concept focuses on improving all aspects of the village, e.g., water, health, education, infrastructure, agriculture, etc., rather than on just one thing.

But we felt that aid alone is not enough. We did not want to just keep giving free stuff to the village for several reasons. First, aid creates dependency and deprives the recipients of their own initiative and resourcefulness. Next, it is unsustainable in the long term. Lastly, as Muhammad Yunus, the founder of microcredit, said, giving people free stuff encourages them to devote their energies to chasing free stuff. So our second mandate is to help African villages become self-sufficient. To do this, we decided to focus on microcredit.

This two-fold approach seeks to address village poverty in a fairly comprehensive way.

 

Okaseni Village

Salma Daud, microcredit program manager extraordinaire, sits outside the village office before the loans are disbursed to the first group of borrowers.

Our first village partner is Okaseni near Moshi in Tanzania. This village is located on the southern slopes of Mount Kilimanjaro and is home to 4,000 members of the proud and hard-working Chagga tribe.

As we began our work with Okaseni, we were fortunate to meet and receive help from many wonderful people. Our primary contact with Okaseni was Tumaini Minja, a village son who provided us with invaluable information and helped us during our 2007 and 2008 trips. Melki Mushi, the Okaseni Village chairperson, has energetically supervised and promoted the various projects we have undertaken in the village. Salma Daud, a friend of Tumaini, became our microcredit manager and a dear friend.

 

The projects

Our approach from the beginning has been to ask the village what it wants and needs, and then to tackle what is feasible within our finances and capabilities. We raise funds in Canada and then travel to Tanzania to fund what the village has told us it needs. We would never presume to tell the villagers what we think is best for them but instead consult with them respectfully and collaboratively about how we can help.

Since our partnership with Okaseni started in 2007, we have spent about $30,000 CDN on projects in the village. With that money, we have

Future plans include expanding our microcredit program, providing everyone in the village with malaria nets, and possibly incorporating the adjoining villages into the project. The pride, strength and spirit of the Africans villagers inspire us and we are honoured to work with them.

 

Please donate

We rely on donations from generous and kind-hearted people like you – who also believe in one world, one community. Please help us continue our work in Okaseni by clicking on the “Donate” button now. Your donation is tax-deductible and you will receive an official tax receipt. You might also consider a monthly donation – even a small monthly amount will go a long way in Africa.

The AVPA is based on Bowen Island, British Columbia, Canada. It is registered under the British Columbia Societies Act and received official charity status from the Canada Revenue Agency in April 2009 (Official Charity # 4551 5154 RR0001).

We are eternally grateful for the invaluable help and support of our past and present board members: Charleen McBeath, Robert Trowhill, Valerie Neil, Diane Van Paridon, and Kerri Franz. We would also like to extend our heartfelt gratitude to all the donors, tech wizards, volunteers, and supporters who have helped us and allowed us to create the amazing AVPA community. Thank you, one and all!