29 December 2014

remembering our year 2014.

One year ago today, we were saying goodbye to dear family and friends, knowing very little about the adventure that would soon begin. We're happy to say that after one year in Tanzania, we've survived! We've made it! We've had our share of ups and downs along the way but here we are.

So it's time to bid a fond farewell to 2014 and to welcome in 2015! But first, let's take a look at the ROY 2014 (Remembering Our Year) - a really awesome summary of what we've been up to since we took off on a jet plane and landed in Mwanza, Tanzania. Enjoy!

Language School

Within a week of our arrival in Tanzania, we were shipped off to the little town of Musoma to do some hardcore study of Kiswahili.

these hours do not include the countless hours spent studying on our own. yeah, we're pretty good students.

Michael's Work

Michael teaches the basics of entrepreneurship and the process of starting and running a successful group enterprise, primarily to young Tanzanian mothers. The goal is to empower these young women to attain economic emancipation and rise out of poverty through income generating activities. Since May 2014, Michael has facilitated 31 seminars on business management, formed a partnership with the local Pepsi bottling plant, and been asked by other local NGOs to consult on business skills and strategy, resulting in the following:

business plans for 9 group enterprises have been written: restaurant (3), salon (2), event decoration, tailoring, livestock, and clothing.

total investment for the young mother: USD 34. time to recoup investment: < 10 days. value of pushcart: USD 212.

average wage earned by each young mother in four hours of work: USD 3.45. average daily income per full work day for a tanzanian: USD 2.19.

equipment received: table, chairs, umbrella, cooler. value of the equipment given to each young mother: USD 61.

business plans for 7 group enterprises have been written: car wash (2), second-hand clothing (2), transportation, gardening, and livestock.

each woman received a loan of USD 60 to help improve their existing businesses.

michael was asked to lead a 3-day workshop to help humuliza organization draft a new 5-year strategic plan.

Ashley's Work 

Since July 2014, Ashley has been working with vulnerable children living with and affected by HIV/AIDS by running an after-school tutoring program at Shalom Care House, a diocesan-run organization in the heart of Mwanza. She works to create a healthy classroom environment, free of violence, while writing lesson plans that are fun and active and in the kids' native language. Phew!

three days each week, ashley offers one-on-one tutoring as well as five classes, grouped by age.

ranging from age 4 to 16, these kids display all levels of skills and needs.

Ashley is excited to announce that beginning in 2015, she will also be working with Lulu Project, a program focusing on vulnerable young women, teaching life skills, financial literary, and health and wellness. She'll be continuing the after-school program on a part-time basis. She's looking forward to sharing more about the new job in the new year!

As always, if you'd like to help us continue our work in Tanzania, you can donate here. We thank you all for your generous support!


We were incredibly lucky to see more of this beautiful country that we live in. Though there's much more to see, through our travels, we understood more of Tanzanian culture and language that we wouldn't have, if we had stayed put in Mwanza.

we spent easter with the wataturu people in magalata, a middle-of-nowhere place, in the shinyanga region. 

we spent time in the city and at the beach in dar es salaam

we climbed to the top of the world! and by that, i mean, mount meru

and just because we're suckers for punishment, we did some more climbing in the usambara mountains in northeastern tanzania. (more on this trip in my next post!)

Fun Stuff 

And of course, lots o' fun things happened along the way!

And last but not least, the amazing evolution of Michael's hair in just one short year...

What will next year bring? Where will we travel to next? What new inspired fashions will Michael bring us?!?

The world will just have to wait to find out. Happy New Year, folks! Let's see what 2015 has in store.


  1. Dear Ashley and Michael,
    All I can say is wonderful job, guys!
    From a secular estimation, you are great, efficient, effective and affective. With a short period of time, you have done a lot of things in adapting to a totally new lifestyle, a totally new environment and so different mentality. That is a big achievement.
    From a spiritual aspect, your life there speaks louder than any preaching word. Your works and even your struggles make what you believe real and alive.
    God bless,
    Tino Nhan

  2. Dear Father Tino, We love you! Your word of encouragement mean so much to us, especially because we know you've done exactly what we've done - moved to a completely different country, adapted to a completely different culture, and learned a completely different language! (Though I think you've excelled more at English than we have at Kiswahili.) Thank you so much for your kind words! Happy 2015!


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