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Last month, University of Wisconsin Oshkosh students got the chance to see just how meaningful their fundraising efforts were during a visit to Tanzania.

A group of 19 students traveled to Northern Tanzania on a Cultural Immersion Study Abroad trip that focused on women’s studies and social justice issues. UW Oshkosh professors Carmen Heider and Liz Cannon led the trip.

From Jan. 11 to 29, the students had the chance to experience a culture very different from their own. They visited Pete and Charlotte O’Neal’s United African Alliance Community Center, where they learned a Tanzanian dance and the art of batiking. Students also volunteered at KIWAKKUKI, a non-governmental organization that provides a range of services related to HIV/AIDS; toured a small hospital; visited a small-scale coffee farm, coffee cooperative, and coffee curing factory; visited the Miichi Women’s Group fair trade shop; and learned about women’s roles in a Masai community, where students learned how to pull a bucket of water from a well using rope.

But for UW Oshkosh students Robyn Anderson, Amber Hall, Teffanie Price, Kayla Woltmann, Troy Landry, Patti Roden, Brendan Wood-Taylor, Erin Heimerl, Melissa Konichek and Nick Nugent, perhaps the most rewarding experience of the trip came when they presented a check for nearly $3,000 to the students and faculty at Marlex Secondary School in Marangu Village.

John Mkenda, who oversees Marlex Secondary School, explained that in 2005, the Tanzanian government mandated that every village was to build a government secondary school, but the government provided no funding for the construction of these schools. This school has since relied on donations for the construction of several buildings, along with support for students who do not have the funding to attend.

Students raised the money through a fundraising project they started three months before their departure. Along with individual letter campaigns, students sold caramel apples and baked good on campus. Although education in Tanzania would seem inexpensive to us, many children cannot go to school because there is either not enough funding for schools to be built or for teachers to be employed. Additionally, families are often unable to afford school fees. The money the UW Oshkosh students raised will go a long way in supporting the education of these Tanzanian children.

Some of the students also donated soccer balls to Marlex and Kikoro Primary School. All 19 of the Oshkosh students were able to spend a day at each of the schools to get to know and play with the students they helped support. UWO students hope to continue fundraising for the schools and will return to Tanzania in 2012.

Nick Nugent submitted this story. Faculty, staff and students are encouraged to contribute calendar items, campus announcements and other good news to UW Oshkosh Today. Click here to submit.