After over a year of construction, Girls Education Collaborative (GEC) is pleased to announce the completion of the Anne Robinson Wadsworth Center for Collaboration, in Kitenga, Tanzania. The completion of this Center will allow for a deeper partnership with the Immaculate Heart Sisters of Africa and the Kitenga Girls Secondary School. The goal of this center is to foster a collaborative space in the fight for global gender equality while connecting communities for the common good.
The need for the center was quickly realized after the success seen at the guest house, Betsy’s House, on the school campus. Every trip to Tanzania made by GEC Executive Director, Anne Wadsworth, has put the guest house over capacity, as well as being used by the Sisters when they have visitors to campus and for special guests.
The completion of the Center for Collaboration opens up the campus to visitors from both within Tanzania and globally. The space is truly meant for collaboration with space for 14 guests as well as a community gathering space. Researchers, experts, students, teachers, trainers, volunteers and supporters will all be welcome to exchange their skills and talents in the Center for Collaboration with the shared goal of smashing gender-based barriers to education and fulfilling the mission of providing a quality education to girls.
To date, Girls Education Collaborative has helped support the mission of the Kitenga Girls Secondary School in the Mara region of Tanzania, connecting Buffalo to the global fight for gender equality. This school provides a secondary education to girls who might otherwise be child brides and/or denied access to an education. Each year of secondary education reduces the risk of marrying as a child by up to 17 percentage points, and reduces the risk of early childbearing by 9 percentage points.
“The completion of the Center for Collaboration moves us closer towards fulfilling our belief in connecting communities for the common good,” states Anne Robinson Wadsworth, Executive Director of Girls Education Collaborative. She continues “This center marks a huge step forward in supporting the local change-makers working so hard to create new pathways for the marginalized girls of their communities. We’re so thrilled to unveil this center, it’s a bright spot in an otherwise challenging year.”
Ground broke in February 2020 and despite the COVID-19 pandemic, construction forged ahead, providing much-needed local jobs during a time of extreme hardship for residents. Because of continuing restrictions due to the pandemic, Tanzanian experts and volunteers will be the first to use the center, taking the first step in utilizing the space for collaboration.
The Center features a gathering room, an office, bedrooms around a courtyard to accommodate 14 guests, a kitchen, running water, a scenic verandah and bathrooms. Furthermore, local furniture makers and artisans were contracted to custom make most furnishings; including sustainably produced papyrus furniture, like the existing furniture currently found in Betsy’s House. Solar electricity, security fencing, and the housekeeper’s house are all in the works, too!
A volunteer center in Kitenga has been a long-held dream of the Immaculate Heart Sisters of Africa. It all became feasible when The Theodore and Pauline Cohen Charitable Trust committed the lead gift with hopes of inspiring other dedicated GEC donors to join.
Longtime supporters Gene and Kathy Gramza secured the naming rights with another lead gift and in tribute to GEC’s founding director, they asked if the facility could be called the Anne Robinson Wadsworth Center for Collaboration.
Gene states, “Kathy and I are inspired by the wonderful work Anne and GEC have done to partner with the Immaculate Heart Sisters of Africa for the benefit of the Kitenga Girls Secondary School. We believe the Center for Collaboration will help build relationships that create additional education and career opportunities for girls in Tanzania and beyond.”
An additional major gift by Bob Berger led to the idea of creating a connected complex between the existing guest house, Betsy’s House, and the new Center for Collaboration, to be called the GEC Volunteer Village.
Key donors include: the Deck and Vukelic Family in funding the courtyard; The Cardinal Fund (Carole Petro & daughters) for sponsoring the kitchen; Diane Imbrogno in sponsoring the gathering room; Anonymous in sponsoring the verandah; bedrooms are sponsored by The Theodore and Pauline Cohen Charitable Trust, Amy Fuchs, the Immaculate Heart Central School in Watertown, NY and an additional gift made by Bob Berger naming a bedroom after his first grandson.