Jifundishe (pronounced “JEE foon DEE shay”) is the Swahili word meaning “teach yourself.” We are a grass roots organization, registered in Tanzania, that creates meaningful and collaborative change in rural Tanzanian communities through education and opportunity. In the United States, Jifundishe operates in collaboration with Project A.B.L.E., a 501c3 non-profit, and it is through this wonderful partnership that we are able to accept tax-deductible donations.
The organization was founded in 2004 when local students, teachers and villagers – together with foreign volunteers – identified the potential value that could come from a library in this area. In Tanzania, educational opportunities are often inaccessible due to financial, geographic, and resource constraints. The founding members of Jifundishe recognized that education not only greatly improves a general quality of life – but also that literacy and schooling are important common denominators in addressing disease prevention, birth rates, access to income, and community health. In response to this need, the founding members of Jifundishe coordinated donations of supplies and resources from the United States and Tanzania, and in November of 2005 opened the doors to the Imbaseni Free Library. The small, two room library provided books and gazettes and hosted specialized programs such as eye clinics, malaria prevention workshops, children’s reading programs, dental clinics, and writing workshops.
After evaluating and monitoring the successful usage and patronage at the Imbaseni Free Library for several years, the Jifundishe team set their sights on constructing the new, expanded Jifundishe Free Library, located just a short distance from the original site. Thanks to the local community, as well as to our friends in the United States and Europe, the bigger-and-better-than-ever JFL opened in 2009. The generous financial support provided by Project A.B.L.E., and well as the Crawford-Smith Foundation were the backbone of this expansion.
The JFL is now home to over 4,000 books, including all school curriculum texts, children’s educational resources, games, maps, gazettes and newspapers. The JFL hosts community wellness events, film nights and traditional art gatherings, and is also home to several craft co-operatives, a micro-lending program, and a solar-powered computer lab! The Jifundishe Free Library has been endorsed by many citizens and officials as the most unique and effective library in Tanzania.
Our mission is to provide opportunities for young people as well as adults to teach themselves using technology, books, and programs relevant to their lives and their futures.
Jifundishe places a strong focus on cultural relevance and programmatic sustainability. Jifundishe maintains a stringent and transparent budgetary process that utilizes donations, participation, and resources effectively and honestly.
Utilizing a dynamic and diverse team of staff and visitors, Jifundishe has developed a model of enrichment for both the members of the community we serve and the lives of our volunteers. Teaching is at the foundation of these programs, and our visitors bring a wealth of skill and knowledge which transfers into life-changing educational opportunities for our program participants.
Jifundishe’s programs are developed and overseen by our inter-disciplinary and diverse Executive Committee, as well as our Tanzanian staff and project managers.