When Seeing the World and Doing Good Collide

A few years ago we hosted a German exchange student, Max, for a semester. This summer he and his girlfriend, Teresa, went to Tanzania with the goal of helping local women start and grow businesses of their own. They quickly ran into a problem. Despite coming up with creative ideas, the women in charge of the program didn’t want help, and their efforts were refused. It was quite a disappointment, but out of adversity came opportunity.

Max and Teresa noticed that there was trash all over the community; huge piles with dogs, cows and goats rummaging through them. They learned that periodically trash would be gathered and burned, including plastic, which of course produces toxic emissions. They decided to put their time and efforts into not only cleaning up the mess, but involving the residents so that waste collection and recycling would continue after they returned home.

After successfully crowd funding (they met their goal in just a few days), materials were purchased to make four trash cans that were placed throughout the community. Meetings were held with residents, and a person was hired with a weekly wage to empty and maintain the trash cans. While plastic bottles can be sold to recycling centers in the city, other plastics, like bags, cannot. One idea is to use these non-recyclable plastics to make pillows which are wrapped in locally produced cloth.

Community Meeting

St. Augustine University of Tanzania in Mwanza is very interested in not only keeping this project alive after Max and Teresa are gone, but in improving and expanding it. There are lots of obstacles to overcome, such as getting proper tools to pick up trash, which is sometimes half buried, but there is a strong desire by many in the community to overcome these obstacles and also to educate residents on the importance of proper waste disposal, adopting new habits, and maintaining cleaner, healthier neighborhoods.

I’d say it was a summer well spent! You can check out TRASHEROS on Facebook here.

23 Comments on “When Seeing the World and Doing Good Collide

  1. That’s wonderful. I specially liked the fact that they have hired a person on weekly wages to maintain it. A lot of initiatives fall short because voluntary workers may not be able to do justice to the project in the long run and it is not fair to take such services for granted. God bless.

    Liked by 3 people

  2. I once wondered why litter was so common in poor communities. But a friend who had “escaped” such a community in the U.S. said until he went to live with his grandmother in another community, he took it for granted, he didn’t actually “see” it, and thought nothing of dropping a gum wrapper or anything else. It is wonderful that Max and Teresa opened these people’s eyes.

    Liked by 4 people

    • Isn’t it so interesting? It’s something I had never considered and I have totally taken trash collection for granted. You’re right…it’s exciting to see the positive changes that can be made by making people aware that there is a better way.

      Liked by 2 people

  3. They really woke everyone up! This is so inspiring! Like someone said above in the comments, people who live there have to learn to take better care of their community.

    Liked by 2 people

    • I was interested in that too and this is what Max said about it. “The problem with the women’s business development project is that the two women responsible at the microcredit company do not know what they need help with and they are often very lazy, i.e. they don’t do anything that helps their client’s businesses grow. We have tried to come up with creative ideas and help them increase their visibility but in the end it turned out that their problem is the mindset of not accepting our help. That’s why we decided to focus entirely on Trasheroes.” It is really too bad that they missed this opportunity, but in the end, the community as a whole benefited tremendously.

      Liked by 2 people

  4. Very inspiring students with their project….Look like the village have a problem to recycle the trash…a semester student exchange is a good period to implement the project.
    Nice ……

    Liked by 2 people

  5. It is so wonderful to see the younger generation taking a stand and doing something worthwhile! Thank you for sharing this with us!❤️


  6. Hi,
    I’ve enjoyed the posts I’ve read so far on your blog. You got my follow with this one as it speaks to me very much. I can’t wait to read more of you and get to know you better. -Dominique

    Liked by 1 person

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