Slow Food Embraces Joy + Justice with the Mungere School

The Mungere School and its organic garden share a mission to empower its local indigenous community through education and food security. Soon to be part of the 10,000 Gardens in Africa network, the school is pioneering sustainability in the Mungere region and reshaping its food system to be equitable, inclusive and just. This is why the Equity, Inclusion and Justice (EIJ) working group is partnering with the school in our Embrace Joy + Justice campaign. By donating, you will not only support EIJ programming here in the States: you will also be supporting the Maasai artisans that made the Joy + Justice embracelets to symbolize our cause and our solidarity. Learn more about the school at the Red Sweater Project website. 

In 2005, Michigan native Ashley Holmer left home to live and work in a small Maasai village in Tanzania for one year. At the end of her post as an English teacher and soccer coach, elders of a nearby community approached her with a proposition: they would give her land for free if she would build them their first high school.

Fourteen years later, Holmer’s efforts have educated more than 800 students through high school and collegiate levels. The Red Sweater Project continues to collaborate with developing communities to create affordable, accessible, and innovative opportunities for education beyond the sixth grade, where it currently does not exist for the majority of children. 

Mungere School is located in a rural village, outside the town of Mto wa Mbu, 100 kilometers west of the town of Arusha. Mungere’s aim is to serve as a model for development programs seeking to create partnerships that honor tradition and local leadership and to encourage sustainability. The school maintains a strong commitment to preserving tribal heritage: students wear red and blue uniforms inspired by traditional Maasai garments, and parents and local tribal government remain actively involved in the school.

Through this direct partnership with local leaders, Red Sweater Project has developed a holistic approach to addressing the diverse needs of the more than 170 at-risk children who have attended the school. The Mungere School’s model provides not just quality education, but also basic health care, access to safe water and sanitation, and sustainably-designed infrastructure, with passive handwashing stations, composting toilets, and a subterranean cistern to collect rainwater. Staff, students, and volunteers have even created an organic garden, which provides produce to feed students and staff two healthy meals every day. 

Gardening in Mungere can mean facing unique environmental challenges (including water shortages during the long, dry seasons) which contribute to food scarcity and generational poverty in rural areas. Through the newly installed 150,000 liter subterranean tank, the school now has year-round water storage not only for cleaning, washing and drinking, but also for the ever-expanding garden.

The garden also creates educational opportunities for students by demonstrating a sustainable agricultural model, as each crop grown on site reduces the cost of purchasing food for the school. There is also potential for future sales from the extra produce to the community, which will in turn support the program – purchasing seeds, paying staff to manage the garden, and re-investing in farm infrastructure.

Every year, Red Sweater Project welcomes volunteers to the campus to assist with construction and development tasks focused on running a healthier, more sustainable, and more productive garden and meal program. Future plans include improving the garden’s irrigation capabilities and campus sustainability with drip hoses, pumps, sprinklers, and additional roof rainwater collection gutters and tanks. 

By providing education, basic health care, and an organic vegetable garden for young people in rural Tanzania, on a sustainably powered and thoughtfully developing campus, the organization has adopted holistic model that emphasizes all needs of students, effectively interrupting the cycle of generational poverty. 

The EIJ working group is a collective of Slow Food leaders across the country committed to bringing diverse voices to the table and supporting those communities underrepresented in the food movement at large. The funds raised in the Embrace Joy + Justice campaign will support:

  • Scholarships for indigenous delegates to attend our annual leader summit at Slow Food Nations 
  • Panels and presentations on the issues undermining food justice
  • EIJ training at the Leader Summit
  • Special Slow Food Turtle Island dinner featuring indigenous food
  • Video recording of the entire Slow Food Nations event for broader reach
  • A Slow Food EIJ curriculum to implement our principles nationwide

To donate and receive your Joy + Justice embracelet, please visit our website

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