Amizade Global Service-Learning and Volunteer Programs, a nonprofit organization partnered with West Virginia University to offer academically rigorous global service-learning programs that promote global citizenship and understanding, is competing for first place in a contest run by Africa Rural Connect.

The contest, which is based on internet voting for favorite projects, is designed to highlight innovative ideas in rural African development. To support WVU’s contributions to development in East Africa, students, staff, and faculty members have an opportunity to register and click “endorse it” on the contest Web site: .

WVU students have been contributing to these water harvesting programs in Karagwe District, Tanzania, since 2007. Since that time, one group of students has participated every summer. In the spring, Amizade and WVU are offering the first Tanzania Service-Learning Semester, which will feature opportunities to work on sustainable development, water harvesting and women’s rights initiatives, while studying international justice and ethics, community-driven development, and Swahili (Swahili and English are Tanzania’s official languages).

WVU students who have contributed to the efforts in Tanzania include Erin Kauffman, psychology; Lindsay Nakaishi, public health; Stephanie Conni, multidisciplinary studies; Chris Drescher, psychology; Jennifer Armentrout, nursing; Laurel Beatty, education and mathematics; Caleb King, biology; and Katie Hornak, Camille Starr and Natalie Snyder, all political science. Additionally, Adventure West Virginia staff member Nathan Harlan has volunteered at the site.

The program is open to students from any major, and tends to attract students interested in making a difference through their studies and eventual careers. During their time in Tanzania, students have direct experience with public health, medicine, sustainable development and women’s rights issues in rural Africa. Additionally, students’ course work helps support and better explain their experiences, with readings on development studies and East Africa.

The program often attracts students from other colleges and universities who do not have access to the kind of opportunities offered through Amizade’s partnership with the WVU’s Center for Civic Engagement and Office of International Programs. During the last three years of Amizade-WVU programs in Tanzania, students from the following universities have applied to WVU in order to participate: Keene State University, Point Park University, Temple University, The University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, The University of Pennsylvania, The University of Pittsburgh, The University of Pittsburgh’s Graduate School of Public and International Affairs and Xavier University of Ohio.

Amizade’s executive director, who also serves as an instructor approved through WVU’s political science, public administration and history departments, shared the human impact that winning the Africa Rural Connect contest would have for Amizade-WVU partner communities in rural Tanzania.

“Winning this contest will help us liberate approximately 70 people from the daily drudgery of water gathering,” said Eric Hartman, executive director for Amizade. “It’s hard to imagine the impact this can have for individual women and children. Having access to water is absolutely empowering. It gives people time to attend school, an opportunity to work, and a chance to pursue what they choose to pursue in life.”

Hartman provided further explanation about the water harvesting efforts and the contest on his Amizade Blog,

For more information, contact Rebekah Harlan, Amizade program coordinator, at 304-293-6049 or


CONTACT: Brett White, WVU Center for Civic Engagement