The Tujenge Africa Foundation is a U.S.-based 501(c)(3) non-profit organization with operations in Africa’s Great Lakes region. “Tujenge” is a Swahili verb, which means to build or construct. Our goal is to build African capacity through quality, innovative, and boundary-pushing education. TAF will help boost the potential of the poorest and most marginalized in the African Great Lakes region through development initiatives that focus on education, dialogue, and economic advancement. TAF has begun its initial phase of operations in Burundi, while maintaining a long-term vision of providing the same opportunities in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Rwanda, Uganda, Tanzania, as well as in other conflict-ridden nations in Africa.
Our vision at the Tujenge Africa Foundation is an African continent where nation-building efforts, especially in post-conflict states, privileges quality, affordable education—as well as training in leadership, entrepreneurship, and peace-building—for all youth.
Through its diverse portfolio of initiatives, Tujenge Africa Foundation strives to create thriving educational centers of thought and inspiration to transform post-conflict youth into innovators, leaders, entrepreneurs, and peace agents in their communities.
We seek to create empathetic institutions that truly understand the plight of impoverished people, as well as anyone who might experience discrimination or marginalization based on ethnicity, gender, sexuality, ability, religion or creed, and area of residence.
Burundi is one of the smallest countries in the Great Lakes region of Africa. Burundi borders Tanzania to the east and south, the Democratic Republic of the Congo to the west, and Rwanda to the north. It is an extremely rural society, with a population of about 10 million people. With an area of 10,745 square miles (27,830 sq. km), Burundi is one of the most densely populated countries in the world. Indeed, competition of land rights has been an important factor that has shaped conflict for the last three decades. Burundi is extremely impoverished, which accounts for one of the lowest Human Development Index (HDI) and per capita GDP on the continent of Africa. Lastly, while primary school is free in Burundi, only 34% of students can afford high school education, which often lacks academic rigor.
Today, Burundi remains one of the poorest, most isolated, and least understood countries in the world. In the East African Community, of which Burundi is a member state, the country lags behind in almost all indices of well-being and prosperity. In the absence of a well-educated population, Burundi stands to gain very little from the integration efforts that regional leaders are spearheading. Indeed, one way to rectify this challenge is to enable human development in the country, so that the educated population can compete with its East African counterparts and in the process uplift its society. We are aware that our efforts are by no means a panacea for the problems bedeviling the country; however, every worthwhile struggle starts with incremental measures, and in the spirit of starting a journey, we want to participate in this long and arduous process of development. We chose an area where we can have the highest impact, and education is the greatest tool to do so.
The Tujenge Africa Foundation is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization incorporated in the United States of America, operating in Burundi with authorization from the Ministère de l’Intérieur du Burundi. Tujenge Africa Foundation does not discriminate its programs or activities based on race, color, national or ethnic origin, ancestry, age, religion or religious creed, disability or handicap, sex or gender, gender identity and/or expression, sexual orientation, or military or veteran status.
The Tujenge Peace Academy will give access and opportunity to young people who would never dream of attending such a school. We plan to build on our successes with the Tujenge Scholars Program to develop an educational institution to work with students from a younger age, cultivating an academic tradition of excellence that is deeply rooted in empathy, humility, humanity, sacrifice, service, and nation-building.
A network of public libraries will enable Tujenge Africa Foundation to promote general literacy and early childhood education. Particular focus will be placed on creating programing that targets mothers, grandmothers and other guardians, and women of child-bearing age.
“These inspiring men represent the future of what’s possible for youth on the African continent. The Tujenge Africa Foundation can make a material difference in the country over time: access to education is a critical element to rebuilding the nation. Wendell and Etienne’s stories are riveting, their passion, palpable… and they have made significant progress from establishing a vision, to breaking ground, to fostering critical relationships with leaders in Burundi and beyond. Theirs is an incredible story—and their story can be the story of many more youth in this embattled region. If anyone can ignite the passion of a dream of a better life, a better future, a better continent, these are the people to do it.”