Peace by Piece, Inc. is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization that provides aid to orphaned and vulnerable children in developing countries, with current efforts focused in Tanzania, Africa. It is our hope that by providing education, nourishment, shelter and clothing; we will build better lives for these children and take a small step towards eradicating poverty, peace by piece…
The idea for Peace by Piece originated in 2010 following a life-changing trip to Tanzania. I was fortunate to spend 2 months teaching and volunteering at Peace Matunda Orphanage and Children’s Centre, located in Kimundo Village, outside of Arusha. It was during that trip that my eyes and ultimately my heart were opened to another world; a world where children are lucky if they have three meals a day, are privileged to have one pair of shoes and one change of clothing. It’s a place where it is the exception, not the rule, for a child to be educated beyond the 7th grade. Yet these children work just as hard, love just as much and dream just as big as the children in our own community. Mery, at 8 years old, told me that she wants to be a teacher when she grows up. Maria, 6, wants to be a pilot; Editha, 7, a nurse.
Peace Matunda consists of a small orphanage combined with a preschool and primary school. Twenty-four children currently live at the orphanage and attend the on-site school. Additionally, another 150 children from the surrounding villages attend the school. Many of these children are also orphans, living in dire circumstances with extended family, often elderly great-grandmothers, waiting patiently on the list for the housing opportunities at the orphanage. Peace Matunda Primary School added a grade each year and was finally complete with 7 standard levels (equivalent to the 7th grade in the United States) in January 2014. The first standard 7 graduation was in December 2014.
During my time at Peace Matunda, I learned that when the children finish the 7th grade, they would age out of the orphanage, essentially ending their education as secondary school in Tanzania is not free. While significant progress was made by the Tanzanian government in 2016, eliminating school fees for the first 4 years of secondary school, the costs of uniforms, school supplies, text books, lunches and additional required contributions continue to make school unaffordable for many. At 12 years old, the same age that I was just starting to daydream about the many possibilities of what I wanted to be when I grow up, these children would be released into the world as adults to work and support not only themselves, but often their younger siblings as well.
Tanzania, like many other African countries is facing a poverty epidemic, as 49% of the population lives below the international poverty line of $1.90(a). It is our belief that one of the primary contributors to the country’s poverty is the lack of access to quality education. Only 23% of Tanzanian children attend early secondary school, equivalent to middle school in the United States(b). Attendance rates drop further beyond middle school with only 3% of students enrolling in high school(b). The remaining children who do not attend secondary school are faced with limited employment options. Often these children are destined to work on family farms (80% of Tanzanian households depend on agriculture as their primary economic activity(c)) for a meager existence, as they are not skilled or trained to pursue other opportunities. If orphaned, even this option is nonexistent. Additionally, lack of education contributes to other social issues such as high fertility rates, which add to the vicious poverty cycle. Tanzanian women with no formal education average 6.9 births(d), ranking Tanzania 12th amongst the countries with the world’s highest fertility rates(e). Statistics show that education is an effective tool to fight this epidemic. For example, when women are provided secondary school education, studies report that fertility rates are reduced by 54% to 3.2 births per woman(d).
Upon the realization that too many of these amazing and incredibly bright children would not have the opportunities they deserve, the idea for Peace by Piece (PbP) was born. The mission of PbP includes providing the infrastructure and scholarships necessary for the children at Peace Matunda Orphanage, as well as orphans and vulnerable children living in the local village, to continue their education at the secondary school level. We hope to turn their dreams of becoming teachers, pilots and nurses into a reality.
A return to Tanzania laid the foundation for the Peace by Piece scholarship program and for obtaining 501(c)3 status, which was officially granted in June, 2011. We then began planning...
For years, we researched the Tanzanian school system, visited schools and created a list ranking schools with the highest quality education at the best cost. We networked, reaching out to other NGOs working in Arusha, potential sponsors and anyone willing to hear our story. We raised money to fund our project. And finally the first graduating class at Peace Matunda Primary was ready to join our program! In January 2015, eleven students entered the Peace by Piece scholarship program. Four of these students excelled on the rigorous private school entrance exams and Peace by Peace was able to procure sponsors to send these students to Edmund Rice Secondary School, a boarding school in Arusha. Seven extremely bright students also had the opportunity to attend Nkoarisambu Secondary School on Mt. Meru as day-students. This class has since graduated from middle school and is now excelling in high school.
Seventy-four students have joined our program since that first class in 2015. Peace by Piece scholarships are academic and need based and candidates are determined with input from the administrative staff at Peace Matunda Primary School, Nkoarisambu Secondary School as well as Edmund Rice Secondary School. Living and school supplies, school fees, transportation costs and, as needed, room and board, are covered for these students. It is our hope that we can build a better foundation for life for these children and take small steps toward eradicating poverty, peace by piece. We would love for you to take this journey along with us. Together, we can build brighter futures.
Peace and love,
Susan Carlson, Co-founder and Director: Susan is a speech language pathologist in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. The time she spent working with the children of Peace Matunda sparked the idea for Peace by Piece. Susan can be reached at PbPAfrica@gmail.com
Chad Carlson, Co-founder, Vice-Chairman and Treasurer: Chad is a graduate of Harvard Business School and is currently working as a Senior Vice President of a real estate and investment firm in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. Chad and Susan started Peace by Piece after a trip to Tanzania in 2009.
Madeleine Hallum, Secretary: Madeleine is a registered dietitian as well as a talented artist. She currently resides in Murfreesboro, Tennessee. Madeleine spent 5 months teaching and volunteering at Peace Matunda in 2009 and is one of the initial members of the board of directors.
Johanna Hemmingsson: Johanna spent 12 months at Peace Matunda in 2008-2009 as project manager. She has also worked for an NGO in Indonesia combatting child trafficking and child sex tourism. Johanna is originally from Sweden, but currently lives in Perth where she studies law.
Joanne "JoJo" Howard: JoJo was one of the first volunteers at Peace Matunda Orphanage and Primary school. She resides in Hawaii and is founder and director of Gone Surfing Hawaii which provides small group and private surfing lessons.
Unambwe and Martha Kaaya run Peace Matunda Orphanage and Children’s Center. Martha and Kaaya work closely with Peace by Piece to guarantee a bright future for the children as they finish their primary school education at Peace Matunda Primary School. While Peace by Piece funds secondary school scholarships for the children after they have left Peace Matunda, Peace Matunda's staff is instrumental in organizing operations on-site such as getting supplies for the students and transporting the children to and from entrance exams and school.
“Peace is no mere matter of men fighting or not fighting. Peace, to have meaning for many who have known only suffering in both peace and war, must be translated into bread or rice, shelter, health, and education, as well as freedom and human dignity - a steadily better life. If peace is to be secure, long-suffering and long-starved, forgotten peoples of the world, the underprivileged and the undernourished, must begin to realize without delay the promise of a new day and a new life.”
-Ralph J. Bunche, 1950 Nobel Peace Prize winner