The Hoja Project was set up as a UK registered charity in 2005 and since 2013 has now run under the charity registration of COCO (Comrades Of Children Overseas). COCO has supported Hoja since the very early days, so this represents no real change in the day-to-day operation of Hoja.

COCO's webpage on Hoja can be found here, and they regularly produce news on all their projects. This blog is updated on a volunteer basis, so new posts tend to be every few months.

Saturday, 2 August 2014

Hoja Ireland Picnic Money Goes To Sustainable Agriculture Projects

Greetings all - time for an occasional update!

Long-time supporter and all round good bod Virginia has a history of organising events to raise lots of money for Hoja - not least through her annual beach picnic in Ireland.

She recently asked COCO where last year's money went and other general questions about COCO/Hoja's relationship, and this was COCO Overseas Operations Coordinator Brad's reply:
1.Where did last year's money go?

Last year's money all went directly to The Hoja Project. The vast majority (over £1,400 of the £1,620.17 raised) went towards sustainable agriculture, with the rest making its way to Hoja for other uses.

2. How do COCO and Hoja link together?

COCO are passionate about community-led development. Therefore, COCO seek to work alongside community-based organisations (CBOs). The Hoja Project are the main CBO which COCO work alongside in Tanzania. The relationship works by The Hoja Project being responsible for identifying needs in the local community, COCO and The Hoja Project then work together to satisfy such needs in a sustainable and responsible way.

3. What COCO is and does.

COCO is a children's education NGO operating in East Africa. As an organisation, COCO places huge emphasis on the sustainability of projects, ensuring that every penny spent is done so with the intention of helping beneficiaries to stand on their own two feet, rather than making them dependent on donations from overseas. As a small organisation, COCO is able to account for all money spent to ensure that it all has a tangible benefit to vulnerable people.
Brad also included this brilliant case study to give an example of where the money goes:

Case Study: Permaculture in Action.  Damas & Condrada Fussi, Litisha, Tanzania.

Damas and Condrada are subsistence farmers, living in Litisha Village, close to Songea in rural Tanzania.

They have both been trained in permaculture techniques by The Hoja Project, funded by COCO.

Since being trained in permaculture techniques, Damas has been able to increase his annual income from under 600,000TSH (£214) each year, to around 3,750,000TSH (£1340).   An increase of more than six times!

When asked how he managed to increase his income by such a huge amount, Damas explains that when he started to use permaculture techniques, he could produce far greater yields and thus earn much more income.

Rather than spending all of his income, Damas reinvested in his business by cultivating more land to further enhance his future income.

His additional income has been able to enroll his children into education.  Damas has four children; two of whom are in primary school, one is in nursery and the other will be enrolled once she is old enough.

In addition to their education, Damas is able to provide his children with healthy, nutritious food and healthcare.  “Before I was not able to afford things and now I can.  For example, when any of my children are ill I can now definitely afford treatment for them.”

As well as both receiving permaculture training, Damas and Condrada also received access to a cow. Condrada explained the benefits of having access to a cow as ‘the three M’s… milk, money and manure!’

Selling milk and using manure to fertilise her crops has contributed to Condrada increasing her income from 100,000TSH (£36) to 750,000TSH (£268) each year. 

Her additional income has helped Condrada to educate and provide healthcare to her four children, and she even saves some of her milk to benefit the family!

Through COCO, The Hoja Project have helped Damas and Condrada to help themselves!


These kind of income increases are a massive deal, because it means that Damas and Condrada now have the means to continue to improve their lives and their children's lives without (hopefully) further input from COCO/Hoja!

Our Income Generation Projects, funded by small loans, has been particularly effective at these kinds of changes in the past, and now our Permaculture programme is giving the local community another similar boost.

Tuesday, 3 December 2013

Oswin in the UK, and mullet book raising money for the Hoja Project

Oswin with Steve Cram and the COCO team
last time he was in the UK in 2009
It's quite an exciting couple of weeks for Hoja, so I think it's worth an occasional update.

Oswin is in the UK, and has been spending the last week or so in Newcastle, visiting schools and supporting organisations, and attending COCO events.

At the weekend he'll be coming down to London, where a number of us Hoja UK volunteers are based, and we can't wait to see him!

He'll visit more schools and supporters down here, and attending a Christmas Hoja get-together.

In other news, a friend of mine Simon Varwell has released his second book, The Return Of The Mullet Hunter, into the wild.  It's nothing to do with the haircut or the fish (well, it's slightly to do with both), but about his attempts to visit every place in the world with the word 'mullet' in its name.

His project started off as a little silly challenge that got way out of hand.  So much so that it's required (at least) two books to tell the story.  This is his second book, and it's a fun and engaging read, as you follow him around the world, facing both success and disappointment at different stages of his journey.

A few months ago Simon asked me to design the cover for the book (I talked about that on my own blog), and as part of that deal he has promised to give 10% of the book's proceeds to Hoja.

So you could do worse than pick this book as your Christmas read when the family get a bit too much.  It's available on Kindle from Amazon.

Tuesday, 18 June 2013

All Change!

You may have noticed that this site has become quieter and quieter in terms of providing news about what Hoja are up to in Songea.  However, this doesn't mean that Hoja has been winding down in any way.  Just that I've been ridiculously busy with other commitments, and haven't been involved in Hoja so much lately.

Hoja continue to produce excellent exam results for their students, give out microfinance loans so local people can start small businesses to create their own income, and help farmers get the most out of their land.

In fact an important change has been made to Hoja recently.  In the UK it's no longer operating as its own charity, but is operating as part of COCO.  Don't worry though, Hoja have in practice been operating as part of COCO for years, so this doesn't represent any change in operations.  Rather, a bit of housekeeping.  It just seemed a bit silly to keep them as separate organisations.

As such, I've done a bit of an edit of some of the content on this site (contact and donation details, mostly).  I'm also going to stop pretending that I have time to keep typing out updates on here, when COCO have their own News Page anyway.

You can find out Hoja's news there, as well as all of the other wonderful projects that COCO run.  If you ask them nicely, I'm sure they'll even add you to their mailing list.

Next time I make it out to Tanzania, however, I may well post some updates on here of what I've learned.  Sadly that won't be all that soon.