A School for the Future of Africa


Joseph Wilhelm visits the Hekima Girls' Secondary School in Tanzania
At the Hekima Girls‘ Secondary School in Tanzania, Africa’s future is shaped. The project that combines top-quality school education and practical, hands-on organic agriculture is made possible through the HAND IN HAND program, Rapunzel’s proprietary fair-trade program.
Rapunzel founder Joseph Wilhelm and school principal Sister Esther Buberwa inaugurate a new dormitory at the Hekima Girls‘ Secondary School.
Rapunzel founder Joseph Wilhelm and school principal Sister Esther Buberwa inaugurate a new dormitory at the Hekima Girls‘ Secondary School.
It is already the third visit of Rapunzel founder and managing director, Joseph Wilhelm, to the Hekima Girls‘ Secondary School in Tanzania, not far from the shores of Lake Victoria. Even with our modern means of transportation, the trip takes 24 hours from the home base in the Allgäu region.

The pupils from the Hekima Girls‘ Secondary School sing and dance enthusiastically for the visitor from Germany. The staccato of the dancing girls’ feet stirs up the red African dust. Then the nuns who run the school also join in the dance and support the performance with shouts of joy. Even the sister in charge, Sister Esther Buberwa, with her more than 60 years shows her best hip swing and entertains the German visitor.

A model school at the equator: education and organic agriculture for Africa


In Swahili, the lingua franca of Eastern Africa, Hekima means wisdom, knowledge or intelligence. The school does credit to its name. The graduation rate is excellent, the grades are among the best in the country although the school is not a place that is ruled by an unpleasant aura of strictness. The pupils get perfectly equipped for their continuing educational path at a high school or the university.

Not all the graduates (but many), however, will continue with their studies. Some pupils will get married in their villages and stay at home. Not every Hekima graduate with an academic degree will find an appropriately qualified job in a stable, but poor country like Tanzania.
That is the reason why Sr. Esther puts such great emphasis on preparing her students not only for an academic career at the university, but also for the possibility of taking over the parental farming operation with knowledge in organic farming. Such a “dual education” is also supported by the Tanzanian government, since the government included the self-sufficiency of the Tanzanian farmers in its political agenda.

The work in the school garden and an education in organic farming methods are integral elements of school life. The pupils present the visitors the crops that they grow in the school garden. In the cafeteria they explain about homemade organic plant protection products.
At different stations, the pupils proudly present the crops from their school garden.
At different stations, the pupils proudly present the crops from their school garden.
More than just an African stereotype: the tremendous energy that the pupils have for dancing and singing is very touching.
More than just an African stereotype: the tremendous energy that the pupils have for dancing and singing is very touching.
The girls take this knowledge home to their parents – many of whom are members of the KCU Cooperative from where Rapunzel sources its fair-trade coffee. In this way, the pupils slowly bring about the change towards a more ecological agriculture.

This is very important, because international agricultural corporations from the US or China also have a growing influence in Tanzania. The corporations purchase vast expanses of farmland for their reckless cultivation of monocultures.
As of now, Hekima does not yet employ an independent teacher for organic farming practices. The pupils learn the organic principles and the hands-on farming practices from the nuns and from teachers who get supported free of charge by a state-run counseling center in the town of Bukoba. Sister Esther emphasizes, however, that Hekima wants to further expand the organic farming lessons. The school already owns additional farmland for the enlargement of the school garden; now the school needs to establish additional structures for the teaching of agricultural theory and hands-on methods.

Creating future HAND IN HAND


Joseph Wilhelm visits the gardens and admires the well-tended gardens of the ecclesiastical order: thoroughly mulched mixed cultures with strong coffee plants, delicious rows of pineapple and different fruit trees, manure-producing cattle that are manually fed homemade herbal medicinal mixtures… “You can see immediately “, he says, „that women are in charge here “. The nuns are laughing. Sr. Vestina, deputy sister at the Hekima school, underlines: „Rapunzel and Hekima are connected by the Gospel of ‚organics with love ‘.“

The highlight of the visit is the festive inauguration of a new dormitory at the Hekima school. Traces of the earthquake from 2016 can still be seen in the area. The new dormitory – with several bedrooms for 80 pupils instead of one single dormitory for 50 pupils that had been here before – overlooks the hilly African landscape. After several speeches, dances and songs, Joseph Wilhelm and Sr. Esther cut the ribbon and the new building is opened!

Over the entrance to the dormitory is a painted Rapunzel character with the slogan JOWIRAHA next to it. This abbreviation stands for Joseph Wilhelm, Rapunzel and HAND IN HAND and alludes to the Swahili term furaha which translates as „joy“. Because a significant part of the money for the new building comes from the HAND IN HAND fund, the joint initiative that was funded 1998 by Rapunzel Naturkost and the German Environmental Aid Inc. (DUH).
Rapunzel supports the fund with annual donations. The natural health food manufacturer pays 1% of the purchase price for the HAND IN HAND raw materials from the proprietary fair-trade program into the fund. Only in the year 2017, more than 170,000 Euro were generated in this way. Thus, money earned through fair-trade flows back to countries in Africa, Asia and Latin America. The Hekima model school could not have been realized without Rapunzel fair-trade with suppliers from the global South – and without customers in Europe and elsewhere who decide to buy these fair-trade products.

Additional donations from Rapunzel, the Rapunzel staff or from Joseph Wilhelm himself to the Girls‘ School supplement the project money from the HAND IN HAND fund. “In Germany, we enjoy such luxurious living conditions that it is my duty to share with others“ , declares Joseph Wilhelm in his opening speech.

Sr. Esther laughs and seizes the visitor ‘s hand. „We are brother and sister“, she calls out to the audience. “I don’t know what happened that one of us is white and the other one is black.”

Then, Sr. Esther and Joseph Wilhelm and all guests enter the dormitory where a new generation of African future makers will be shaped.
Outside area of the Hekima School: a mixed forest with shady banana trees and a barn for small domestic animals.
Outside area of the Hekima School: a mixed forest with shady banana trees and a barn for small domestic animals.
Rapunzel employee Holger Epp and Sr. Esther under a flowering coffee treeJedes
Rapunzel employee Holger Epp and Sr. Esther under a flowering coffee treeJedes
RAPUNZEL NATURKOST GmbH
Rapunzelstraße 1, D - 87764 Legau
Telefon: +49 (0) 8330 / 529 - 0
Telefax: +49 (0) 8330 / 529 - 1188
E-Mail: info@rapunzel.de
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RAPUNZEL NATURKOST GmbH
Rapunzelstraße 1, D - 87764 Legau
Telefon: +49 (0) 8330 / 529 - 0
Telefax: +49 (0) 8330 / 529 - 1188
E-Mail: info@rapunzel.de