Ally Seif Ramadhani wanted to make life better for youth in Tanzania growing up amid political strife and environmental degradation. He left his country to learn how, joining the ACLU of Georgia for a fellowship. Now, Ally is empowering school-aged Tanzanians to bring about positive change.

Ally Seif Ramadhani wanted to make life better in his country for youth, who struggle amid abuse, extreme pollution, and political strife while growing up in Tanzania. Ally left his country in search of a solution.

His search brought him to the ACLU of Georgia for an IREX fellowship last summer. While his time here was short, Ally found exactly what he needed to launch a program, empowering school-aged Tanzanians to bring about positive change.

“I learned a lot during my fellowship,” Ally said via email from across the Atlantic Ocean. “I learned about mobilizing youth for programs inside and outside of institutions, and I realized the importance of engaging and empowering young people, especially students (interested) in the promotion and protection of human rights.”

Civic awareness among Americans, and participation in the democratic process, is much higher than in Tanzania, Ally said. He said he appreciated the ACLU of Georgia’s “people-centered” approach to advocacy, after witnessing our focus on reaching out to all Georgians to protect civil rights and liberties, as well as actions meant to grab the attention of decision makers. With these new perspectives in mind, and Ally’s desire to uplift young people, he started the KIRANJA Project.

KIRANJA strengthens youth leadership skills at a grassroots level by teaching students about human rights, peacebuilding approaches, and basic environmental protection tactics. KIRANJA is an acronym: Knowledgeability, integrity, reliability, accountability, negotiability, jubilation, accessibility. It’s also a Swahili term that translates to ‘prefect,’ which figuratively means a leader, an icon, or a person of example, among other meanings.

A total of 25 students from Kibasila Secondary School in Dar-es-Salaam, Tanzania are participating in the project’s beginnings. The students are enjoying their classes, likely because the time Ally spends with them is highly participatory and solution-oriented. 

“The students are fully engaged, analyzing the problems they have in their surroundings and the effects they bring. They’re innovative in their approaches to addressing those problems,” Ally said.

The goal is to expand the program following the pilot class “due to increasing child abuse incidents in Tanzania, minimal youth participation in leadership and democratic governance processes, extreme environmental pollution in urban settings, and threats of terror in coastal regions due to political misunderstandings and religious tensions in the country,” he said. 

Ally joined us in August of last year as a Community Solutions Program Fellow, part of a professional leadership development program sponsored by the U.S. Department of State and supported by the International Research & Exchanges Board, aka IREX. Working with Evan Malbrough, our Voter Access Project Fellow, Ally helped elevate our community engagement in numerous ways during Georgia’s 2022 midterm and runoff elections.

“Ally's presence and willingness to learn were an amazing addition to the affiliate. His work directly helped us staff polling places and protect them,” Malbrough said.

Ally says he was able to pick up new skills and change his worldview.

“Practicing daily American lifestyle values, traditions, and culture including foods, social events like holidays, and many others transformed my understanding about America and Americans, enabled me to learn and unlearn many things,” he said.

If you’re looking to get involved, Ally says you won’t regret working with us:

“I would vehemently recommend anyone who is interested to learn and acquire practical experience on human rights and policy development to apply for an internship or volunteering with ACLU of Georgia, since the organization is well and equally treating its staff, volunteers, fellows and interns. They give you an opportunity to learn its internal systems and fully engage its staff on every step of planning and implementation of its work.”

Ally Seif Ramadhani with students of the KIRANJA Project


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