History -1999 to present

Boot Camp 2012Boot_Camp_2012.html

This Historic Summary is taken from the a presentation by Douglas McFalls

    It all began in December of 1999 when I made my first trip to Mtwara, Tanzania to visit missionary friends of mine. In the back of my heart I had wished to help in the  Developing World – but I never imagine it would be Africa.  There I discovered many talented artisans, but few products of great appeal and most of low quality.

    I was invited, to work with the Akina Mama (women folk) group from the missionaries’ church that had formed with the hope of gaining income for their families and church through sewing items to sell to missionaries and the occasional visitor. The immediate problem I encountered was their misperception of what a foreign visitor looks for from Africa. Logically (to the women) if you have the money, you buy sturdy Chinese plastic items, and bright color polyesters fabrics - and foreigners have money.

    From this observation came lessons number one: What tourists are looking for from Africa: The natural, the hand made, the traditional, and the “primitive”. “Make it like your grandmother made it.”This lead to lesson number two – You must develop product designs that appeal. Which lead to lesson…

#3 -  you must follow directions

#4 – you must copy the samples carefully

#5 – do quality workmanship

#6 – do quality consistently

#7 – be honest – letting your yes mean yes

#8 – have seriousness of intent  - And the list kept growing

    To make a long story short: After various events and frustrations with long distance attempts to help, I closed down my Boston design practice and moved to Tanzania in April of 2003 to establish ADEA with Philipo Lulale, a talented Tanzanian artist with business experience, exceedingly honest, an affective teacher, and a heart to help those in need. The bi-cultural makeup of our leadership team has set ADEA apart from the majority of economic development projects and is key to our success. Philipo, as a Tanzanian, and myself, as an international, represent the “source” and “destination” of our efforts. 

    I settled in Mtwara to assist the artisan community somehow believing that the Akina Mama were more of an anomaly, and that, given the chance to work and earn more income, the majority of artisans would gratefully jump at such an opportunity and ADEA would flourish.  The reality was that, though they desired economic advancement, they were much like the women.  They enjoyed the handouts of NGO’s (Non-Governmental Organizations), and the gifts from well meaning missionaries. New work patters were uncomfortable, unfamiliar, risky, and (for some) a nuisance. I ultimately understood that because of their isolation they lacked models of any other way of doing things, and this made change so unimaginable.

    This became strikingly clear to me how deep rooted their patters are during the first workshop ADEA offered to tailors. The workshop focus was using paper patterns in production – something which they had never done. The surface of most western sewing machines are marked with lines for the seam allowance, however the “Butterfly” peddle machines from China are not marked. So I adhered a piece of masking tape to the sewing machine surface, and marked the seam allowance lines.  During the class each tailor practice using these guides, and were amazed at the straight and consistent seams they were able to sew.  At the end of that class day I sent them home with the assignment to reproduce three of the small glasses case we studied in class.  The following Tuesday the tailors returned with the assigned glasses cases; each a different size than the other.  “What happened? Did you mark your machines as we did in class?” I asked.  It seems not a single one of them did, despite their class-felt awe.  “What did I do wrong?” I asked “If even one of you had done this as assigned the fault would have been yours, but as none of you did it I will take the blame, but I need to understand why you didn’t practice what you praised in class.”  Finally after several silent minutes, one woman shyly said, “We’ve just never done it that way before.” And so we repeated the class and emphasized the importance of the tape mark lines.  The next class I received 21 identical cases – each no bigger or smaller than the other.  It was then I realized what we were up against, and that we had made a giant step in breaking old patterns of resistance to change.

    This attitude of resistance resulted in the fact that during the first month of ADEA in Mtwara we had over 40 artisans pass our door; by the end of two month only 10 choose to stick around (that included the 7 Akina Mama who sewed across the street). It seemed that ADEA was too demanding and too different for the majority of artisans in Mtwara.

    Early on ADEA adopted the CREDO: “We would rather fail honestly, than to succeed dishonestly.” It was just four months after my arrival that this credo was put to the test.  The application process for my residence permit took several months. (It is possible that “secret giving” might have expedited this process, but our credo did not allow us to explore this option.)  Three weeks of that time I spent in Nairobi, Kenya at my cousin’s home where I discover the book: Africa, Dispatches from a fragile Continent by Blane Harden.  In this book I read an account of a Norwegian NGO’s effort to bring income to the herding Turkana tribes of Kenya through fishing, per the invitation of the Kenyan government. It ultimately resulted in a 22 million dollars failed project – much attributed to their failure to make inquiries of the records and locals.

    From their lesson, I was determined that we would ask more questions, and when I returned to Mtwara, we did.

    The conversations with the artisans began in August of 2003 and soon developed into a two hour Bi-Weekly meeting forums which ultimately unfolded into Skills Training Workshops, One-on-One training, and an expanding number of programs.

    Despite the fact that I equate Mtwara with South Dakota in terms of isolation, the number of interested buyers continues to increase monthly. Government tours make ADEA’s gift shop and workshops a part of their city tours. ADEA has received visits from the US, Finnish, and German ambassadors, various Tanzanian dignitaries and other NGO project representatives. All have been very impressed, and the artisans greatly encouraged.

    Though at the time it was a huge challenge, I am thankful for our initial years with minimal funding that gave us ample time to ask questions, listen to the artisans, learn their perspectives on the issues of development, and how to include them in the building of ADEA.

    One of the early challenges I discovered in Tanzanian development is something called a “sitting fee”. This is a sum of money paid out by event sponsors to the persons attending a seminar or workshop. This strategy has been used entice people to attend seminars – and as you might imagine in some cases it is highly abused. At the beginning, I felt that because we were providing training to help the artisans to advance – they were lucky enough that we were not going to charge them for our skills training workshops, but that we were certainly not going to pay them to attend.  At the end of our first series of workshops, in our pledge to ask, we inquired for feedback on the program. One response struck me particularly:

    “I want to be here every day” Omari said, “I know my future will be better for it, but at the end of the day my children must eat, so if someone offers me a job, I must take it.”

    As I pondered and prayed about this dilemma this analogy came to me.  Image a child who you send to school. When the child asks – “Why do I have to go to school?” You explain it’s important for their future. When they resist because they don’t have a bigger perspective– you still insist. But do you then require that they find after school work to pay for their studies? Or do you, instead, do all you can to assure they succeed until they are old enough to understand the advantage of education for themselves?  Since then we have paid “sitting fees”, though not without conditions related to homework and timely attendance.

    And this was a reminder to me that I am working with some of the world’s (financially) poorest people.  And  reinforced to me how vital ADEA’s efforts are.

[These comments were written in 2007 - to be expanded soon]

These observations do not necessarily represent the perspective of Douglas’ co-director Philipo Lulale


ADEA Historic Time Line

1999 Douglas’ first visit to Tanzania. Meets Philipo Lualae, his Tanzanian co-partner to be.

2000-01 Philipo & Douglas try to make long-distance production & delivery work.

2002 Douglas travels to Tanzania to end efforts to help. Instead, Philipo and Douglas realize full-time commitment required.


April Douglas moves to TZ and open ADEA office.

May The center for African Development through Economics and the Arts is legally registered in Tanzania as an NGO

November Bi-Weekly Meetings instigated


August First Skills Training Workshop offered

September ADEA expands & rents second unit of duplex

November ADEA opens office Gift shop


February 2nd Skills Training workshop (2 weeks)

June ADEA invited to participate in Canadian Embassy’s Annual Tanzhands market

July 3rd Skills Training workshop (4 weeks) with funds from MFUKO (the Tanzanian Cultural Fund)


February ADEA team serves as volunteers at the Busara music festival on Zanzibar per a grant from the Rockefeller Foundation in Nairobi

US and German Ambassador visits ADEA workshops

March 4th Skills Training  Workshop (4 weeks) funded by UPC World Markets & a Private Donor

Christmas Ornaments developed in seminar

June ADEA invited for second year at Tanzhands market

ADEA receives 501(c)(3) status in the United States

June ADEA receives funds from the German Ambassador to fit sewing rooms for the tailors

November ADEA participates in new MAKUANO market in Dar es Salaam and establishes relationship with two new hotels.


March 5th Skills Training  Workshop (3 weeks) funded by UPC World Markets

June & December - participated in Makutano Dar es Salaam weekend market.

Artisans leaders selected to represent artisans to ADEA leadership.

Begin acquisition of cultural items for Maasai schools.

Pillar of Maasai Development (PMD)  formed by ADEA partner (Tipape Loomu) & other Rombo, Kenya leaders.


June & November - participated in Makutano Dar es Salaam weekend market. (pass $7500 in sales)

Star Painter leaves to start his own shop.

August - MaKuYa Traditional Culture & Performing Arts Festival launched.

(funded by Swiss, Finish, & German Embassies & Artumas Africa Fnd.

Second Maasai school open in Esukuta - First grade Launched in Leong’o

Motorcycle donated for program director (Tipape)


6th Skills Training Workshop - the potential coconut shells - Exhibited in Dar es Salaam.

November - Makutano Christmas market Dar es Salaam

December - Arusha Christmas Market

May - MaKuYa in Dar Exhibition at the Alliance Francais

August - 2nd MaKuYa Festival  - Mtwara (420 performers - 2000+ visitors) - Funded by the Swiss, Finnish and German Embassies.

September - Douglas attend Indian Ocean Festival Directors Conference in South Africa.

February - Launched emergency food program for 140+ students due to drought conditions. Trained families on food nutritional values.

Maasai schools grow to six classes.


ADEA office duplex divided to  for independent artisans zone.

Legal paper filed for “The African Makonde Arts & Craft Cooperative Society Ltd.” for the ADEA artisans.

May - MaKuYa in Dar Exhibition “The Not so Ordinary Ordinary”, at the Alliance Francais

July - 3rd MaKuYa Festival - Masasi (480 performers - 3500+ visitors) - Funded by the Swiss, Finnish and German Embassies.

Launch Cultural Documentation Program - Interviewed over 150 elders.

Drought devastation for Kenyan Maasai (85% cattle dies in Rombo) making school fee payment impossible - bead work initiatives experimented with.


MaKuYa Rated No. 1 Cultural Event in Tanzania

MaKuYa Hosted by District Cultural Officer of Masasi, Mtwara. 


ADEA Boot Camp 2012

Cultural WorkMaKuYa.html
Maasai Dev.PMD.html