Navigate / search

Our History

 

AHEAD- The Early Years (Brief Timeline)

1974: After treating a Tanzanian child at Boston Children’s Hospital, Dr. Irving Williams looks into working in an African country and gets a job at Bugando Hospital in Mwanza, Tanzania, where he moves with his wife, Elvira, and four children, for two years.

1981: The Williamses establish AHEAD.

1985: AHEAD sets up its first operation in the Shinyanga Rural District.

1988: The second team of AHEAD volunteers spends a month in Tanzania treating adults and children. AHEAD installs a solar-run electric system to provide light for nighttime childbirth, and a solar-run refrigerator.

1990s-2000s

1993: AHEAD extends to the Meatu District in Tanzania, and accepts an invitation from The Gambia to create development programs for the nation’s youth.

2000: UNICEF recognizes AHEAD for increasing childhood immunizations, prenatal services and access to family planning in Shinyanga Region.

2002: Meatu District rises from last to first place when it comes to the overall health of Tanzanian children.

2003: AHEAD wins the Ashden Award for sustainability. AHEAD moves to the Kisarawe District and its emphasis shifts to education.

2005: Dr. Irving Williams wins the Cardinal Heath Children’s Care Award from the World of Children. AHEAD constructs the first of two dormitories for girls going to secondary school in villages.

2010s- Present Day

2010: AHEAD raises money for obstetric transport systems in Tanzania.

2011: In its Gambian villages, AHEAD introduces “rocket stoves” and heat-retention ovens.

2012: AHEAD finishes a second girls’ hostel at Janguo Secondary School for 48 girls.

2013: AHEAD helps women in five Gambia villages launch a soap making enterprise.

2017: Bukara Secondary School in Maruku, Tanzania works with AHEAD and implements electrification and girl’s latrines projects.

ahead_inc_small

 

 

 

 

 

 

AHEAD was founded in 1981 by Dr. Irving C. Williams, a pediatrician and public health specialist, and his wife Elvira Felton Williams, an educator, to provide hands-on, people-to-people assistance to underserved communities. The goals of the organization are to:

(1) reduce and eliminate disease and premature death;
(2) cultivate and advance healthy living; and,
(3) foster sustainable environmental activities.

 

AHEAD has been at the forefront of developing and implementing programs to eliminate poverty, eradicate diseases, and improve the quality of life for individuals living in developing countries since 1981. Since its inception, AHEAD has relied on the generosity of individuals and volunteers to decrease high infant and child mortality rates; immunize millions of children; reduce the incidence of malnutrition; provide pre-natal care for women; implement programs for HIV/AIDS treatment and prevention; award scholarships to girls and orphans; and, supply safe water devices to tens of thousands of individuals living in total desperation.

AHEAD has been successful in developing sustainable programs in Tanzania during the past 26 years. For the first seventeen years, AHEAD’s office was in the Shinyanga Region where AHEAD implemented successful programs in Primary Health Care, HIV/AIDS, education, youth development and Environmental Health. These programs have made a difference in the quality of life for mothers, infants and youth in Shinyanga Rural and Meatu Districts. From 2002-2015 AHEAD provided programs in health and education in Kisarawe District, Coast Region. Beginning in 2016, AHEAD is working in and around Bukoba, Kagera Region.

 

Keys To Success

All AHEAD programs and projects are implemented at the village (community) level and involve the beneficiaries in all aspects of planning, implementation, monitoring, and evaluation in order to assure sustainable impact. AHEAD also conducts training workshops for Village Health Workers (VHW), Primary Health Committees (PHC), and other health providers. AHEAD’s Teen Action Project (TAP) provides a much needed health education program, including HIV/AIDS prevention, for pre-adolescents and adolescents. In 2006 AHEAD partnered with Family Health International (FHI), to provide Information, Education and Communication (IEC) and training on HIV/AIDS prevention for youth in rural villages in Iringa, Morogoro and Dar es Salaam.

Childhood immunization rates have climbed to 98 percent in Tanzanian villages hosting AHEAD projects; Tanzanian girls can now opt for education instead of early marriage and more than 450 young people have completed vocational training in electronics, horticulture, carpentry, and computer science.

Those accomplishments demonstrate the success and tenacity of efforts that began more than 40 years ago when Dr. Irving Williams treated a Tanzanian child at Boston Children’s Hospital. That encounter launched events that have improved more than one million lives.

AHEAD- The Early Years (More Detailed Timeline)

1974: After treating a Tanzanian child at Boston Children’s Hospital, Dr. Irving Williams looks into working in an African country and gets a job at Bugando Hospital in Mwanza, Tanzania, where he moves with his wife, Elvira, and four children. They are stunned by the health challenges they encounter. Often a parent would bring a child to the hospital, only to have the child die on the examination table. After two years, the couple return to the United States, determined to use their talents and resources to improve conditions they saw in Tanzania.

1981: The Williams establish AHEAD – Adventures in Health, Education and Agricultural Development – in the United States. Dr. Irving Williams serves as medical director and Elvira Williams becomes the executive director. The organization’s approach grows from a conclusion Dr. Williams reached during his first stint in Tanzania: good health requires good nutrition; good nutrition requires good agriculture; and education is the change agent for sustainability.

1985: At the invitation of the Tanzanian Ministry of Health, AHEAD sets up its first operation in 12 villages in the Shinyanga Rural District south of Lake Victoria. The workdays were long: from 8 a.m. until flashlights and lanterns could no longer illuminate the clinic. The Williams saw that a mother’s health determined the child’s health, so they expanded the program to include prenatal services and family planning.

1988: The second team of AHEAD volunteers spends a month in Tanzania treating adults and children. For six days a week, the group rides and walks to villages, treating a range of conditions: malnutrition to malaria to polio. AHEAD installs a solar-run electric system to provide light for nighttime childbirth and a solar-run refrigerator to store vaccines and other medication.

1990s-2000s

1993: AHEAD extends its program about 110 miles to the Meatu District, where there is a critical need for its services. Most villages lack a health facility, so clinics are held in schools, under trees or at the office of the village chief. Although the surroundings are undeveloped, AHEAD makes significant strides:

  • For children under 5, immunization rates bounce from 27% to 98%
  • Antenatal care increases from 4% to 70%
  • The malnutrition rate decreases from 20% to less than 2%
  • Photovoltaic systems are installed at health centers and at one of the poorest hospitals in the entire region
  • Five dispensaries are constructed in Meatu District

1993: AHEAD accepted an invitation from The Gambia to create development programs for the nation’s youth.

2000: UNICEF recognizes AHEAD for increasing childhood immunizations, prenatal services and access to family planning in Shinyanga Region.

2002: Because of AHEAD and its efforts, Meatu District rises from last to first place when it comes to the overall health of Tanzanian children.

2003: AHEAD wins the Ashden Award, the world’s only award for renewable energy, for teaching villagers to pasteurize and purify water with solar cookers made from cardboard. Dr. Irving Williams receives the award in a London ceremony from HRH Princess Anne.

2003: AHEAD moves across Tanzania to the Kisarawe District near the Indian Ocean. The organization’s emphasis shifts to education because many children have no more than a third-grade education. Girls, especially, are pushed into early marriages so their families can receive the bride price. AHEAD provides scholarships for girls to attend school. The organization also establishes a vocational school for all youth in the district.

2005: Dr. Irving Williams wins the Cardinal Heath Children’s Care Award
from the World of Children for his exceptional work helping over 1.5 million children in the United States, Tanzania and The Gambia. This award was established to recognize individuals who have made a significant lifetime contribution to the health and well-being of children.

2005: AHEAD constructs the first of two dormitories for girls going to secondary school in villages. The buildings provide a secure environment for young women who risked sexual exploitation while trying to complete their education.

2010s- Present Day

2010: AHEAD raises money for obstetric transport systems in Tanzania. The organization’s fundraising effort is joined by North Bethesda United Methodist Church in Bethesda, Md.

2011: In its Gambian villages, AHEAD introduces “rocket stoves” and heat-retention ovens. These cooking devices cook faster and use less wood than traditional methods, so they save resources and reduce air pollution. In order to promote self-reliance, AHEAD sells the stoves and teaches women to make the heat-retention ovens.

2012: AHEAD finishes a second girls’ hostel at Janguo Secondary School. Forty-eight girls have a safe place to study and live.

2013: AHEAD helps women in five Gambia villages launch a soap making enterprise. Although most of the soap makers sell their products to other villagers, two villages supply markets and small shops.

2017: Bukara Secondary School in Maruku, Tanzania works with AHEAD and implements electrification and girl’s latrines projects.

Helping to alleviate the suffering in Africa will greatly improve the health and economic vitality of citizens in Africa as well as citizens globally. It will help to spark a wave of progress and development that will help make the countries of Africa productive members of the global system.