Anne Wells Raises Funds And Hopes For Tanzania

The route from poverty and neglect in Africa, to sufficiency and success, runs from Rhode Island and Ohio, through Westport.

At least, Anne Wells’ part of that path does.

From over 7,000 miles away — though she gets there a couple of times a year — the Westport resident uplifts the lives of Tanzanian women and children, helps create jobs for tribal women and artisans, and leads service safaris. She even organizes group climbs of Kilimanjaro.

It’s a far cry from Providence, where Anne grew up. Or Kenyon College, where she studied anthropology.

But Africa always fascinated her. A semester in the bush with the Masai sold her on the love and joy of the continent — filled with “the best people on earth.”

Anne Wells, with a Tanzanian friend.

Anne Wells, with a Tanzanian friend.

It also opened her eyes to the vast inequalities of wealth across the globe.

Anne earned a graduate degree from the University of California School of Journalism, and joined Time Warner as a writer/editor. She was transferred to New York, where she met her husband. They moved to St. Louis, and had 3 daughters.

Anne’s corporate communications career prospered. She wrote books about parenting. It was not the type of life she’d envisioned for herself.

Yet the pull of Africa remained strong. In 2007 — around the time she and her husband moved to Darien — she traveled to Tanzania. A priest said his people needed a light shone on their plight.

“I was desperate to serve the people,” she says. “But I didn’t know how. I’m not Angelina Jolie.”

Anne found a way.

Or rather, several ways.

She started and now directs the Unite the World with Africa Foundation. The organization promotes peace and prosperity through health, education and micro-finance programs.

Anne's programs bring hope to Tanzanians.

Anne’s programs bring hope to Tanzanians.

To help create jobs for tribal women and artisans across East Africa — and raise funds for the foundation — she created the Ashé Collection International Marketplace. It buys and sells Maasai jewelry, hand-crafted Indian Dhow sail bags, hand-beaded belts and sandals, home goods and more. “Their creations are phenomenal,” Anne says.

Next Tuesday (April 12, 9 a.m.-5 p.m.), Goldenberry in New Canaan hosts a trunk show of Ashé collection pieces.  It’s a fundraiser for the foundation.

“How we spend our money as consumers matters,” Anne says. “If we spend thoughtfully, we can change the world.”

Some of the collection on sale at Goldenberry on April 12.

Some of the collection on sale at Goldenberry on April 12.

Billions of dollars have been poured into Africa. But, Anne notes, per capita income there is less today than in the 1970s. “It’s a tough place to do business,” she admits.

She and her foundation are not giving up. They’ve built the Heaven School, and work with an orphanage affiliated with it.

Over Christmas, Anne, her husband and oldest daughter will head to Kilimanjaro. It’s the highest mountain in Africa.

Of course, Anne Wells is no stranger to the continent’s beauty.

Or its challenges.

4 responses to “Anne Wells Raises Funds And Hopes For Tanzania

  1. Beth Orlan Berkowitz

    We need to connect Anne with another local resident of Weston, who just returned from 3-4 months in Tanzania. Her name is Martha Deegan. Martha helps run an orphanage and a school in Tanzania. The school is co-Ed, but the orphanage houses 30 boys and there is a huge amount of orphans awaiting acceptance. They have room for 20 additional boys, but not enough funds for the additional boys. They are still in need of funds to improve the sustainability of the orphanage as they farm their own food and are awaiting refrigeration to arrive that has been purchased. They have solar power to power their property and do all their farming by manual labor right now. You should ask Martha more about it and she has amazing photos of everything and was just at kilimanjaro also.

  2. Dana McCreesh

    Thank you for this piece. Fantastic to read about.

  3. Caryn Friedman

    Anne Wells will be speaking at the Norwalk Public Library on Wednesday, April 13 at 7:00 p.m. Her presentation is, “Doing it Differently,” using music, creativity and innovation to raise a new generation of thought leaders in Africa.

  4. Anne is truly amazing — and inspiring! Anne has also gotten a group of Westport children (through a group called AWARE Kids), involved in her mission. The Westport kids are pen pals with the children at the Heaven School in Tanzania — helping children in both places learn about and connect with others across the globe!