1. Recognising the energy and creativity of rural communities.
It can be easy for outsiders to see a better way of doing things, and then without realising, impose their own agenda. Every family we have ever worked with, has been striving tirelessly to secure a better life for their children. We are always amazed by how generously the community contributes to construction of girls' dormitories, despite low family incomes, and by how diverse and inclusive the village savings and loans groups are. Women and men, old and young, entrepreneurs and subsistence farmers - all with the same drive to improve their lives.
The members say they value the social cohesion the groups bring. To us, the groups are the ultimate expression of the vibrant energy and ambition in rural communities. That makes our role as an organisation very clear- to support the priorities of the communities.
Video (right): Let's all celebrate with joy sings the Jipe Moyo (Be Encouraged) Village Savings and Loans group.
2. Connecting rural communities to global learning.
Lyra acts as a catalyst. We carefully research best practice, identify expert partners and provide the investment and training to communities to take up relevant new technologies. Rural communities are isolated. Even simple but life-changing technologies like the haybox brooder are unheard of in many rural communities.
Lyra connects rural women and men to global learning on agriculture, livestock and business. We want students to have access to world-class educational materials, and learn how to explore the wealth of available knowledge for themselves.
3. Building local sustainability
For Lyra sustainability is common sense. It means helping families generate reliable income to meet basic needs and build a better future for their children.
Sustainability also means taking care of finite local resources. 90% of the total energy used in Tanzania comes from wood, which destroys Tanzania's forests, changes the micro-climate, and threatens to further impoverish rural communities.
Lyra looks for low-carbon solutions. In our next construction project we are exploring waste recycling (e.g. composting toilets), clean cook stoves and other innovations to improve the sustainability of the dormitory.