[Februari 29, 2016]
Mwanza is the second biggest city in Tanzania. Cities in Tanzania are expanding rapidly: the population of Mwanza, on the south shores of Lake Victorai, has doubled in the last 15 years. Mwanza is now inhabited by 600.000 people. The city is known by the name of 'Rock City'. The hills are covered with eroded rocks, you sometimes get the feeling giants have been building and playing with those rocks.
Marga van Barschot, Dutch, came to Mwanza in 1999, sent by a missionary organisation called SMA (Society for African Missions). Some catholic nuns were running a street childrens project and asked Marga to take over. She was already over 50 years old but built a whole new life in Tanzania.
Together with her husband Hoja, who grew up near Mwanza, she has been running the Upendo Daima street childrens project for 15 years now. I have invited myself, have visited Marga and her project for almost a week at the end of January. Marga has welcomed me in her house and after only a couple of days this felt as a home to me. The aim of my visit: to get to know the Upendo Daima organisation and to write my story about it.
The work of Upendo Daima can be devided in two specific parts that both have their own location: the 'Back Home House' where street children (Upendo Daima only works with boys) have a temporary shelter. In this Back Home House the focus is on trying to reunite the children with their families. The other location is the socalled 'Malimbe Family House'. Children for whom it appears not to be possible to bring them back to their families can build on their future in Malimbe Family House. Upendo Daima works with 22 local employees. These dedicated people cover a variety of tasks assisting the children. Some focus on individual counseling to prepare chidren for reunion with their families, some are working on the streets in Mwanza to get to know the street children, some others take care of the gardens, the caring for the children, the preparation of food, etc. etc.
The process starts with the street workers. Twice per week the street workers go on the streets in Mwanza, where they find lots of street children. Most of these children come from villages far away from the city. They all have their own reasons for having run away from home. In most cases they have just been sent away, they are being neglected and mistreated. Very often they have become traumatised and they use primitive drugs, like sniffing gasoline or glue.
Of course they are not going to school at all. They just wander around, begging and stealing. In many cases they are not eager to come along with the street workers. They feel "free", so to say.
The street workers try to make contact and they try to convince them to change their lives, also by coming with them to Upendo Daima's Back Home House in the suburb of Mwanza.
When children come to the Back Home House, the phase of counseling starts. The children enter therapeutic sessions in which they get attention in a very creative way, especially by drawing and visualisations. In this way the counsellors try to find out about the backgrounds and trauma's of the children. The Upendo Daima (which means 'endless love' in Swahili) organisation tries to find the families of the children and arrange sessions in which they find out if there's possibilities to focus on reunion.
In January 2016 about 30 children were staying in the Back Home house. Children can stay in the Back Home House for 3 months. That is the maximum amount of time.
When I arrived in the Back Home House the children were just on their long weekly walk upon the hills surrounding Mwanza. One hour later the groups came through the entrance gate, singing and shouting. They all shook hands with me, greeting me with 'shikamoo', and then they all took a bucketshower on the muddy playing field. After that they all sat at the long table eating their 'ugali' (maize porridge). The boys are all between 7 and 12 years old.
Malimbe Family House
To bring the children back together with their families is the primary target. But in lots of cases this is an unattainable goal. In those cases Upendo Daima arranges shelter for the children in the Malimbe Family House. This is not really a 'house'. It's a spacious terrain with community buildings, a semi-covered space in which the children have their meals, kitchens, offices, class rooms, a library and different buildings in which the children sleep in bunk beds. In January 2016 there were 45 children (maximum capacity is 55). There is also a soccer field, some playground equipment and a big garden with maize, banana trees, cabbage, beans and spinach.
Chicken walk around the buildings.
The Malimbe Family House is located about 10 miles south of Mwanza and Marga and Hoja's house, where I have a small appartment for mysef, is just next to Malimbe Family House.
The children live in safe surrounding buth without luxury. Of course in the end they still have to fit in their own social environment. They attend the local primary school and are offered some extra tuition from the Upendo Daima education officers. It's important the children get possibilities to learn to speak and read English and learn how to work with computers.
One afternoon I make a lang walk with 8 of the Malimbe Family House children. We climb upon the remarkable rockeries and they also show me their school.
Throughout the week I have long talks with Marga. She feels at home in Tanzania. She puts out to me her work is very rewarding, but she keeps everything just within perspective: 'I know I can't change the world, but it feels good to know that some children get a better future'.
Sponsoring from Holland offers opportunities to give the children better education.
Volunteers from Europe and America are welcome. Marga says she's very carefull with volunteering assitance: unskilled volunteers are a risk for the organisation. Language and working circumstances can be problematic. When you don't have any experience and specific affinity with development countries, a volunteer possibly can do more harm than good.
Marga and Hoja have splendid lodging facilities just next to their house and get volunteers, mainly form Holland, every now and then.
The volunteering activities are customized. In close consulation with Marga the volunteer tasks can be arranged, especially according to the specific expertise and experience of each volunteer.
During my stay at Malimbe Family House, almost a week, a have seen with my own eyes the splendid and rewarding work that Upendo Daima is doing. This is a beautiful small scale project, showing continuity, dedication and commitment.
Niko Winkel, February 4, 2016
[January 23, 2016]
The last two weeks I’ve been living in Haria Hotel, on Mawenzi Road in the centre of Moshi town. When I look up from the roof top terrace, I get a glance of the Kilimanjaro summit, covered with snow. A spectacular view. Haria Hotel, run by the Team Vista NGO, is my basis during my stay in Moshi, for the purpose of finding out how the volunteering ‘business’ runs over here. Every evening this terrace is crowded by lots of young volunteers from Europe and America. Haria itself spends all its profits on improving the lives of those less fortunate and their environment.
The company’s currect project seeks to transform the lives of children and the broader community in a suburb within Moshi, Tanzania. The suburb is called Kaloleni and it is a very poor area on the fringe of Moshi town centre, and built around the town dump.
Kaloleni Nursery school was purchased in March 2010 by Team Vista, an NGO originally started by Australians. It was renamed the ‘Kilimanjaro Kids with Future Education Centre’. This small school had approximately 200 students crammed into a room of 15m2. Resources were completely insufficient and students were re-writing over pages of scrappy books. Team Vista built a second classroom, garden, added a water tank, power and had the sewerage line connected and built two new toilets. This building will now be used by the community for projects and as meeting rooms.
Team Vista Nursery School
Team Vista has now relocated the school to a cleaner area of Kaloleni with one classroom and four teachers. Because of volunteers and donors Team Vista has the funds to feed all students a mixture of beans and rice for lunch everyday; for some this is the only food they receive on a daily basis. To date, Team Vista has sponsored 312 children from the Kaloleni community, helping them to attend nursery, primary and secondary school. Team Vista now has 4 secondary students continuing with tyertiary studies!
Also 5 boys are sponsored who were found abandoned in the community. They now attend boarding school. The new school compound also contains ‘Team Vista Home’. One of the teachers, Zahoro, lives there and looks after the boys when they come home for holidays.
Adult Entrepreneurship Class
Team Vista has started adult education classes in business studies. This is a 4 month business course teaching adults how to write a business plan and basic accountancy. They are then offered a small interest free loan to help establish their business. Team Vista are also starting an earth brickmaking operation – a small business to help employ youth form the streets of Kaloleni.
Recently Team Vista purchased 2 acres of land for the community to begin their own small vegetable gardens. The future idea is to build a workshop on the land for training in plumbing, carpentry and brickmaking. Team Vista also works together with both the local council, Kaloleni Primary and Secondary school, helping to provide additional support and infrastructure.
Upendo Women’s Group
In September 2010 Team Vista started a Women’s Group. The group assists nine women in the Kaloleni community, some of whom are mothers of children from the schools. These women used to scavenge through the rubbish dump daily, trying to find things to sell to support their families. Team Vista has purchased sewing machines for the group and built them a shelter to protect them from the harsh weather of Moshi.
Just last year Team Vista took a 3 year lease on Haria Hotel, the place that is beginning to feel like home for me. It’s a cheap and cheery backpackers in the heart of Moshi. They have given it a spring clean with new linen, mattresses and ceiling fans. It has a wonderful roof top bar and restaurant with the views to Mount Kilimanjaro. All of the profits from Haria Hotel go to Team Vista’s projects in Kaloleni.
Team Vista is always looking for volunteers and sponsors for the projects, although there were no volunteers working in Kaloleni during my stay. Ally, the Haria Hotel manager showed me around all the projects. He himself, the staff at Haria’s and also the teachers in Kaloleni are very dedicated tot the Team Vista goals. The Australian owners of this NGO spend a couple of months every year in Moshi, but live in Australia. To find out more about Haria Hotel and the Team Vista projects, take a look at the websites.
[November 20, 2014]
'Home Based Care Program', that is the philosophy of The Olive Branch for Children. Our program provides at-home medical services, support and counselling for over 600 individuals living with HIV in 13 diffe rent rural Tanzania villiages. The clients of our Home Based Care Program receive additional nutritional support through food and seed distributions. With the help of our Home Based Care Team, our clients receive at-home health education and on-going assistance in understanding how to use and be adherent to their medicine regimens.
The Olive Brach for Children was founded in 2006 by the Canadian Deborah McCracken. McCracken primarily desires to strengthen communities located in deserted places. People with HIV are taught about food and health, and food supplements are provided. Projects that should generate income are set up in cooperation with anf for the healthy people, gardens are designed, a goat herd is herded and a cassava farm is founded.
The Olive Branch for Children offers potential volunteers the possibility to put their efforts into the Home Based Care Program and the Montessori Outreach Program: teaching people in deserted places about the Montessori-method to, subsequently, set up kindergartens. These villages are often located 80 kilometers off an asphalted road and 20 kilometers away from the closest primary school.
The Olive Branch is not located in the touristic area of Tanzania, but in the South-West, nearby Zambia and Malawi. It is a very rural and deserted place, with a lot of wildlife. These are truly projects for the volunteer who is on a mission!
[October 15, 2014]
K21 Adventure, founded by two adventurous mountaineers, offers a combination of 1, 4 or 7 days of safari and 8, 5, or 2 days community service. The community service will be done at a blind school in Moshi (Kilimanjaro). They advertise themselves with words such as: "In addition to seeing the world, K2 Adventure Travel is your connection to doing a world of good".
This week will cost you €3000 when you choose the option of a one-day safari and 8 days as a volunteer. Do you prefer a safari of 7 days, it will be around €5000.
The organization's leader has even climbed the Mount Everest, and his wife climbed the Kilimanjaro with a group of blind people. Adventure!! (Website K2 Adventures)
[September 22, 2014]
"Hostel Hoff is a small organisation run by an Australian woman and her Tanzanian husband. We focus on independent volunteering within and on the outskirts of Moshi town, Tanzania. Hostel Hoff started very small, back in 2006 with the hope of helping volunteers side step international profit orientated “organisations". It is our belief that you should not have to pay to volunteer, therefore prices cover your accommodation and the volunteering experience is free.
In truth, we never hoped to achieve as much as we have. Our view seems to be shared with many of you out there and this has allowed us to give real, substantial and continuous help to a number of projects that we are privileged to support." (Website Hostel Hoff)
[August 19, 2014]
"The advantage of a small foundation is that policies immediately connect to implementation of these policies. Local experiences are taken into account when executing new plans. And because of a well-maintained relationship with our local entrepreneurs/partners, we are aware of the wellbeing of the program and the people, however often from a distance."
This is what Jeroen Vegt, treasurer of the foundation Sengerema (which has microfinance projects in Sengerama, south of Lake Victoria), describes.
Developing like it is supposed to be. And you can go there as a volunteer! Check out www.sengerema.nl.
[August 14, 2014]
Travel guides told me that the Usambara Mountains (in the far north-east of Tanzania) have become quite touristic. This is very relative, though. Unless you find seeing three other 'mzungu's' (white people) at a market too much.
The village Mambo is located two hours away from that market. What you stumble upon there, is beyond imagination!
A beautiful lodge on the edge of a mountain, with a view over the valley, 1300 meters below. And that is only what you see, since what you experience with MamboViewpoint goes beyond that: it is a great social project of two Dutch people, with room for volunteers as well.