Fighting for Education Rights

STORY ABOUT A TEACHER BECOMING A FIGHTER FOR EDUCATION

This article is based on an interview I did with another intern, Jesper Andersen, for a documentary, we produced about the school attendance of children under 13 years old *. There are many parts of the story the headteacher of the Tumaini nursery school told us that we didn’t use for our documentary. I was really touched by his story; and found that it’s worth being told. Here is the story of Gabriel Costantino Chaugali, headteacher of the Tumaini nursery school in Madale, Tanzania.

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The land the school was constructed on hasn’t always been Mr. Chaugali’s. In the beginning, this land was used to hold goats. There is a big tree in the corner of the land; Mr. Chaugali’s thought it would be a great place to start something. He went to the owner and asked if he could have the land to teach children under that tree. He began like this; teaching only one student under the tree; her name was Agnes. This was ten years ago, in 2009.

At first, he didn’t want to become a teacher. He just wanted to help kids. “But I believe in God, and each night, someone told me that I really needed to do it for the kids. My family was living on Zanzibar, but something told me that I needed to go back to the mainland and help those children by teaching them; helping the ones who can’t afford school fees.”

Nowadays, the school is attended by 50 children. Depending on the year, the number of students studying for free changes. Some years, it’s 5 kids; some years, it’s half of all the kids.

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“Education is like your eyes. You can’t do anything without your eyes. It’s the same for education; you can’t do anything without it.”

The purpose of Mr. Chaugali’s journey is to help the community. To help the kids to learn and have a good life afterward. He believes that there is no economically developed country without a good education foundation. “People need to know things about their country and about the world to develop their mind and be interested in what’s going on in the world. You can’t have professionals without education, so you can’t have industries. The nation’s kids must be educated to help the country grow when they will be older. Otherwise, the poverty cycle will continue to turn.”

That’s why he is trying as much as he can to accommodate parents. They are only asked to pay for their children’s school uniforms and exercise books. The uniform is about 10$, and the 12 exercises books for the year are about 4$ in total. Some of the children don’t even have a uniform, but of course, they can still attend the school.

The school fees from the children who have parents paying are sometimes not enough to cover the operation costs, such as the food for breakfast and the assistant teacher’s salary. Mr. Chaugali is having extra jobs to cover these costs: he’s also teaching privately, children from families with a higher income in his free time. This allows him to continue to pay his assistant so that the school doesn’t have to close when there is not enough money for one month.

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“The society, which doesn’t want children to get an education, isn’t educated. An educated person would never let this happen.”

The issue that the teacher found is that parents aren’t educated about the importance of school. Most of the time, they didn’t get the chance to go to school themselves. “When parents know they don’t have enough money to pay for school, they sometimes feel bad to put their kids in school for free. They feel like their kids are their responsibility, so they should be able to pay everything; otherwise, they stay home with them.  Sometimes, children are not coming because they have to take care of their siblings. They arrive late or leave early and sometimes miss several days of school.”

“Education is important, money issues aren’t.”

Mr. Chaugali is working a lot to undo this belief. To help the parents take school seriously and to make sure that they are preparing their kids for school every morning, he is doing a walk around the village to pick up the children. This way, parents don’t have a choice to prepare their kids, because they know that the teacher will be at their place soon. He is also bringing them back home after school.

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The teacher explained to me that a couple of years ago, he always saw two kids running around while he was walking to school. One day, he went to the mother and ask her why her kids weren’t in school yet. She told him that she was poor; the father didn’t communicate with her anymore, so she was by herself. Her only income was the local alcohol she was selling. The teacher took the contact of the dad and he called him himself. The father said that he would pay for kid’s school fees. He only paid for one month. Mr. Chaugali took them under his wing. They stayed at the Tumaini nursery school for about three years. They are now in standard four.

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Even after the students quit school and enter primary school, he continues to check on them. He visits their home, and he makes sure that they are doing their homework and that they are doing fine.

If you had one thing to say to your community, what would it be?

I would like to advise the community, or the people with more money, to help the poorest ones. Education is crucial, the poor kids need education as much as the rich ones. I implore two things. First of all, I ask for financial support from the one with more money, to help their neighbor’s kids to attend school. Second of all, I ask help from the community to educate the adults. The parents need to be educated about the importance of school for their children, in order to break the poverty cycle and to help the community, and the country, to grow. Education can break this cycle.

 

* The documentary referred is available on Art in Tanzania’s Facebook page.

Meet Tassia

Meet Tassia de Cock, a 25 years old Belgian girl who moved to Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, after a three-month internship with Art in Tanzania.

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From the beginning, Tassia liked Tanzania and felt at home. She felt less stressed than in her home place. “I found people nice and liked the fact that there’s a lot of energy going on all the time.”

During her internship, she met John; a Tanzanian guy who soon became her boyfriend. When it came time to leave, Tassia had a choice to make. “It took me five minutes to decide: I’ll just move here. I was done with school, I didn’t really have anything waiting for me back in Belgium.” As she explained to me, John is not her main reason for her moving Even when she was a little girl, she knew she did not want to live in Belgium or the western world. “I wouldn’t say that it’s completely because of John that I’m here, the main reason is that I feel more comfortable living here. I get stressed really fast, and in the western world, there is a really big pressure on you to perform.”

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As she explained, a place without stress doesn’t exist. Tanzania is not exempt from stressful situations. Tassia faces many cultural differences in Tanzania that can be difficult to deal with, including commonplace bribery, and the relaxed approach people take with their work. Despite the difficulties in overcoming this culture shock, Tassia still feels far less pressure she believes she would in Western society.

Which parts of the culture are the most difficult for you to deal with?

“I wouldn’t say that people are liars, but they say a lot of things to please you.” They will say what you want to hear, even knowing they can’t do it; promises don’t have the same meaning as in the occidental world. Because people don’t have schedules, you always must remind them of the things you planned with them. “When you’re on holiday, it’s fine because you take it slowly. But when you are living somewhere, sometimes you need things to be done. It’s easily frustrating for a western person. Everything takes time.” It’s the same for appointments; in Belgium, it is rude to be late to an appointment, yet here, people will never be upset if you are not there on time. Their perspective is that a lot of things can make you late, so it’s reasonable for you to be three hours late; at least, you are there now.

The good part is that people here don’t push others to do anything, so you can do your things at the speed you want, and everything is fine.

Social rules are also very different. You have to prove yourself a lot, that you can be part of this culture and this community. Because you will always be a mzungu (white person), so locals expect you to act differently.

Do you feel safe in Madale, Dar es Salaam?

Madale is a small village, everyone knows everyone. People look out for each other, and that makes me feel safe; the community is taking care of you.

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“There are parts of the city where I wouldn’t go at night as a “mzungu” and particularly as a “mzungu girl”, of course, but Madale is safe.”

Criminal justice here is in the hands of the village. If you are a good person, you will be protected. For example, if someone breaks into someone else’s house, people will help take care of it. When the community knows that the person you are calling a burglar has a history of bad behavior, they will not hesitate to stone them. “But as a tourist, you will never experience that.”

How do you adapt to yourself here? What difficulties did you encounter?

In the beginning, it was easy because you know when you are traveling in a third world country, you expect things to be adventurous and different than what you are used to at home. A bucket shower is primitive but funny; you know you are going to go back home. After a couple of months, things are getting heavier because you know you are not going back home; this is your home. This is your new normal. Here you poop differently, you shower differently, you eat differently, you sweat differently, you drive on the other side of the road; everything is different. After a while, it kind of hits you how different things are and how different they will stay.

It took Tassia a month to adapt and become 100% comfortable living here. At the beginning, we want to prove ourselves; we want to prove that we are able to live like everybody else here. “You try to distance yourself from the «mzungu» characteristics, but after a while, you have to find a reasonable and healthy balance between your original culture and your new one so that you are comfortable with how you live.

There is a lot of little communities of persons from the same place or speaking the same language in every country. It’s easy to judge them and ask them to mix themselves with locals. “I think that I just never took the time to understand what they were living. It’s not because they love their culture more than ours, it’s because they need people to connect with and have support because they are facing the same issues. If I was still living in Belgium, I wouldn’t be able to understand their situation, because I wouldn’t have experienced that.” As Tassia said, you have to be out of your comfort zone to understand the power of community and the power of people understanding your issues and needs.

What about the cost of living?

Because I’m mzungu, I make more money than local people; for the same job. I hate it. I don’t agree with it. But I can’t say no to the job because there is no other job. For a mzungu, it’s really really hard to find work. Visas are a complicated thing here. The fact that I’m more paid just increases the image of mzungu needing and having a lot of money. I think that they need to give equal opportunities to Tanzanians. That’s why I want to start my own company, and I would never pay a Tanzanian less than a mzungu. A mzungu has the opportunity to move somewhere else if he wants to earn more money; Tanzanians don’t have that option.

There are a lot of people who are working for free and have been for two or three years because there are not nearly enough jobs for everybody. Companies take advantage of people’s limited options and will often pay them less than they deserve. They know that if people just have a small amount of money, they will stay. But a mzungu will not accept to be paid only 100 $US/ month. Companies know this and so they pay them 10 times the rate they pay locals to get them to stay. It’s such a common practice that even UNICEF are guilty of it. They pay their mzungu employees between 300$ and 800$ US/month, to live in Tanzania. You don’t need that amount of money to live here. My rent is 180 000 shilling (~80$) per month for a three rooms apartment.

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Be confident and know what you want, don’t be afraid to ask people. Most people yell at you because they want to help you and they want to touch you because you seem exotic to them. This can make people feel that they are in danger, but it’s the opposite. I understand that people are just curious. Understanding Swahili helps you to understand that things that seem scary at first glance are not at all.  I have never felt like I was in danger. I don’t get scared easily in life, I give people the benefit of the doubt so for now everything is fine.

You learn to truly appreciate the things you have. I’m just happy to live a simple life with few luxuries, and I really appreciate the small luxuries I do have. I don’t have a lot of stuff, which has reduced my stress level. When you feel hungry, you have to deal with what you have in your fridge because there is no supermarket around. It forces you to look at your priorities from another point of view, and that’s nice.

 

Florence Dupuis

Religions in Tanzania

RELIGION IN TANZANIA

The cohabitation of religions in Tanzania is a fascinating aspect of Tanzania’s culture. The country has many religions and over 50 different tribes.

 

 

 

 

 

Although Christianity is the main religion, followed by Islam, there are followers of many other religions inside Tanzania. Including Buddhism, Hinduism, and African traditional.

In the 14th century, the location of Tanzania on the coast of East Africa was strategic for Arab traders and slave traders. During the 15th century, German Christian missionaries were sent to Tanzania to expand Germany. Upon arrival the Christians were chased away by local Muslims; Christianity came back in the 19th century, and the relation between the two was hostile. Arabic arrived in Tanzania mainly for business in the slavery industry, to which Christians opposed themselves. Later, the slave trade was abolished. From this, the relationship between the two religions groups improved and has not been hostile since then. (1)

This relationship on Tanzania’s mainland is peaceful and civil. However, nowadays Zanzibar Island is composed of 99% of Muslims people (1). When Christian locals are traveling to Zanzibar and are not dressed according to Muslim beliefs, with skin on show, Muslim people speak negatively towards them; not aggressively or violently, but in a way that can make mainland locals feel uncomfortable.

“The government of Tanzania and the semiautonomous government of Zanzibar both recognize religious freedom as a principle and make efforts to protect it.” (3)

Tanzanian society has been shaped by the presence of its different religions. Islam and the Swahili language have been introduced by Arab Muslims. The Indigenous Spirituality people helped in keeping the Tanzanian traditions alive. Christian missionaries provided education and health care to the population, which helped develop the nation as a whole. Every religion is celebrated equally: “religious holidays such as Christmas, Easter, Eid-el-Fitr, and Prophet Mohammed’s birthday are all given equal emphasis.” (1)

For people living on Tanzania’s mainland, religions are not a big deal. People are believing in the God they want, and everyone is accepting it. Mosques are making a lot of noise, but so do gospel churches. People are respectful of other people’s beliefs: they see each other as human beings and don’t emphasize other religious belonging.

I talked with Ruth Mgalula and Hadija Mohammed, respectively Christian and Muslim. These are some of the stories they told me to help me understand the cohabitation of religions in Tanzania.

Ruth’s quote:

When people are about to fight about religion issues, one of the two clans always stop it; people know it is going to end badly otherwise, and it’s not worth it
“People respect other people’s religion, but when it comes to marriage, sometimes, it’s more difficult. “I remember my friend was Christian, and she wanted to marry a Muslim guy. They didn’t say it to their parents, because they knew they would have a bad reaction. They got married to a government marriage. Soon after the parents find out, both sides were shocked and mad. A lot of fighting appeared, and they had to divorce.” Obviously, it’s not like this in all families. When you introduce your partner to your family, it’s in the first and basics questions, to ask: what is your name? Where are you from? What religion are you from?

The common thing to do when the two aren’t from the same religion is for one to change religion for the other one. The thing is, when you change religion, you change a lot in your beliefs. People will notice that you change, and they may talk to you about it, but no more. People are letting others be.

Hadija’s quote

“All my family is Muslim; we believe in God, and my mom prays five times a day, as well as my sister.” Her other sister changed when she met this Christian man. Everyone was fine with it, except Hadija’s grand-dad. He was really against it. He felt like he was losing one of his grand-kids. When you change religion, it is viewed as if you wanted to reach a higher level of religious perfection. Which discredits your initial religion in your choice to change. Afterward, it went fine. He was against it in words, never in a violent way.

“When someone died, Muslims can go to the church and attend a funeral; same with Christian. Everyone can befriend everyone, no distinction of religion.”

Tanzania is different from other countries, especially from other African East coast countries. “The first president we had told us: there will be no war in this country.” Julius Nyerere stayed 30 years has Tanzania’s president. He never installed a dictatorial or authoritarian regime. There is over 50 different tribes and many different religions. Everybody can believe in what they want and practice whatever religion they want, as long as it doesn’t break the rules of the government. “When we were seeking independence, Julius Nyerere went to one of the mosques in Bagamoyo, even if he is Christian, and prayed with Muslims all night for the independence of the country. It just shows that we have the same God. He said to us: we are not going to fight for independence, there will be no blood in our hands. We are just going to have a peaceful way of getting independence. Let’s pray to God together.”

Our first president created this strong belief: we are all related. Believe in whatever you want, but don’t break the constitution’s rules, because they are the same as what the Quran and the Bible say: don’t kill, because you will be punished.

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“Every neighborhood is full of different religions, but when something happens, everyone is there for others. Our differences have nothing to do with our religion, or in whom we believe. As human beings, we have weaknesses, and this is our biggest difference, either we like it or not.”

– Hadija

Florence Dupuis

REFERENCES

(1) https://www.worldatlas.com/articles/religious-beliefs-in-tanzania.html

(2) https://www.sahistory.org.za/dated-event/tanzania-gains-independence

(3) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Religion_in_Tanzania

 

A report on CSR in Tanzania- What it is, why it matters and how it can help Tanzania

Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) is a consistently used business practice in Tanzania, with huge corporations such as MIB Bank. Twiga Cement and Coca-Cola endorsing and investing in a large number of CSR schemes. Despite its potential to greatly help local communities, it is a concept that has not taken root in Tanzania. For a number of reasons, whether it be poor organization, a failure to engage and educate local communities or businesses being held back by a desire to put its shareholders and profits first, CSR seems to be misunderstood and at times misused. This holds Tanzania back, especially considering how important sustainable practices and further community engagement could greatly help both Tanzania and the corporations that operate within them. It can improve employment prospects for Tanzanian men and women across all sectors, help Tanzania’s environment become cleaner and safer and it can ensure sustainable and continued economic growth for Tanzania, which benefits everyone from the business directors to the local farmer.

What is CSR?

CSR stands for social corporate responsibility. It involves companies using their resources and money to try and benefit the communities they work in. This includes keeping pollution down, providing more energy and resources to the community and working alongside the community to improve conditions for the local people. This can take many forms, from making its manufacturing or extracting processes more sustainable to helping pay for classroom equipment to ensure local students have the tools to succeed. It can also involve companies donating some of its profits to local projects such as building new irrigation systems or helping refurbish local community centers. By providing these resources and funding, the companies can enhance their reputations both locally and across the region they operate in by helping to gain a loyal customer base, who trust and support the business due to their positive investment in the community.. When done well, CSR has the potential to improve society for the better and benefit everyone within it.

Why is CSR important to Tanzania?

While CSR schemes can be a huge benefit to any country or region willing to embrace them, it can be even more important for Tanzania. Firstly, by working with businesses to implement sustainable practices, it can ensure that Tanzania can maintain its key resources. Around a quarter of Tanzania’s economy is taken up by mining, industry and construction. In particular, as of 2013, 89% of Tanzania’s mineral export wealth comes from gold, although diamonds and tanzanite also contribute to Tanzania’s export wealth. Therefore, it is vital that businesses mine these resources sustainably so that more people can use and profit from their natural resources for many generations, not just for short term profitability.

Another key aspect of the Tanzanian economy is farming, with agricultural workers representing around half of the employed workforce in Tanzania. However, climate change and unsustainable irrigation and farming practices mean that it is becoming harder and harder to farm successfully in Tanzania. Due to these challenges, people will struggle to grow crops or earn money, in turn leading to more people in poverty.

CSR projects take many different forms, but a key aspect is that they encourage businesses to use sustainable practices. This includes reducing water, soil and air pollution that can badly damage the farming land and environment. This will hugely benefit local farmers, who with more clean water and high quality land can continue to grow crops and farm successfully.  It also means convincing extractive industries that they can still grow and produce profits for its shareholders without drying up Tanzania’s natural resources, which need to be preserved to ensure long term profit and economic growth for Tanzania. Therefore, CSR can be crucial in protecting Tanzania’s economic and environmental future.

Another factor to remember is the disparity between the economic growth in Tanzania and how much of it is reaching the people of Tanzania. In a recent World Bank report, they state how while the country has enjoyed sustained economic growth for the past 20 years, Tanzania’s wealth per capita- the sum of all its human, physical and natural capital has decreased. This reflects how Tanzania’s natural resources, which as mentioned previously contribute heavily to Tanzania’s wealth overall, are not being managed effectively and are therefore not creating sustainable economic growth for the whole of Tanzania.

Tanzania also has one of the largest poor populations in Africa, with around 21.3 million citizens living below the poverty line. The World Bank report also states how with the population in Tanzania set to grow exponentially (the Tanzanian population is expected to triple to 138 million by 2050), there will be huge pressure on natural resources and necessities. This will be compounded by increased urbanisation and climate change. In simple terms, more people (who are already struggling with poverty and rely on natural resources) will have to compete for less space, farmable land, water and reliable energy supplies.

CSR can help manage the worst affects. By getting businesses to commit more funding and expertise to local communities, they can help limit the worst effects of poverty, whether it be improving energy supply, helping to educate people and protecting the land from environmental damage, or by introducing schemes that will help jobseekers gain further qualifications and skills that will help them earn the money to improve their living standards.

How is CSR operating in Tanzania now?

The good news is that progress is being made. Government legislation implemented in 2017 has made sure businesses carry out their social responsibilities to the areas they operate in, whether through education and training, more sustainable practices or through providing funding equipment and facilities in the local communities. It also forces them to commit a small percentage (around 0.7%) of their income to CSR schemes. It is a huge step forward from businesses using their own discretion when deciding what their social responsibilities were.

In a recent article by the Citizen, they report on and highlight the key points of a recent social responsibility forum held in Dar Es Salaam focusing on women employment in extractive industries. At this forum, they commend extractive industries for their steps towards taking up greater social responsibility. However, they also recommend that more should be done to educate girls at the school and university level. More women should be trained and educated in these industries to ensure in the future that these companies can cultivate local women to help them implement more effective and sustainable practices. They emphasized how it would be both economically valuable and socially beneficial to include more women in the extractive industries. What this conference reflects is that while steps are being made to make CSR better understood and more effective and better understood, more can always be done, especially at the local level.

Without continuing to highlight the importance of CSR schemes to both businesses and the community, their positive impact is reduced as companies sacrifice genuine positive change for profitability or some quick publicity. This is reflected in a 2017 study looking at the CSR policies implemented in the Msalala district of Tanzania by extractive and mining industries. While the Bulyanhulu Gold Mine Company did provide dispensaries, latrines and school desks, the majority of the public response from those surveyed was negative. They felt they were not included in the use of CSR funds and companies in the region also scored poorly amongst the public on dealing with issues of environmental pollution, inflation, healthcare and poverty. This shows how even with the legislation, CSR schemes can still struggle to deliver positive change to local communities

This is not just an isolated case. A comprehensive study of CSR in Tanzania done by a student at the university of Dar Es Salaam concludes that while businesses are quick to proclaim how effective their CSR schemes are, in reality these companies often use these schemes to generate further publicity and create a greater demand for their service/product. Supporting the local community is often a secondary concern. To solve this, the study concludes that more needs to be done to educate and involve the community in CSR schemes and help push the government to act as a coordinator and enforcer to ensure these schemes are a huge success for both businesses and the local people. This reflects that there is still much more that can be done to raise awareness of the concept in the local communities and ensure businesses help communities by aiding gender equality in employment, implementing sustainable business practices and helping to engage and solve problems within the local community.

So, what more can be done? 

With this article looking at how useful CSR is and how it can benefit Tanzania, it is also important to outline the steps that are needed to make it successful.

Community engagement is a key aspect, and ensuring that local businesses, schools, workers and groups are aware of CSR schemes and become more and more invested in making sure that these schemes truly benefit the community. As part of this, it also involves educating people on the key reasons why CSR schemes are important. It is also crucial that young students are educated on the importance of CSR, as they can then take these ideas with them as the progress into further studies and a career. Therefore, outreach into schools and universities is important, whether it be through lectures, debates, seminars or even longer educational programs. These ideas will help them become more employable but also help integrate these important ideas into whatever sector they go into, whether that be the private sector industries, into government or just into public life. This can then create more engagement on these issues with businesses, meaning there are more people who are ready and willing to work in tandem with businesses to ensure the greatest benefit to the local people and communities.

Alongside this, a crucial step is trying to continue to push businesses to invest in the local community. This can be done not only through creating demand for CSR schemes by educating the markets and consumers these businesses are selling too, but through negotiating agreements between non profits, businesses and local institutions that will bring about even more mutually beneficial CSR schemes. In the long run, it will also be vital that the government becomes increasingly involved in co-ordinating CSR schemes to ensure that both business and societal interests are met. In an ideal world, they will come up with even stricter guidelines that ensure companies are forced to carry out their responsibilities and that they work with local communities to ensure that the local people are able to participate and improve their areas.

CSR therefore offers plenty of opportunity for businesses and communities to work together and create truly positive change, but there is plenty of work to do to ensure that the CSR concept can deliver on its huge potential.

References 

-Citizen Article on CSR forum, March 30th 2019: https://www.thecitizen.co.tz/news/CSR-is-key-to-social-sustainability/1840340-5049158-tftwi0z/index.html

-World Bank Report May 2019: https://www.worldbank.org/en/news/press-release/2019/05/05/accelerated-natural-resource-degradation-puts-tanzanias-development-goals-at-risk—new-world-bank-report

-2017 Study on the impact of CSR studies in the Msalala District by Jonas Kilave: http://scholar.mzumbe.ac.tz/handle/11192/2114

-Shukrani Mbirigend, Corporate Social Responsibility in Tanzania, Misconception, Misuse and Malpractices, Chapter 7 in particular, Dar Es Salaam Student Study: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/277389003_Corporate_Social_Responsibility_in_Tanzania_Experience_of_Misconception_Misuse_and_Malpractices:  

-All Statistics not found within other cited works were taken from the publicly available archives of the National Bureau of Statistics, done by Tanzania’s Ministry of Finance

A passion for helping the kids in need

Interview with volunteer Rukiye.

All photos are from the day we spent in Snakepark with the kids of Amani orphanage.

Let’s begin with a hard one: Who are you?

I’m Rukiye, 26 years old and I come from Denmark but originally I’m from Turkey. I’m almost done with my studies and soon I can say that I’m a graduated careworker. I already work in nursery schools where my focus is on early childhood development. In addition I have two other jobs and I do volunteer work in Denmark too.

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Rukiye and Alex.♥

Why did you decide to come to volunteer in Tanzania?

I have always wanted to come to Africa because since I was a child I have been dreaming of having my own orphanage in this continent. I was looking around in Internet for a long time and visited many web sites of different organizations. I noticed that AIT was the cheapest option so that played a role in my choice too. Couple months ago I finally decided that February would be a good time to go. After that I wrote to a Facebook group and asked if someone would want to come with me because I was too afraid to go alone. Luckily I got one girl to come with me and now we have spent almost a month here. What comes to the country, I didn’t prefer any but I could not be happier that I chose Tanzania.

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What kind of volunteer work have you been doing here?

Before coming here I arranged a fundraising through Facebook, Instagram and other social media channels. My family and friends helped me to share the message and I was so happy about how much I managed to collect: 2 739 dollars along with the money I put into it. With this money I bought a lot of toys from Denmark and brought them here because I wanted to give them to the schools and nurseries. Playing is learning and it especially improves children’s motor skills. That is why I wanted to bring toys here. It took from 1 to 2 weeks to visit different places, play with the children and give them the toys and games.

After that we have been visiting more schools and orphanages, observing them and asking what kind of things they would need. Then I have been buying more things such as backpacks, pens, books and other school things, toys, diapers, food… I learnt that you need to be careful when doing this because unfortunately some people only want the money and don’t think about the children’s needs. I have, with the help of others, also arranged a day out with the children of Amani Orphanage and we together also cleaned and painted the walls of a school nearby. I have also been talking to the leader of the orphanage about what it takes to open an orphanage here, how she started etc.

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Has something surprised you here?

I really did not expect Africa to be like this. Media gives us only one side of the continent: hunger, poverty, insecurity… Those things exist here but still it is so much more than that. I didn’t expect it to be this green and many places remind me of other countries even in Europe. In addition people, especially children, have surprised me because they get so happy with so little: just by seeing you. I have to say that it feels like home here and I feel safe. Before I came here I was so nervous and scared that something bad would happen to me but here I have not felt fear at all. Despite of that it is important to always be careful.

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What has been the best thing here?

People. I’m shy when I don’t feel safe and before this trip I was scared that I wouldn’t find any friends. But I have got so many new friends and I can talk to anyone here. It feels like I have a new family because normally I get homesick very quickly but here I haven’t felt that almost at all.

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What has not been that great?

The toilets… Hygiene is obviously not that great here and the dry toilets were not very tempting at first and it took two weeks to get used to them. But that’s just a small thing and you learn to live with everything.

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What have you learnt during this trip and what can you bring with you to Denmark?

When we were arranging the day out with the kids, it was the first time in my life when I had to be the leader and people were asking me about everything. I definitely had to come out of my comfort zone and just do it because it was my own plan. Now I feel that I can be responsible for these kind of events and for so many people. But especially here I think you have to have locals helping you and people who you can rely on. I’m glad that the team leaders helped me in so many ways.

This trip has in many ways been an eye-opening journey. I have learnt that I can’t do anything alone and that loyalty is very important. I have gotten many new contacts which could help me when I begin to work towards my dream: my own orphanage. But the most important thing I got from here is friends.

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Tessa

 

‘Adoption in Tanzania’

Interview with Joel from Glory of Africa Orphanage

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Glory of Africa is  an orphanage located in Mivumoni where Art in Tanzania teaches, gives seminars and organizes activities for the kids. Joel and his wife Felista have been running the organization since 2012 and strive to give each kid a promising future by providing them with food, shelter and education. What surprised me is that no kids get adopted, ever. In this interview I asked Joel why this is the case and what happens when the kids grow older.


“How many kids have been adopted from this orphanage?”

Zero.

“Why do you think children don’t get adopted by foreigners that are often in Tanzania?”

The governmental procedures are very strict. It takes such a long time that inevitably most of the potential parents looking to adopt just give up. Also the orphanages don’t like kids to be adopted. This is because they are scared to give the kids to strangers. It’s always a guess, you never really know what the intentions for the adoption are.

Since most of the kids still have family here, they (kids and family) prefer to stay here. The family sends their kids to the orphanage because they know they will get an education here and stay out of trouble. In the future they expect the kid to come back to the family and provide them with a better future.

The kids who do get adopted are expected to come back to Tanzania after their education to take care of the family. This is an unwritten rule and the decision fundamentally lays fully with the kid, of course. However, the family does expect that. For example some adoption contracts ask the kid to keep in contact with their biological family. This is also because the kid should not forget the country and culture in which he/she was born. This doesn’t happen often though.

“Do Tanzanian families ever adopt Tanzanian children or does this also not happen?”

No. Tanzanian families have enough difficulties in taking care of their own families. So they barely ever adopt a child. The financial situation of most Tanzanian citizens is not strong enough to adopt a child out of their family.

“Are you afraid that people come here do adopt with bad intentions?”

Yes, that always crosses my mind. Sometimes kids get adopted to do chores in the house, to work on the farm, … This is not a good future for them. That’s why I prefer to keep them here until they are grown up and can make decisions on their own. When they turn 18 they can be adopted if they still want to be adopted. Before that age, anything attracts them and they make decisions without thinking. When they regret the decision, they might run away from the adoption family, live on the streets and get in contact with bad people and learn to behave badly.

“How many kids are staying here now?”

35 kids come here daily to get food and education. 7 of the 35 kids are also sleeping here. This is because a lot of the kids here still have family, however they can’t provide for them. Common examples of the children’s situations are having a single, disabled or mentally ill parent or no parents at all with only grandparents or possibly an uncle left. Most of them do keep in touch with their family. This might not be a registered orphanage but the government passes by once in a while and they have the contacts of every kid staying here at the orphanage. The orphanage provides food, shelter and education for kids who need it.

“Do kids want to be adopted? Do they ever mention it?”

No, they like to be at the orphanage. They are surrounded by kids who are the same age, who speak the same language and all of them are in a similar situation. This comforts them and they wouldn’t like it any other way. They feel safe.

“What happens when the kids turn 18?”

When the kid turns 18 he can do whatever he wants. He can go to college, he can go back to his family, he can start working or he can stay at the orphanage. It’s all up to the kid. The kid can also choose the get adopted, but this happens rarely. If the kid gets adopted, he can stay at the family for one month as a trial. If everything works out well and both parties are happy, the adoption can officially go through.

If the kid wants to stay at the orphanage, that is possible if he keeps following the rules. If the kid doesn’t listen, goes out, drinks alcohol, or is badly behaved and influencing the other kids than he/she will no longer  be welcome at the orphanage. 

“Do they get proper support from the government to build an independent life?”

No the government doesn’t support them. This is because this orphanage is not registered (yet). The orphanage itself barely gets any support from the government as well. Sometimes  when the person from the government has a heart he will provide us supplies such as food or mosquito nets. But this depends only on the heart of the person. I also work as a tailor and that enables this orphanage to stay up and running. Sometimes I get donations from people who volunteer here. That helps as well. I don’t like asking for money, if people donate it’s because they proposed it themselves.

Some orphanages exploit the system as a way to earn money. They ask the remaining relatives to give money, they send kids to the city and let them work jobs selling peanuts, for example. When they don’t sell enough peanuts, the kids get kicked out or thrown on to the streets.

“Can kids (financially) go to university after staying in the orphanage?”

Yes, they can but it depends on their own financial situation. If the family saved money to let the kid go to university, he is lucky and he can go. If the family is poor and he wants to go to university, he’ll have to work and study at the same time to be able to pay for his studies.

Written by Alice Coetsier


If you are interested in supporting this orphanage, please click the link below. More information about this project can be found on this gofundme webpage.

gofundme-GloryofAfrica

Black is Beautiful

 

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“If I had a superpower, it would be to turn white.”

“Your skin is prettier than ours.”

 

 

black handsAfter hearing these quotes from extremely young girls during my first month living in Africa, I started wondering why they would idealize fair skin when theirs is just as beautiful. Billboard advertisements for clothes and jewelry here commonly feature stunning black women, and the children are constantly surrounded by hard-working, black adults who serve as consistent, positive role models. The Tanzanian flag incorporates the color black to represent the Swahili peoples’ pride in the color of their skin; yet, during my stay here, the children have displayed the (sometimes intense) desire to be white.

It wasn’t until I went to the movies to watch The Incredibles 2 that I noticed how many young black children there were at the local theater to watch a film about superheroes- white superheroes.

The Incredibles is a typical kid’s movie—a white family with super powers saving white bystanders, with a single black hero thrown in the mix for “diversity.” I started to think about how different the film would be if The Incredibles family was black, and if Frozone was just the white sidekick.

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In my head I went through my list of princesses and superheroes I wanted to be like when I was a younger. Not one was black. Tinkerbell. Superman. Cinderella. Sleeping Beauty.

The hair I wanted to grow out and comb with a fork was a realistic dream because both me and The Little Mermaid have white girl hair.

So what princess is there showing black girls how beautiful their hair can be? Which one shows how pretty and practical the common shaved African head is?

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Out of Rotten Tomatoes “Top 100 Kids and Family Movies”, zero star a black character as the lead role. That statistic includes the two movies set in Africa. Black children have the option of either watching a white family heroically raise a safari animal, or watching The Lion King in which only the villains of the plot line have black fur.

Ants are black.

So why are the ants in the animated movie Antz colored white? 

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If the statistic that 85% of the human brain develops before the age of five is accurate, having adequate representation in children’s media is a huge factor in determining a child’s self-esteem.

African girls and boys deserve to know how wonderful they are, and how wonderful they will grow up to be. They deserve to know that they have just as much of a chance at saving the world or meeting Prince Charming as the white child sitting next to them in the movie theater. They deserve to know that African Beauty isn’t just a song.

 

They deserve black princesses.

Andrea O’Boyle

Medical Project at Faraja Dispensary

Art in Tanzania work in partnership with clinics and hospitals in the Dar es salaam area to provide medical projects for volunteers who are either fully qualified doctors/nurses or currently in Med School. Around 2 weeks ago, a nurse from Norway, Katja, arrived in Tanzania and has been volunteering at the Faraja Dispensary – a local clinic in Madale; less than a 10 minute walk from the AIT compound.

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Working together with the nurses in the pharmacy

The Faraja Dispensary is a private clinic that deals with minor surgical procedures and general clinical services such as HIV/AIDS prevention, growth monitoring, child health care services and many others. Malaria diagnosis and treatment was noted as the most common problem dealt with at the clinic. Last week I, along with a fellow media and journalism intern, were able to assist Katja to the clinic to see observe what happens on a typical day. She has mainly been performing injection procedures to treat diseases such as malaria and on Fridays, Katja works alongside nurses assisting with the health care of children in the mother and baby unit of the dispensary.

I got that chance to speak to one of the head doctors in the clinic to learn a little more about the dispensary and some of the issues it deals with. At night the clinic is usually at it’s busiest with doctors and nurses treating injuries resulting from road accidents. With the clinical facilities enabling only the treatment of minor injuries, patients with more serious problems are usually referred to a public hospital obtaining more technical facilities and instruments of a higher quality.  Problems faced with the transfer of patients from the Faraja Dispensary to a hospital of higher standards is the availability of transport.  Ambulances are not an option for patients coming from the Faraja Dispensary therefore public transport seem to be the only viable option. The patient, then, is responsible for covering the cost of the transport. The cost of health care on top of transport fee is one of the issues faced for many local residents. However, compared to larger scale hospitals and clinics, Faraja Dispensary is one of the cheaper health services in the Madale area. They offer many free vaccinations and the cost of medicine is somewhat affordable for the local residents.

Art in Tanzania offer numerous projects involving medical and health care. As well as working with many hospitals and clinics, volunteers are able to provided community care and health teaching & training to schools and villages in the Dar es Salaam area. They are able to help and assist staff in the clinics as many of them are understaffed; as well as gaining valuable medical experience in an environment different from the norm. One of the largest ongoing projects is the HIV/AIDS awareness seminars in which volunteers are able to raise awareness of these issues to the local community. If you would like to read more about some of the medical projects offered with Art in Tanzania, please do not hesitate to visit our website!

Asante sana,

Lily

 

Interview with an Intern: Tomoki

Art in Tanzania receives many different interns and volunteers from different parts of the world, all year round. As an intern myself, it is interesting to meet and live among such a diverse group of people, learn about their home countries and what they are doing with Art in Tanzania. So I decided to interview one intern originally from Japan; Tomoki…

Q: What is your name and where are you from?

A: My name is Tomoki Noguchi and originally I am from Japan but I go to university in New York in the US.

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Tomoki hard at work in the office

Q: How long have you been in Tanzania?

A: So far I have been here for 15 days and I am staying for 1 month. So I’m about half way through. It is also my first time in Africa.

Q: Where did you hear about Art in Tanzania?

A: I heard about Art in Tanzania through my university on the internship website. AIT was posted on the webpage. Also, one of my friends came here last year so he told me all about it.

Q: What is your job as an intern with Art in Tanzania?

A: I am working on sanitation projects. So currently I am analysing the efficiency of composting/dry toilets. In the future Art in Tanzania are hoping to put dry toilet systems in schools all across Tanzania and I am helping to do the research for this.

Q: Is living in Tanzania very different to living in your home country?

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Boxing Day at the beach with Glory of Africa Orphanage

A: Yeah, of course, no place is the same. The roads here are rubbish, I hate shaking. I get stomachache and headache, the government should fix that; there should be pavement. I don’t understand, that should be top priority – I was shocked.

Q: What are you enjoying most about Tanzania?

A: I enjoy making new friends from all over the world. Some of the food I enjoy but some I don’t really like. I haven’t tried much traditional food but I really like cassava. I’m used to eating things like chapatis and cassava so it’s good.

Q: What do you miss most about your home?

A: I don’t really miss America that much. I’ve been missing many things from Japan. For example sanitation and traditional Japanese food, of course. Tokyo city overall. But what i’ve been missing is the culture in more developed countries. When I went to the hospital I didn’t feel like they were professional or had the responsibility of doctors.

Q: Do you think you will come back and visit?

A: I would definitely like to come back and visit Moshi to see Kilimajaro and may be even climb it. I would also like to see a national park.

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Tomoki with one of the house dogs; JJ

 

“I’m really enjoying my time in Tanzania because of the people here, everyone is so friendly and welcoming, especially JJ!”

Asante sana,

Lily