“My name is Mary. We are five children in my family, one boy and four girls. We were all born in Nairobi, Kenya since my father is a Kenyan and my mother a Tanzanian. I went through my primary education in Kenya up to standard seven then my parents relocated to Tanzania.
“My parents used to quarrel a lot and later on they separated. My father neglected us and we have never traced his whereabouts till today. My mother was unemployed and our living conditions became too hard for us since she could not afford to cater for the needs of the five children. It was at this time that she abandoned us and we were left under the care of my elder sister. We came to learn later that my mother lives in Dar es Salaam but she never cares about us anymore. At that time I dropped out of school since my sister could not afford to pay for our school fees.
“We have lived with my sister ever since our parents left us, and she had to struggle to take the responsibility of providing for our basic needs. Life was too hard for us since she did not have a permanent job and she later on got a baby. Therefore she had an added responsibility, and we all lived in a small one bedroom rented house; life did not get any better. Most of the times we failed to get food and sleep hungry and my young sisters and brother were not able to continue with school as well. It was at this point that I engaged myself in commercial sex work at the age of 13. I engaged in this work for one year before I met Shalom.
“This sex trade activity is very hard and most of the times I could only get very little money or even none since most of the clients claimed that I was too naïve for this kind of work. I don’t like this kind of activity, there are so many risks but I was pushed to do it because of the hard living conditions.
“Once I was enrolled in Shalom project for girls at risk, I stopped this activity since they gave me hope for a better life and I also got an opportunity to go to vocational training in hotel management course for one year which I believe will transform my life.
“There are still challenges faced during training, like lack of bus fare but I decided never to go back to sex trade since I want to live a better life and be a role model to other girls who have lost hope in their lives.“I am grateful to Shalom for the opportunity to further my studies and also for equipping me with other skills like entrepreneurship skill, reproductive health and also moral support. My life has become better since I stopped engaging in commercial sex activity. Shalom also helped me trace my aunty whom I live with now, since my sister could not afford to cater for all our needs. If it were not for Shalom, I could still be engaging in sex trade since I had no hope for a better life, but now they have taught me how to value my life.
“My future hopes are to get employment once I finish the course I am undertaking now so that I can help my siblings. I would also like to advance my studies; maybe do a diploma in some other field of studies. I would also love to help girls like me so that they can have a better life.”
This project is currently supporting 23 teenage girls and young women, many of whom are involved in the commercial sex trade. The women and girls are being supported through psychosocial counselling, enrollment in vocational training courses, entrepreneurship/business skills training, and training in life skills and reproductive/sexual health education. Following discussions with each girl on the most appropriate course for them, three were enrolled on a six month training course in beauty/hair dressing, 19 were enrolled on a 12 month training course in hotel management, and one girl was enrolled on a Early Childhood Development course, equipping them all with marketable skills in order to find meaningful work in the community or establish their own businesses. Shalom’s social workers and community volunteers make regular visits to their homes and the training centres to monitor progress and attendance. If any of the trainees’ attendance starts dipping, Shalom’s social worker will follow-up with the girl to check the reasons for this and provide appropriate support.
Shalom organised group excursions for the girls to develop their confidence, broaden their horizons, and motivate them. The girls were taken to various markets in Arusha to visit women from similar backgrounds to themselves who are now earning an income and have improved their lives; 17 hotel management trainees visited the National Parks Hotel to learn about hotel management.The trainees formed four groups, based on their location, which meet on a regular basis to provide peer support, discuss progress and challenges, and share ideas on income generating activities. The groups are extremely important for providing support – many of the girls had never previously had such a support base where they could confide in others and request advice.
The women and girls are expected to complete their training in late February and will be supported to secure permanent jobs or provided with equipment required to start-up their own business. Stay tuned for further updates!
Have there been any unexpected results so far?
A significant challenge that has arisen is ensuring the teenage girls can meet their living costs while taking part in training e.g. rent, bus fares to the training centre, food, and childcare costs. This has meant that once or twice a fortnight 15 of the trainees are still engaging in sex work to make ends meet. Shalom has therefore decided to provide them with entrepreneurship and business skills training, as well as start-up capital (£12-20), to enable them to establish small income generating activities, which could be carried out without interfering with their studies. These include selling second hand shoes and clothes; making and selling juice; selling snacks and fish; and making and selling charcoal. This will enable them to earn a small amount of money to cover their bus fares, rent, food, and childcare costs.
Has the project reached any community members, which it had not initially planned to reach?
The project initially planned to support one hundred children in Year 1 but reached five additional children with disabilities, providing them with uniforms and school materials in order for them to attend school. They have been enrolled in a special education class in Ngaramtoni Primary school; Shalom hopes to mainstream them in the future. On seeing these children attend school and following ongoing sensitisation about disability within the community, the parents of 10 other disabled children decided to enroll their children in Ngaramtoni Primary school.
Have there been any particular challenges in including marginalized children within the project?
As Shalom has only just started to sensitise the community on the rights of children with disabilities through meetings, home visits and the radio programme, there is still much stigma, discrimination and marginalization of people with disabilities throughout the community e.g. many parents still hide any children with disabilities and they are still believed to be bad omens.
International Childcare Trust established a partnership with Shalom Centre in March 2011. Shalom is a local NGO, established in 2005, which provides support to street children in Arusha, northern Tanzania. As well as providing services from its main centre and meeting the basic need of orphans and street children in the Arusha area, Shalom has developed an extensive outreach programme which focuses on reintegrating these children back into society. Shalom supports children who otherwise would not have the opportunity to reach their full potential. One such child is Sophia who has recently received a Diana Award after being nominated by Shalom.
Sophia is from Arusha and comes from a poor background. Having spent two years living on the streets, she met a social worker from Shalom. After meeting with the social worker three times, Sophia and her two siblings were helped to get off the streets and back into school. Sophia was enrolled in Lesiraa Primary School where she completed her primary education in September 2011 and was then selected to join secondary school in January 2012.
The Diana Awards were founded in 1999 by the UK Government to act as a lasting legacy to Princess Diana’s belief in the power of young people to change the world. The awards encourage their exceptional young recipients to continue building a better society for all.
Sophia has been awarded a Diana Award for her contribution to her community and the determination she demonstrated in the face of adversity when attempting to secure remedial classes for herself and her classmates, and an electrical generator for Shalom. Sophia is assertive, persuasive and courageous. She seeks to understand why some things are not progressing in a positive manner and actively looks for solutions to these issues.
Having broached the subject with her peers, Sophia approached the teachers at her primary school with a request for remedial classes to help those students who were struggling. She was sent away with the message that the school could not afford to do this as it would mean providing an additional meal to all of the students and staff involved in the classes. Sophia was not deterred by this news, and instead, having spoken to parents, went back to the teachers with news that parents had agreed to pay for the extra meal. Remedial classes were established and examination pass rates at the school consequently increased from 34% in 2010 to 81% in 2011. The Ward Educational Officer was so impressed upon his visit to the school that he suggested to all of the schools within his ward that they establish a similar remedial class system to that of Lesiraa Primary School.
Not only did Sophia succeed in establishing a system of food and remedial classes at her primary school, she also suggested to Shalom that they install an electrical generator at the Centre to enable the resident children to complete their homework, in the light, at night. Unfortunately Shalom did not have the funds to install such a generator, but again Sophia was not deterred. She demonstrated her determination by working with Shalom to raise funds for an electrical generator by visiting churches in the area with the choir which she had founded at Shalom. Sophia was successful in raising the funds needed to purchase the electrical generator.
Sophia is a role model and inspiration to her peers, inspiring them to lead positive lives. Her peers admire and learn from her, and the way in which she continually acts in the best interests of the community and her classmates.
PROJECT NAME: Empower 155 Street Children and Girls in TanzaniaPROJECT LOCATION: Arusha, northern TanzaniaPROJECT PARTNER: Shalom Centre for Street ChildrenPROJECT PERIOD: November 2011 - October 2012 (Year 1 of 3)
In just 6 months, this project is already making a massive difference to marginalised and at risk children and youths in Arusha, northern Tanzania.
Access to EducationThe project is supporting one hundred children to access primary education, of whom 26, aged 6-12, have been enrolled in school for the first time. Never attended school x 26Dropped out of school due to lack of scholastic materials x 9Enrolled in school but with poor attendance/performance due to family difficulties, low income of families, death of parents, child headed households etc x 65One girl, aged 12, was quoted saying in Swahili “Naishukuru Shalom kunipeleka shule kwani sikuwa na tumaini la kusoma shule siku moja” meaning that “I thank you Shalom for sending me to school as I had no hope at all that I might go to school one day”. Access to Training and Psychosocial SupportThis project is currently supporting 23 teenage girls and young women, many of whom are involved in the commercial sex trade and/or extremely vulnerable to sexual exploitation. Once identified, the women and girls were referred to Shalom’s main centre, where their immediate needs were met – they could take a shower, eat a nutritious meal and rest in safety. They were also able to access basic healthcare, recreational activities and a counselling service. As they are considered too old for mainstream schooling, Shalom enrolled the women and girls in vocational training linked to local income generating activities, following a discussion with them to decide on the most appropriate course. These courses, such as tailoring or hairdressing, will equip them with marketable skills they need to find legitimate work in the community. Shalom is also providing monthly training in life skills, health education and business skills and organise excursions to develop the girls’ confidence and broaden their horizons. Family ReintegrationFor children living on the streets on their own, Shalom’s priority is family reunification and reintegration. Shalom’s outreach workers provide these children with life skills education and psychosocial support with the aim of building trust and eventually reuniting them with their families. If family reunification is not appropriate or possible, Shalom will look into other family based alternatives, such as foster care or adoption. Shalom has so far reintegrated 20 children with their families and placed one in foster care.
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