small foundation with a big impact

fase 4 on its way

1 January 2018 marks the date on which the first cohort of Happy Watoto children, who entered school at the age of three and have now completed their secondary education, will enter the final two-year phase. During that period they will be given vocational training and job counselling.

The children who first come to Happy Watoto at the age of three are children who without the support of our foundation would have no future prospects at all. Deprived of an education, they would be unable to find work and build an independent life as adults. This is the fate of so many in Tanzania, where youth unemployment is extremely high. Fortunately, we can provide an alternative for the ±350 children we support.

The children at Happy Watoto receive a solid English-language education, from pre-school through  secondary school at O level. Education is in English because it gives the children a significant head start in comparison with children who attend Swahili-language government schools. We follow this up with vocational training and employment counselling. This is what we call phase 4, and it is perhaps the most important phase. Without it, 15 years of education might all be for nothing, and the chance of slipping back into hopelessness would be much greater. In the end, we prefer to stay the full course with fewer children than to stop half-way through with more children.

And on 1 January 2018, the first group of children to enter Happy Watoto at the age of three will have completed their secondary education, and will be moving into the last phase. (We have of course guided other children into work following the completion of their education, but those were individual cases dealt with on an ad hoc basis and not children who had followed the entire programme from the age of three.) Our social worker Mary has conducted many conversations with these 12 youngsters over the past few years with a view to finding suitable training. The precise solutions will be discussed in October, when some of the board members will be on location for a week. Two years have been budgeted for vocational training, which includes boarding as well as schooling. Two years in which to prepare them for participation in the labour market – and possibly even for a fully independent life – but in any case for a new phase in their life, without financial support from our foundation. It is a giant step for these youngsters, who have lived in a protected environment for the past 17 years. For some time, we have been looking forward to this new phase, which is an exciting new challenge for our organization. This is after all what we hoped to achieve, and the measure of our success and ability to really make a difference.

In the coming period, our team on location will be busy collecting data and making contacts regarding, for example, work placements, living arrangements, licenses and financing arrangements for small businesses. This is all entirely new, and therefore a challenge for our team. However, we are confident that we are sending well-educated young people into the labour market, who respect and understand Tanzanian values, but can also speak English and have imbibed just enough of the western mentality to be able to stand up for themselves, an important skill to have in a country like Tanzania.

We look forward to keeping posted on their progress.
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