small foundation with a big impact

a bright future

The first few hours of my July trip to Tanzania set a bad tone and showed that President Magulufi’s anti-corruption effort still had a long way to go. Travelers at the airport siphoned off to pay ‘fines’ for trumped up charges, roads that had been virtually washed away by the rains, and traffic police hiding behind bushes to pull over drivers who couldn’t afford to pay more ‘fines’. Welcome to Tanzania !
Despite this inauspicious start, over the next four days I found much that was in excellent shape – plenty of happy, loved children, and enthusiastic teachers. Lerai full of crops that were going to help feed the children for the remainder of the year. Ngorika home having gone through an extensive renovation thanks to our German partners, Good Hope. Much to be very satisfied with, but not complacent about, and still much to be done with big challenges up ahead.
The biggest challenge is to put a comprehensive plan in place for the children leaving school, to ensure that they find themselves in a position where they can stand on their own two feet. In January 2018 the first full class of ‘Happy Watoto’ children graduate from secondary school. The question to answer is how to support them to evolve into young, self sufficient adults with a bright future rather than to return to the environment and the prospects that they came from when they were three years old. I ran a workshop with the Management Team to help map out our options. We had a great discussion on the choice of the right secondary schools, the options for vocational training, professions that the children might move into, teaming up with local businesses for apprenticeships and employment, and micro-finance to support small businesses. The most important factors are looking at the children individually and matching their aspirations with their abilities, and ensuring that you put everything into the local context of the children we’re responsible for. To do this, you have to really immerse yourself in Tanzania, the school, and the children. Fortunately we have excellent local staff, NGO board and management team who never cease to amaze me by their wisdom and pragmatic solutions.
One of my trips final acts was to visit another primary school about 5 miles away to see where we might collaborate and learn from each other. I found a Tanzanian run school, which had grown from a ‘classroom’ for 14 students in a makeshift hut just over 10 years ago, and was now a school for over 1,000 students, and was ranked #2 in the school district. The founder had just opened a secondary school, had plans for a college and was inspirational :
Tanzania’s biggest problem is corruption. This will not change from the top, so I decided to set up a school and educate the children to have strong moral fortitude, to learn that corruption is not acceptable, and through them start changing the country’.
A great way to end the trip. With inspirational local leaders like this, Tanzania has a bright future.

Richard Lines, board member
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