small foundation with a big impact

sometimes things go wrong

27-10-2016
Things do go wrong sometimes, even at Happy Watoto. Angela and Daines were expelled last week due to misconduct. The girls (14 years old) have lived with us since they were three. After Ngorika primary school, they moved to a secondary boarding school at the beginning of this year. Angela was unhappy from day one. She complained about the teachers, disliked her daily chores and did not like the food. Daines joined her chorus of complaints.Angela and Daines wanted to go to another, more expensive school. Despite having had several conversations with our social worker, the dissatisfaction continued. A reckless deed, aimed at forcing the issue, backfired on them. The girls were expelled with immediate effect. An unpleasant situation that gave us pause.

In Kikatiti and Ngorika, we have created a safe and pleasant environment in which to shelter children. That is most certainly in contrast with the miserable conditions from which they come. Many of the children have traumatic experiences in their past. That is why we give them space to breathe at Kikatiti, and surround them with warmth and care. In Ngorika, we gradually confront them with Tanzanian reality, and the outside world. Where possible, we send children home during the vacations, so that they do not become alienated from their former living standards. However, in the case of Angela and Daines, this was not successful.

Our policy is to include Tanzanian practices in our schooling. All children have household chores to perform. We have not acquired a washing machine, but teach the children to wash their clothes the Tanzanian way, by hand. We see it as our responsibility to surround the children with loving people, who have their best interests at heart and want to prepare them for the future in the best possible manner. We delegate a great deal of responsibility to the local team. In the case of Angela and Daines, we are also interested in their perspective, and will not try to solve this problem ourselves from a Western perspective and through consultation.

Angela and Daines have been sent back to their people until the end of the schoolyear (December), and are expected to cooperate fully during those three months. It has since been decided that they will be given a second chance, and that we will act as an intermediary for a (tuition-free) government school. Because the government has made O-level education obligatory, it is now free of charge. Boarding must be provided by their own families, as there will be no further financial support for them from our foundation.

Fortunately, many things are going well at Happy Watoto, which reinforces our confidence in our policies. It is not always possible to anticipate every problem, but we try to learn from them as they arise.

Photo: group 6 and 7 exam students, approximately half of whom moved to the secondary school in 2016.
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