According to the annual report of Unicef 2016, 74% of children in Tanzania live in poverty. Orphaned children, family dis-integration, and poverty are reasons for not attending school. NIHEP noted in 2011 a high level of children not attending school in Butimba area in Mwanza and that is how it all started. Our common primary aim is to reduce this number and support children to school and the activities are now extended to include the Lwanhima area. Governmental Primary education is free of charge but many parents/guardians cannot afford to buy school supplies and without required supplies it is not possible to start school. NIHEP registers children who are not attending school and buy the supplies, which are handed out to the invited children and parents in the local administration office. NIHEP is also doing follow-ups, checking the need of tuition and connecting teachers and parents. Simultaneously with distribution of school support, awareness is raised in the community on the importance of education.
With the help of Mwembe sponsors and SKKB Netherlands, NIHEP has enrolled 300 children to school since the start 2011, supported by Mwembe r.f. and partly SKKB, Netherlands.
The long-term aim is for the parents/guardians to become self-supportive. Mapping out the need for school support, NIHEP also registers other needs in the family. These can be poor health, marital problems or alcohol abuse. Children in these families commonly are in high risk of running to the streets, and that is why the parent support is a very important preventive work. The parent support involves that the parents, most of them single mothers, some grandparents, are divided into groups where they also support each other. Important is that the parents come up with their own ideas about how they can increase their income to become self-sufficient.
For now, 5 parent groups involving 65 parents/guardians are supported with tuition by NIHEP staff.
Young girls without formal education are at high risk of early marriage, early pregnancy, HIV and other diseases. Research shows that Life Skills Programs are needed to strengthen girls both in and outside school. Together with NIHEP we started a support group for the girls from vulnerable families in Lwanhima ward. The program is working with the self confidence, self knowledge, reproductive health education and awareness on women’s rights. The group is called Wasiliana (communication) and is open for every girl living in the area, but its main objective is to reach those girls who have dropped out of school and if possible enroll them back to school. The group sessions always close with practical skills and physical activities as football and netball.
The program started in 2016 and has over 40 participants who are mentored by NIHEP staff.
Some of the families are very poor. There is also usually a lack of mattresses and bedding. There are families who can’t afford to buy food every day and malnutrition occurs.
We have noticed that providing the families with daily food supplies for a short period and necessary commodities for the household, they can focus on ideas how to get self-supportive. The start pack contains basic food, household material, mattresses and bedding.
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