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School children participate in community projects

These days she is excited about going to school and gets up early every morning without her grandmother prodding her. “We now have a modern kitchen at school.

The toilets are clean and there is a playground for us to play. I like the new kitchen the most because now our food is now cooked nicely. My younger brothers and sisters will soon join my school and when I grow up I want to be a primary school teacher.”

The renovations at Nkosangana Primary School have been undertaken by Childreach International (CI) based in the United Kingdom. The charity has an office. Last year CI provided support for the improvement of 29 primary schools and five vocational training centres located in Kilimanjaro, Manyara and Shinyanga regions.

The Country Director and Coordinator of CI, Mrs Sheila Mkindara says some of the activities carried out include distribution of books, construction and renovation of classrooms, administrative blocks, kitchen, toilets and water connections, to mention but a few.

Founded in 2003 CI, opened its first office in Africa in Moshi in 2009 and works directly with communities bringing about positive change. The charity, has offices in India, Nepal, USA and Canada and believes that by working hand in hand with children and their families, sustainable solutions could be provided, leading to self-sufficiency.

The mission of CI, according to Mrs Mkindara, is to help children unlock their potential as they believe that all children have the right to health care, brighter future, through innovative learning and safe environments. “By encouraging children and families to take responsibility of programmes and projects, they become stakeholders and are able to shape their own future and look forward to the improved conditions provided by long-term education and welfare services,” she said.

In 2010, CI empowered over 40,000 children worldwide to re-claim their basic human rights, play an active role in the development of the communities they live in and enjoy the opportunities they deserve. Mrs Mkindara says that CI has achieved this by improving access to education and health care, while at the same time reducing the risks of exploitation and abuse.

The Chairperson of CI Board of governors, Ms Lucretia Hudson-Garber Chair, says, “As a rapidly growing organisation, the board has been looking at implementing a restructuring of the organisation. We hope that the outcomes of the change process we are undertaking will include improving our role as an employer that aims to develop and support every member of the staff and volunteer, which in turn will enable us to improve our efficiency in delivering services to our beneficiaries.”

The CI school improvement programme was introduced in Tanzania in 2009 after carrying out a needs assessment in schools located in Kilimanjaro and Manyara regions before allocating funding for six schools in dire need of support. “Through active participation from the local community and district officials, CI has successfully completed renovation of schools,” Mrs Makindara said, adding that the programme adheres closely to CI’s underlying principle of community based development; each project works with stakeholders and beneficiaries to ensure that every stage of the project is community supported to ascertain its sustainability.

Although each project is unique, the overall aim is to improve the school environment. Larger projects have included the provision of new toilet blocks, playground facilities and improved kitchens with energy saving cookers as well as building teachers’ houses and nursery schools. Initially, the programme benefitted 2,894 children, surpassing the original target of 2,521 children and primary school enrolment increased. Pupils from neighbouring schools requested to be transferred in order to benefit from the new learning environment.
CI has always focused on innovative learning key and a vocational training programme was set to help youths and vulnerable children develop their future potential. Carpentry, tailoring, information technology, mathematics and basic English are some of the skills taught at the vocational training centres as those skills will help them earn a living and play an active role in society.

Mwandishi: PETER TEMBA in Moshi

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