Vulnerable Children and Women in Tanzania Make New Starts

A grandmother readies her grandson for school
NGO Matumaini Mapya has provided Gideon Charles, pictured here with his grandmother, with supplies for the coming school year.
Education, housing and training turn the tide as part of HIV/AIDS effort
“These projects have been of an immense benefit for the community.”

September 2015—A remarkable thing happened to Gideon Charles, 14, in January. For the first time, he went to Mapinduzi primary school in Tanzania, where he was enrolled in standard one, or first grade. At his age, his peers are enrolled in standard five or six, yet Gideon was proud.

Gideon is one of thousands of vulnerable children in Tanzania whose families have been devastated by HIV/AIDS. Following his parents’ death in the mid-1990s from the virus, Gideon's future—like that of many Tanzanian orphans—seemed bleak. Living with his grandmother, he was missing out on the things that most children take for granted, like an education.

For Gideon, a chance at a better life came from Matumaini Mapya, which means “new hope” in Kiswahili. Established in 1997, the civil society organization focuses on helping marginalized women and children with limited or no sources of income through economic empowerment and the exercise of their legal rights. Since 2013, Matumaini Mapya has enrolled 431 orphans and vulnerable children in school.

Since 2012, USAID has been aiding Matumanini Mapya and other small, local, civil society organizations in Tanzania through the Building Organizational Capacity for Results program, which improves the functioning of civil society organizations and their networks to create strong, coordinated and sustainable groups. Over the long term, the program aims to equip these local organizations to leverage domestic resources to respond effectively to HIV and AIDS in Tanzania.

Matumaini Mapya received training in 2012 to improve leadership development, strategic planning, and resource management. The organization also developed partnerships with the Commonwealth of Learning’s Lifelong Learning for Farmers project and two other USAID-funded projects: a savings and credit scheme, and a canteen established on Matumaini Mapya’s premises.

The canteen generates around $550 (1,200,000 Tanzanian shillings) a year, which has allowed Matumaini Mapya to support 250 children, including Gideon, with better access to essential services including education and health insurance.

“Thanks to these projects, they have helped raise the self-esteem among poor women and vulnerable children,” said Happiness Peter, deputy chairperson of Matumaini Mapya. “These projects have been of an immense benefit for the community.”

Through networks established with USAID’s help, the organization has set the goal of reaching 1,200 orphans and vulnerable children by 2016; 500 have been reached to date. In addition to directly supporting the basic needs of vulnerable people, Matumaini Mapya informs caregivers about the importance of children's education and helps communities address their own needs and track their progress over time.


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