Vijaliwa Vingi Outreach Program

Our experience in Dar es Salaam taught us that a much more practical approach to addressing the problems faced by street children was to work towards prevention: reducing the number of children entering street life meant reducing the overwhelming need for rescue and rehabilitation. Life outside the city provides a positive environment for the children, and there we have been able to initiate a long-term outreach program designed to help families to help themselves, their children and/or the children in their care forge a better life: the Extended Family Empowerment Program.

The overall goal of the Extended Family Empowerment Program is to help families who are trying to support children in extremely difficult circumstances to achieve a higher standard of living and thus prevent children from leaving home to pursue a perceived better life. Those families who can least afford to feed additional mouths often shoulder the burden of caring for AIDS orphans, particularly in the village where economics are stacked against such disadvantaged families.

Extended Family Empowerment Program

In February 2006, Vijaliwa Vingi was partnered in a village Outreach Program named the “Extended Family Empowerment Program” with Plan International, which originated in Canada in the 1960's as “Foster Parents Plan”. The Program aims to improve the lives of children living in difficult circumstances by increasing the capability of families caring for children, including families

1) supporting orphans, 2) living with AIDS, 3) headed by single mothers, 4) where grandparents are caring for grandchildren, 5) caring for disabled persons, and especially 6) sibling families or child-headed households.

Lynda with volunteers from the village.

By July 2006, this outreach program had registered 1,058 families who support orphans in their homes (this includes single mom families, a few sibling families, grandparents caring for grandkids, and families whose members are disabled).

This program also put on 32 ‘one day’ seminars for the ‘heads of households’, and the attendance percentage went from a surprisingly high 70% to an astonishing 92% for the last set of 8 seminars on Positive Parenting.

After the original registration project was complete, in late 2007/2008 CanaDares funded a 6-month support program for the beneficiary group of AIDS patients (PLWHA). The aim of the project was to create a support group which might continue on as a self-help group. The activities of the project included regular educational seminars and a truly enriching food preparation event in which the group worked together over a 10-day period to prepare 200kg of nutritional porridge powder (lishe) for their own consumption. The group continues meeting monthly at our office in Mlandizi, and in the future, the program will be greatly expanded when the medical facility at Msongola is complete.

Outreach Plans for 2009

We are planning more Outreach programs for 2009. To begin with, thanks to a generous outreach donation to CanaDares, there will be an update and addition to the registration of many local village children living in difficult circumstances and their primary caregivers. The 2009 program will up-date the outreach program already done in the original ward of Mlandizi “B”, and expand into Mlandizi “A” in the recently designated rural Kibaha District in the Pwani Region.

This registration process identifies “Children living in difficult circumstances”, primarily those identified by the Government of Tanzania and UNICEF as “Orphans and Vulnerable Children” (OVC) along with their parents, families and/or guardians. The target population being children within poverty stricken families who are identified by trained village volunteer outreach workers. These families will be supporting:

A) orphans in addition to the caregivers’ natural children;
B) HIV/AIDS patients and other disabled individuals of any age;
C) children of single mothers;
D) children of the missing generation where elders are the primary caregivers;
E) multiple generations;
F) child-headed households. And, we have added the following:
G) families, especially with many children, living in extreme poverty.

After the children and their families are identified; they are the beneficiaries of donations of resources and capacity building seminars to support them in caring for these children. The Vijaliwa Vingi Society submits proposals to large charities asking for resources for these identified families. The CanaDares Society also fundraises to provide help for these families.

The process of the Outreach registration update/addition program is:

i) identification by village leaders of families with children in desperate need;
ii) training of village volunteer field workers for registration (all volunteers receive a small travel/food payment);
iii) registration of new beneficiaries and confirmation of the status of existing beneficiaries through home visits (needs assessment); and
iv) community meetings to share the results of the program.

The Management Plan: An integrated approach including members of the villages, the local government, staff and management of Vijaliwa Vingi Society, local and international NGO’s and the government of Tanzania. Monitoring and evaluation to be an integral part of the imbedded transparency and accountability policy of the program, carried out on a regular and controlled basis over the duration of the proposed project.

The Challenge: To re-ignite the Outreach program which has the potential of prevention and reduction of the incidents of children being deprived of their basic rights, through lack of capacity in the households in which they are living; the prevention of HIV/AIDS; and the prevention of children leaving their homes to live on the streets through Poverty Reduction at the grassroots level.

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