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Published: June 30th 2008
Tanzania is among the poorest countries in the world. A few stats - the national budget is roughly one-ninth that of BC and 1/138 th that of Canada. Close to 40% of the population is considered to be malnourished. Foreign governments and agencies through grants and loans provide roughly 45% of the national budget. With so little ‘disposable income’ the Tanzanian government is in no position to finance a social safety net for its 40 million or so citizens of the type we enjoy in Canada. As a result, Tanzania is awash in non-governmental organizations (NGOs), faith based organizations (FBOs) and other agencies such as the UN who all play a part in providing aid and social services to the population. In and around Dodoma every day we see buildings and vehicles operated by World Vision, Africaid, Actionaid, UNICEF, World Food Plan, Plan International, the Aga Kahn Foundation, numerous Christian organizations, Habitat For Humanity, and more.
But not all NGOs are big. Since coming to Dodoma, we have been fortunate to get to know a husband and wife who are principals in a relatively small, Italian based NGO called Kisedet. The acronym stands for Kigwe Social Economic Development and Training.
To quote their website in part, ‘The Kisedet Project was born in Kigwe Village in 1998… The aim of the organization is to help orphan children, disabled children or children coming from the poorest families of the Dodoma rural region. This aim should be reached by … activities which encourage school learning and improve living conditions of the children and their families… This is the main project around which Kisedet builds all other activities.’
Kisedet’s projects are centred in Kigwe village, roughly 30 km from Dodoma, but can also be found in a number of other villages in the immediate area and in Dodoma itself. At Kigwe, Kisedet operates a vocational training centre where young people are given the opportunity to learn agriculture, carpentry, tailoring and other skills.
Gerry and I have visited Kigwe and have also visited the Shukurani Orphanage, a Kisedet project here in Dodoma. Shukurani, Swahili for thanks or gratitude, is home to 35 boys and girls, ages 5 to 16. When the young people grow up and cannot live at Shukurani anymore, they have the opportunity to move on to the Kigwe vocational centre. Apart from material needs such as food, shelter and
school uniforms, Shukurani provides a secure and caring place for these young people to live and to grow. There is a genuine family feeling to Shukarani - certainly nothing fancy, just caring adults, healthy children and smiling faces. Living in the compound at Shukurani is an elderly lady who, we were told, came with the property. No one is sure where she came from; she was there when the orphanage was established. She speaks a language that no one understands, but lack of a common language did not prevent her from welcoming us enthusiastically and engaging in a cheerful and animated conversation.
Kisedet is just one of so many excellent projects where rather ordinary people decided they wanted to see what they could do to improve the lot of the less advantaged. They have followed through on their desire to help and in the process, improved the lives of many children and families. Hope you enjoy the snaps from Kigwe and Shukurani.
As we will be taking a holiday in July there will be no July blog. We hope to be back on the air with a blog entry at the end of August. See you then and
Happy Canada Day!
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