Wednesday, 10 September 2014

Supporting vulnerable girls in Tabora, and BINGO, Tanzanian style

Rebuilding confidence through games...

Philemon Boyo is one reason why working with Tanzania Development Trust is so rewarding.  He works tirelessly, for no money, to nurture and support vulnerable girls in his neighbourhood in Tabora.

Together with 60 other volunteers he has set up Fair Education and Information Centre, FADICE, They work here seven days a week teaching vulnerable girls skills in tailoring, rearing chickens and
horticulture so they can help support themselves and in many cases their dependent children.

Challenges are huge.  Many of the girls are traumatised by the abuse they have suffered so much of FADICE's work is to rebuild their confidence and self esteem.  Sometimes girls get so depressed by the poverty and challenge in their lives they lose hope, but Philemon does not give up on them.

We visited some of the girls in their homes, together with
some girls still in primary school that Philemon is concerned about.  One of them, Mary, is 13 year old HIV positive orphan, living with her grandmother.  We visited mainly as a signal to the surrounding community that FADICE is looking out for her and if anyone causes her harm they will be answerable to them.

Evelyn is a single parent looking after her 4 children alone after her abusive husband disappeared, plus her dead sister's child.  She had her first child at 13 and cannot read or write.  She scrapes an existence using small scale loans of £1.50 to make snacks to sell door to door.  This is via a Womens' Entrepeneur Group also supported by FADICE.

You may think such work would be demoralising, but Philemon was permanently positive, with an infectious laugh and ready humour.

On my last day FADICE organised a party for the girls and their care
givers.  I was guest of honour and was serenaded in and out of the room and had to lead the dancing!

The climax of the party was a game of BINGO, Tanzanian style.  Rather than lines and numbers, this turned out to be a raucous game involving running around and then suddenly hurling yourselves into groups of a specified number.  Not understanding Swahili I was at rather a disadvantage, but it didn't seem to matter.

Philemon uses this game, and others, to build cooperation, thinking skills and self esteem, and also, just for fun.. He explains, happily, that the girls are unrecognisable from when they started at the centre 2 months ago.

You can find out about more about this and other Tanzania Development Trust projects here and my full itinerary is here.

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