By Stefan Lallinger, Ajminder Dhani and Lindsey Jones
March 27, 1998
Tanzania is a poor country. A lot of the families are very poor. Most of their houses are made of mud, sticks and animal dung so the mixture is strong enough to hold out the rain. The roofs are either made out of straw or tin. The Tanzanian families rely on good weather so that their crops will grow well. In Tanzania the weather is very unreliable. For example, last year in the rainy seasons the rain did not come and many plants died. Early this year (1998) the rains lasted for much longer then they were supposed to, and many houses were washed away.
Most families don't have clean water. They must get their water from the rivers which is not so clean either. They can get diseases from the dirty water. One common disease is cholera. As we told you the weather is unreliable, so sometimes the rivers are dried out. They have to walk miles to fetch water. They have to carry it in a bucket on their head.
When they get food which they rarely do they have to cook it. For cooking they need fuel, charcoal or kerosene. In addition they need wood. The items we listed are too expensive for them to buy. If they want to chop wood they have to walk for miles because wood is very hard to find and in addition they have to carry it the whole way back. In Tanzania there are a lot of buses but most people cannot afford it. Some people can't even afford a bicycle.
One of the main problems in Tanzania is the health/medicine. Poor people either can't afford to go to hospitals when they are sick or they do not know about any hospitals that are free. Even if they can't go to the hospital and they know which medicine to take they can't afford to buy it. Even if people can afford to go to a hospital the hospitals here are not in such good condition so they might not even get treated well there.
Important messages are sent by foot and not by mail. That way all important business is always done late which actually should be done early. Sending and receiving messages is not so popular because the people can not afford to send them.
In the villages children are not well educated because the parents can't afford the good schools. So the village children go to the schools which are very poor, those schools sometimes don't have desks, books or any furniture at all. A lot of the teachers of these poor schools keep discipline by beating the children. This has no effect because the children get used to being beaten up so they get worse. One other reason is that beating is not effective is that it will make them scared of going to school. Then they will get the wrong idea what education is about. The children who don't get a chance of going to school must stay home and work for the family.
The reason why the street children run away from home is because of these 'normal' problems that they have had with their own families and then they choose to run away and to have a life on their own. Another one of the main reasons they run away from home is because of their step father/mother who make them work hard and not pay or feed them well. Then later on the step parents sometimes even kick them out of their house. The last reason that street children are away from their family is because they think their family would do better without him or her. Most of the time it is boys that are kicked out of the family or decides to go away from home instead of girls going away or being kicked out. At least we have never seen a female streetchild in this country. They could end up as thieves or gangsters who deal with drugs, alcohol and smoking. Then these gangsters and thieves get in to major trouble with the police. Smaller street children depend on the big bullies because of safety. The bigger kids usually tell the smaller children to do things for them. If a streetchild is lucky he or rarely her will find out about a center that takes care, gives lessons, gives food and shelter for them to stay. The centers help the children to learn and have a better chance of getting a job later. One center that does this is a center called Mkombozi.
At the Mkombozi center they concentrate
a lot on education. The children who go to the Mkombozi center get
meals when they attend the daily lessons. During the lessons the
children are not only taught things like Math, Reading etc..... but they
are also taught what they call Life Skills. Life Skills is a class
where the kids learn what you learn when you are at home, like brushing
your teeth. They also learn how to participate in events that you
and I attend such as a wedding and a funeral. These are things that
they would never learn just sitting out on the street. There is also
a competition at in the Mkombozi center where people give the streetkids
a certain kind of ticket for 2oo Tshillings, and at the end of the month
if one child raises around 30 tickets then they get a piece of light clothing.
At Mkombozi the children are given a chance to a good future with a well
paid job. Streetchildren who do not go to Mkombozi do not get a chance
for such a nice future. That is why people start centers like Mkombozi.