What we do? – Serving on the front line

by ACT

  • Posted on February 2, 2018

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(L to R – Stella (J&P Project Officer); Paulina (volunteer Ruziba village); Fr. Honaratus (J&P Director)

… Insight into our operations overseas: Justice and Peace, Tanzania

A common question many of our supporters and others who have shown an interest in our work ask is this:

“How do you select which children and widows you support and how do you go about the task of educating and carrying for them in the different countries where ACT works”

These are valid questions, particularly given that there has been a steady rise in the numbers of children we are supporting in Africa, nearly four hundred (400) in the past 3 months.

Partnership is at the core of how ACT operates in the countries of Africa where we work. Currently we are working with 12 partners across 8 countries.  Our partners in Africa are at the fore front of the work we do. They are the people serving on the front line in the battle to rescue the disadvantaged children, orphans and the widows we support in their communities to deliver them out of poverty. It is no small task.

Our partners are typically faith based organisations that are established and well known in their communities for their work to help development in their community. One such organisation is Justice and Peace (J&P), based in the small town of Biharamulo and working across a number of districts in Kagera region in north east Tanzania. ACT and J&P have been working together since 2013.

Led by the Director Fr. Honoratus and assisted by Project Officer, Stella, J&P are overseeing ACT support for three hundred and twelve (312) children and two hundred and ninety six (296) widows and guardians in two districts, Biharamulo and Chato, and covering eighteen villages. Day to day oversight for the children and widows in each village is provided by volunteer Care Team members. The volunteers reside in the villages and are usually people in employment such as teachers or government social care workers. They carry out their services unpaid, but ACT provides them with bicycles so that they can visit the families we support who may be spread out across long distances within the village.

In his role as Director of J&P, Fr. Honoratus provides oversight and has responsibility for managing the ACT support programme and the administration that provides the care, welfare and protection for the children and widows. He liaises regularly with UK ACT Director and ensures that the progress of the work in his area is reported in a timely way.

Project Officer, Stella, carries out periodic visit to monitor the activities of the volunteers in the 18 villages and uses her visit to meet the children and widows in their homes to check on their health, welfare and psychological well-being which is a crucial part of the work. Many of the widows carry emotional scars and it is important that the Widow’s project not only helps them to generate income in a sustainable way, mainly through the animal rearing project, but also provides counselling and emotional support. The income generation scheme provides widowed mothers with livestock, goat or pig, for rearing. They generate income from the sale of the off springs.  On her visits, she also drops in at the schools the children attend to meet teachers and obtain academic and performance reports of the children.  This is included with the termly (four monthly) reports she sends to ACT in the UK. She maintains a database that charts the educational attainment of each of the children. In doing so, she is able to relay critical information that allows ACT to make any needed adjustments to the benefit of each child. For example, she discovered the challenge some of the children faced walking nearly 8 kilometres each way to and from school.  This led to ACT procuring bicycles for those children, which reduced lateness and even absenteeism from school.

Paulina is one of the village volunteers, based in Ruziba village, Biharamulo district. She works closely with Stella and they will usually be on the phone each week to provide updates about the children and widows in the village. She reports about any incidences, sickness in the family or even birth or death of livestock. Paulina is thrilled that the children and widows she oversee are getting their needs met. This has changed the attitude of the villagers to the children and widows. Rather than seeing them as destitute living on good will of neighbours, they are now considered important members of the community and through them development opportunities, such as ACT support for the local school, have come to their village.  In these rural farming communities, the provision of livestock for each ACT supported family has in particular, raised the status of the widows and orphans. They are no longer seen as poor.

Partnership is at the centre of our work in rural Africa. How so fortunate we are to have wonderful, dedicated people, such as Honoratus, Stella and  Paulina serving at the front line and bringing about change for the better for those most in need.

To find out more about ACT and how you can support our work, please click here.

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