the foundation for tomorrow (TFFT) partners with eight orphanages in tanzania. while i was there, i had the opportunity to visit four of the eight partner orphanages -- nkoaranga orphanage, matonyok children's home, seeway tanzania and irente children's home. each orphanage has their unique aspects. each orphanage is magnificent and special. NKOARANGA ORPHANAGE houses a maximum of 30 children, ages four and younger. the orphanage is run by two to four "mamas" -- whose constant hard work, dedication, commitment and love is beyond anything i could possibly put into words. unfortunately i didn't have the opportunity to meet mama pendo, who has been running the orphanage for over 20 years, as she was at a computer class the day of my visit.
nkoaranga was probably the orphanage that needed assistance / volunteers the most (of the four orphanages i saw), due to ages of the children and the amount of work that the "mamas" are responsible for each day (laundry, cooking, water boiling, feedings, cleaning, diaper changing, etc.) -- the necessary tasks to simply sustain life's basic needs at the orphanage.
MATONYAK CHILDREN'S HOME houses approximately 25-35 children. the home was started by a husband and wife team, emmy and ndemno, (now in their 60s), who are two of the most amazing and giving people i have ever met. it all started with bringing one child into their tiny two-room home. and ever since, their house and their children have continued to expand. ndemno farms for a living and their land is incredible. they have chickens and goats. they a massive rain water collector and solar panels on one of their buildings. they convert manure into methane (which they use to cook with) and fertilizer. everything is so clean, well-maintained and organized. the children all sleep in two bedrooms (8 beds & a couple cribs). emmmy and ndemno know the importance of education and have hired a teacher to teach first grade in a classroom on their land. the older children (grades two - five) are currently sponsored to attend a nearby day school. emmy and ndemno hope to continue to build up their school (one grade at a time), ensuring their school provides quality education.
SEEWAY TANZANIA was founded in 2006 by two amazing, giving women, rebecca and wendy. they have created an incredibly clean and beautiful environment for 16 vulnerable children (ages 4 and older). they not only provide a safe, loving home for their children, but also education (via funding boarding school), health care and a creative outlet through organized music lessons. on the compound, they have a large garden, a chicken project (selling eggs) and a nursery school / day care (for 40 two-to-six year olds).
IRENTE CHILDREN'S HOME is an incredible orphanage run by simon's grandmother, sister enna (simon is the 16-year-old TFFT student, who was selected to ride this year). irente children's home is not only a impressive, loving orphanage, it also manages an amazing training program for young women, who are interested in becoming matrons of orphanages. they also have a massive garden and a cow, which supplies much of the orphanages fruits, vegetables and milk.
HOW CAN YOU HELP? a simple way to help is to donate directly to TFFT. each year TFFT sets aside a specific amount of their annual budget ($8000 this year) that goes directly to helping their partner orphanages, e.g. improving the facilities, building capacity among their staff, etc. TFFT requests that the orphanages submit ideas as to what they need, want, can use, etc.
HOW DOES TFFT DECIDE each year which children to select / sponsor into the program? over the years, they have leaned heavily on the administrators of the orphanages to assist the foundation in selecting the children. but some general guiding criteria are --
for the younger children, they base the decision on sheer need, looking at such things as: - family background - do they have any relatives? - if they do have relatives, can they possibly support the child? - if a child has no living relatives, TFFT believes that including him / her in the program is the safest bet for the child to have a viable chance of living a successful life within the tanzanian community.
for the older children, the foundation not only looks at their family circumstances, but also at their school records and their desire to be something, lead and excel.
there's an estimated 2 million-plus orphans in tanzania and only 50 (or so) orphanages (providing care to less than 3,000 of the population's orphans and vulnerable children). it's such a painful thought!! so many orphans, who have no other option but to live in the bush and streets of tanzania -- no home, no parents, little-to-no clothing, food and water. so incredibly sad!
ETA: to adopt a Tanzanian child, you have to live in the country for three years.