At Walk In Love, family preservation is one of our primary goals.
At just 17 years old, Mama R moved from her village to the city of Arusha (Population 1 million) in search of work. She was able to secure a stable, but low paying, job at a local factory. Shortly afterwards she found herself pregnant and her boyfriend quickly abandoned her and their unborn child. With no family in Arusha she felt helpless and unsure of how she could provide for her baby. Once Baby R was born, her mama struggled to produce enough breastmilk because she herself was malnourished. She was frantic to return to work so that she could provide for her family. However, she had no one to take care of her infant. When Baby R was 3 months old, Mama R found a neighbor who was willing to watch her baby during the day. However, after a few weeks Baby R had lost a significant amount of weight, was listless, and covered in skin rashes. Mama R recounts how she had sought out an orphanage, but that she was broken-hearted to think of never seeing her daughter. It was at this time that Mama R met Glory, the manager of the Kisongo Center. Glory immediately helped to enroll Baby R in the Walk In Love Daycare program and Mama R was able to return to work confident that her daughter was being well fed and cared for in a loving environment. Since Baby R joined the Kisongo Center family, she has gained almost 10 pounds. She is a now happy and thriving 7-month-old girl.
This is why we do what we do.
We have two main projects in operation, the first being our daycare center project. We are currently operating two daycare centers in the Arusha area of Tanzania where we provide high quality, low cost daycare to at-risk families.
Our first center, the Kisongo Center, was opened in January of 2018. It currently employees six staff and has 35 children enrolled. We opened this center with the belief that daycare was one of the primary resources needed to help families stay together and thrive. We specifically targeted single parent families, families in poverty that would benefit from both parents working, and families in the process of reunification. In only three weeks, our first center was full and with a waiting list. Daycare is a resource that has been completely out of reach to the working class in Tanzania. Many times families, especially single parent families, have turned to orphanages to take their young children (ages 0-5) whenever they could no longer stay home to care for them. With daycare, parents know that they can bring their child to a safe place where they will be well cared for and fed. Parents are able to work with peace of mind, knowing that their young child is safe. This changes the dynamic for the whole family and everyone starts to thrive.
We have done an informal survey of the families in our center and out of 52 families, 61% reported either moving from unemployed to employed or seeing a significant increase in earnings because of having childcare available.
In May of 2018 we opened our second center, this one is called the Market Center. This center was opened in direct response to the Ministry of Social Welfare of Tanzania recognizing the impact that our Kisongo Center was having, and asking us to open a second center closer to the city food market. We opened the Market Center in one of the most disadvantaged areas of Arusha. In this center we have children who have been able to come out of orphanage care because they could attend the daycare while their parents were working. Daycare seems like such a simple resource, but the impact is huge. Between the two centers we have 60 children enrolled. We are committed to keeping kids out of orphanages by providing the resources families need to thrive.
Our second project is Maisha Matters. Maisha Matters is a program developed by the orphanage Forever Angels in Mwanza, Tanzania. We are the second satellite program for Maisha Matters and follow the curriculum designed by Forever Angels. They have agreed to support us by paying for the needed milk formula for a period of two years. Maisha Matters is a program for both malnourished children and children who do not have a lactating mother. We work closely with hospitals in the area to identify children who need nutritional support. Most of these children are babies who have lost their mother during childbirth. These children are being raised by a family member, usually a grandmother, aunt or father. In Tanzania, all formula is imported and costs $15 per small tin, which makes it completely unaffordable to the general population. Without Maisha Matters, these children would likely all end up in an orphanage. We also support mothers of multiples, who are not able to produce enough breastmilk for multiple children. Maisha Matters is a 12 month program where parents come to weekly classes to learn about hygiene, disease prevention, child development and safety. Throughout the program their child is weighed to make sure they are growing over the course of the program and, and after 6 months, families that qualify are eligible for small business grants. The goal of Maisha Matters is to have completely independent, thriving, healthy families.