Upendo Daima - Project for Street Children Tanzania

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Back Home House

The Back Home House (BHH) is a center for the care and re-integration of 30 street children in the age range of 8 till 14 years. The main objective is to re-unify the boys with their families in the society where they come from.

BHHThe children can stay here during the day and night for some two to three months and receive care and guidance. Through this intensive form of care the chances of success for a new future with their families increases. The Center Manager is Amon J. Semberya. The house is located in a quiet area at the outskirts of the town, a nice spot with lots of space. There are a number of facilities: a large room where they have their meals, a classroom, sleeping space for the children and the staff, a kitchen, an office and rooms for counseling. Of course there are also sanitary facilities and a playing area.

Street work
Three times a week they carry out street work. A good cooperation has been developed with the Railway Children of Africa Foundation and other, similar organisations active with street work. They motivate the children to go to the Back Home House. Therefore every week a few new children arrive in the BHH. There is also a cooperation with other organisations in Mwanza that work with vulnerable children.

Care
During the three months that the children stay in the Back Home House, they are helped with their problems through counseling and trauma healing. Their addiction to drugs and/or alcohol is being addressed and through good medical care and good food the physical condition improves considerably. In this period they can already get used to a more regular life. Another important subjects that gets full attention are the basic competences like reading, writing and arithmetic because the child will have to start going to a primary school.  Through this intensive form of care the chances of success for a successful re-unification with their families increases.

There are personnel files containing all details, including the reasons the child has run away: violence, incest or the fact that the parents are divorced or have died.
All the children are looking for a better future.
In 2012 and 2013 there were on average 30 children in the BHH.

Back Home
Our objective is to re-unify all the children. We check the home situation of the child and the reason that the child went to the street. Once the child is ready and really wants to return home, one of the staff members accompanies the boy going home. Because the children come from far away and the road conditions are often poor this is quite an undertaking. But it is worth doing! When it is not possible to go back home, we look for solutions in cooperation with the family and the family is assisted with the preparation for the return of the child.  When this does not succeed we look for a foster family in the social environment where the child came from. Our other center Malimbe Family offers a limited opportunity to look after a child that really cannot return to his own family at all.

Social work at Upendo Daima

Social work at Upendo Daima
Back Home House (BHH) is a centre which works with vulnerable children working and living on streets. The goal is to reunify these children with their families. Below you will find a summary of two activities done by (street work and home visits) and challenges faced by social work. For more detailed information, please refer to attached report.

Street work
BHH Social Workers (SWs) visit Mwanza City streets twice a week (one time during the day and one time at night). Children live most of their time in areas where they can get something for their daily livelihood, and this is where the SW’s go to talk to them.

Street children have a perception that they are isolated by the community. They have experienced various discriminative actions from their parents/relatives/adults. Sometimes they have lost trust in adults. Therefore it is very important that the SWs establish a relationship of trust with them. Sometimes it is not easy because some of the children are addicted to street life. These have already moved to various cities and towns in Tanzania and have been abused in various ways. SWs take the children who are ready to go back home to BHH for a temporal stay and full counselling. Others who are not ready are left on streets but further meetings with them in next days continue.

All children take to BHH must be registered at Government offices. All children are also registered in BHH in the roll call book and on intake and basic information forms. Getting the basic information of the children is the initial step for counselling process in BHH.

Street work is among the most challenging activities for SWs. SWs face many challenges on streets, such as:

  • children being addicted to street life (and using drugs or sniffing glue or petrol)
  • children being used by adults to generate income (short term promises make the child blind for the future)
  • the negative perception of people towards street children
  • the physical and sexual abuse by the older children of the younger children
  • police raids, as a result of which the children hide
  • during school holidays many children end up on the street, either by themselves or because their family sends them to make some money, it is then difficult to distinguish them from the real street children

Home visits
After counselling, when the child is ready to go home, home visits are performed by SWs, usually the child accompanies the SW on this visit. There will be a discussion on whether it is possible for the child to go home. If a child is reunited follow up visits will be done. If a child cannot return home (because the parents refuse or the home situation is deemed not adequate) he will come back to BHH and further counselling will be done, also with the family, and attempts are made to identify possible other relatives where the child could stay. If no possibility, the child will be moved to Malimbe Family, where he can attend formal schooling. Even while at Malimbe Family, every effort is made to reintegrate the child with his family.

Challenges faced with home visits:

  • sometimes the child does not tell the truth where he comes from
  • many children come from rural areas far away from main roads, so it is very difficult to reach their house
  • Children come often from one-parent households, whereby the new partner does not like to take care of children from a previous partner. If the child is orphaned it becomes even more difficult.
  • Substance abuse by the parent(s)
  • Local taboos in some tribes

For some case studies, please refer to attached report.

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Back Home House

Malimbe Family