From 24 November to 9 December 2009, I visit three projects in Mwanza, including the Street Children Project Upendo Daima.
The first few days I stay with Marga and Hoja in their recently built house in Malimbe. From the kitchen window you can see the kibanda from Malimbe Family, but regrettably the neighbours are building a student hostel in their garden, and soon the kibanda won’t be visible anymore. This brings me straight away on a new problem for MF. Because of the expansion of the university, numerous hostels are appearing out of nowhere, and the surrounding looks quite different from the time I walked around in 2003. There are more people but there is also an increased risk for thefts. The students are using the boys for all kinds of jobs, and it is necessary that MF is being protected by a compound wall. Only guard dogs are not sufficient anymore. From the living room window you look into the garden where Hoja has built a seizable shed for ducks and chicken. At the moment there are many chicks, but soon the eggs have to be collected. From the terrace you have a beautiful view of the front garden, where you can already enjoy the colourful tropical flowers. (picture?)
During my stay I visit MF but many children have gone home since it is holiday. The children are yelling when Marga arrives with her car, and you see happy faces everywhere. I see Mathias, but regrettably the operation has not yet yielded the results they had expected, and a second operation is possibly required. The maise has already grown a fair bit. It is a pity that one of the kibanda’s needs to be replaced because the termites have eaten most of the poles. (Picture?)
This visit also gives me the opportunity to interview Isabella, the Finance and Administrative Manager, and Sister Monica, the Centre Manager of the Back Home House. Jointly we also have some discussions about a number of topics. The BHH looks good and the construction of the dormitory is progressing well. A new drainage system needs to be installed, because the groundwater level remains too high.
With the management team and Josta ten Broeke, who works for Cordaid, we have a kind of a marathon meeting….with a lot of brainstorming and it is clear that a more structured plan for the future needs to be developed. The project is running already for ten years and the most recent developments with the larger boys in MF, as well as the experiences in the BHH, make it clear that a comprehensive plan for the future needs to be made.
Mwanza becomes bigger and bigger, and even has traffic jams, but there are also more street children. There is an ever increasing task for Upendo Daima, and the networking activities which are actively being pursued by Hoja, are becoming more and more important, to ensure that Upendo Daima will be able to take care of these children, and to assure that there will be a future for them in which they will have an equal opportunity to live a normal life.