The Building a Caring Community project began in Moshi, Tanzania in October 2007. This is the first IMPACT project that was developed with a Lutheran partner ... the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Tanzania, Northern Diocese.
The project was designed to provide much-needed services to children with disabilities and their families through the creation of neighborhood centers and in-home support services. By opening the neighborhood centers, mothers, aunts and other caregivers are now able to have a safe and nurturing setting where their children can go while they work and earn money for food, shelter and other basic needs. Services are provided at no cost to the caregivers so they may use their earnings to fully support the health and well-being of their children.
One key aspect of the project is that it empowers women by providing training and employment opportunities for three divergent groups identified by the Northern Diocese. These three groups include mothers of children with disabilities, widows, and elderly persons who were often unemployed or not able to make a living wage doing limited farm work, bartering goods/services, etc. prior to receiving supports through this project.
The Building a Caring Community project also has impacted the community at large by confronting stereotypes of individuals with disabilities through project and parish outreach. Educational presentations and discussions have occurred throughout the diocese with positive results. As a result, volunteers have emerged to work in the centers -- a positive and unanticipated benefit. When the project was first conceptualized, we never dreamed it would be as far along as it is today. The project staff are truly at the heart of all the successes achieved to date. Outreach efforts have far exceeded our expectations, and families and children with disabilities are now receiving supports that have enriched their lives.
There are currently eleven centers in operation, serving approximately 242 children. In addition, 236 families have received support services. While there are many examples, see below about how the project has changed the life of Elly.
To see the children and the project for yourself, watch Building A Caring Community ... one person at a time.
Elly is an 18-year old girl living in Moshi, Tanzania. Her family always thought of her as a burden because of her intellectual disabilities. When her family went to work each day, Elly was left unattended and roamed about the village. Concerned for her safety, the family decided to tether Elly with a metal chain within their yard. Unfortunately, this left her exposed to weather and other dangers. Elly's home lies next to a railroad track, accessed by dirt roads, and the mere task of getting water involves a ten-minute walk to the nearest well.
Last spring, staff from the Building a Caring Community project heard about Elly's situation and paid a visit. With guidance from project staff, it was arranged for Elly to attend the Pasua Parish Center. Elly is learning how to tend a garden, take care of her personal needs, and is also learning how to read. While at the Center, she receives targeted therapies, enjoys nourishing meals, and is thriving within a safe environment. The project staff also provide in-home supports for the family. These services have greatly enhanced the family's quality of life. In particular, the time Elly spends at the Center eases her mother's stress and worries which allows her to focus on her work and their economic situation.
Elly is now safe and flourishing; her life is filled with opportunities that she might have never had without , the support of the Building a Caring Community project.