Tumaini is the Swahili word for Hope – it is also the name of a charity that seeks to alleviate the terrible suffering of Aids widows and orphans in Kagera, the most North-West province of Tanzania. Figures are unreliable, but average life expectancy there is 43 years, HIV carriage is thought to be 28% with, perhaps, 1 in 3 Mother’s delivering babies being HIV positive, a subsistence farmer will earn in the region of $110 each year, with which to support 6-8 family members. There may be 200,000 orphans in this region.
Tanzania is one of the 10 poorest countries in the world as measured by most poverty indices. Most of the wealth is concentrated around Dar es Salaam, the capital, in the SE of the country…the province of Kagera, being in the far North-West, (bordering Burundi, Rwanda, Uganda and Lake Victoria, with Congo close by), is furthest from the source of wealth, so it is one of its poorest regions and the AIDS widows and orphans are the poorest section of this community…. the poorest of the poor.
Subsistence farming is not a good way to survive, especially with climate change and unpredictable rains. Education is the only way to get out of this hand-to-mouth existence. Primary schooling is free in Tanzania, but children cannot enroll unless they have school uniforms, books and pencils. This prices education out of reach for a lot of subsistence farmers’ children and makes it impossible for sick widows’ children, or children in child-headed families.
Water sources are foul and a long way from the villages and such water is used for cleaning and cooking, and the ponds are used by animals and humans alike. Dysentery is common. Infant mortality in Kagera is 12%: 12 infants in every 100 born die before 1 year of age, usually due to gastroenteritis.
Housing is basic wattle and daub, clay or dung, and the roofs of grass or banana-leaves cannot withstand the heavy rains that occur twice a year. Whole families share a single room and cooking in the same house creates a real health and fire hazard. There are few facilities for the collection of seasonal rainwater.
Children are called Aid’s orphans if one parent has died from Aids, as the other parent will, by definition, be becoming ill themselves. Tumaini tries to lengthen their time with their children, by improving their health and life circumstances…the children just want to have their Mom or Dad with them for a bit longer and, as Tumaini works with the family, the parent will come to know that, after their death, their children will be supported… at the death of the parent we promote the children’s rights to their parents’ small-holding and support the family as a child-headed unit.
"Religion that our God and Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world."
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