Where We Work
Tanzania is a country of extremes. Despite political stability and strong economic growth, more than quarter of the population remain under the international poverty line, earning less than $1.70 per day. In rural areas, such as Nkoaranga where TST is based, it isn’t uncommon to find large families trying to survive on much less. Added to the financial instability, mothers in Tanzania have a significantly increased risk of dying in childbirth. These two issues often result in parents – often single after an untimely death or divorce – trying to keep their family together in extremely trying circumstances.
It is believed that more than 24,000 children live in orphanages in Tanzania, though it has been difficult to establish the correct figure due to poor reporting and unregistered organizations. A large proportion of these children are in care for economic reasons. With education so highly valued in Tanzania, struggling single parents who want the best for their child often see orphanage care as the only opportunity for their child to be educated, housed and fed. Once a child is in an orphanage, however, it becomes very difficult for an economically struggling family to bring them back home. While many orphanage founders are well-intentioned, their institutions often don’t follow best practises, aren’t fully integrated into the community, and end up relying on short-term, foreign volunteers for basic childcare and financial support. This leads to insecure attachment and long-term psychological difficulties for the children involved.
At The Small Things, we believe poverty alone is never an acceptable reason for a child to live in an orphanage. While we recognize the value of best-practise residential care as a last resort, we know the best place for a child is with a loving family. With the support of our donors, TST’s programs empower families to lift themselves out of poverty and become self-sufficient through the creation of sustainable businesses. And when a child has no safe place to go, we provide a loving home at Happy Family Children’s Village and work tirelessly to return them to their family, the best place for them to thrive.