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KWETU newsletter, August 2002

This is the third newsletter about the Kwetu Mbagala Girls Home.

The first was published in 2000 as an introduction to the project, the background and the concept. This publication was circulated while the home was under construction.

The second newsletter appeared in 2001. It contains descriptions of the opening and the first months in the life of the home. A few case stories give a picture of the sort of life many young children face in Tanzania. This is a period of settling in, of establishing and developing the new environment, of creating warmth and trust, and at the same time developing the professional methods and routines It is also a period of discovery. The newsletter describes how the girls respond and some of the hurdles which are met along the way.

This is then the third newsletter. The Kwetu Mbagala Girls Home has been running since December 2000, a period of about a year and a half. Again there are three articles: one gives a short description of the project and the organisations behind it for those readers who do not yet know it; another describes the daily work with the girls and experiences made with the reunification programme; the third points to the gravity of the situation facing the nation - the enormous number of children living in difficult circumstances is still growing as a result of poverty and the HIV/AIDS epidemic.

This newsletter provides readers with insight into the plight of children living in difficult circumstances in Tanzania. Kwetu Mbagala Girls Home is the result of the conviction that something can be done and must be done to reverse the situation. However modest our contribution, we hope that our work will be an inspiration to others.

August 2002

KWETU background information.
By Oswald Malunda, project manager, SA Headquarters

A few years ago orphans, street girls, child prostitutes and other young girls living under difficult circumstances were not issues of concern for many organisations and families in Tanzania.
The HIV/AIDS epidemic, broken homes and other social problems contributed to the collapse of the traditional support systems and the consequent migration of many young girls to the big cities like Dar es Salaam and Mwanza.
The Salvation Army is one of the organisations which is highly concerned about the migration of young girls to the cities, for many of these girls later become street girls and commercial sex workers (CSWs).
The Army through Kwetu Counselling Centre worked with commercial sex workers in Dar es Salaam City for seven years. Through its involvement with the CSWs the Army discovered that street girls and other girls living in difficult circumstances were as widespread in the city as the CWS.
Many of these girls are HIV/AIDS orphans, some are from single parent families, some were working as house girls and later abused sexually by their masters, others had run away from home because of poverty in the family or other family problems.
Most of these girls have very little knowledge about HIV/AIDS and some survive by offering sexual intercourse in exchange for food, cash and other material things.
In response to this situation, the Salvation Army in partnership with DANTAN established KWETU Mbagala Girls Home in the Mbagala area, a few kilometres from the Dar es Salaam city centre.
The home, which is funded by Danida, was officially opened by the Minister for Community Development, Children and Women Affairs, Dr. Rose Asha Migiro(MP) in December 2000.

The main objective of KWETU is to ³establish alternatives to living in the street for young homeless girls, by offering a safe place while individual strategies are worked out and implemented² and in this way preventing child prostitution and offering marginalized girls and young women a better future.

KWETU is a Swahili word which literally means ³our home². The centre is a home for homeless young girls living in the streets of the city, orphans who have been neglected by their extended families and other girls living in difficult circumstances.
At the centre the girls are counselled, re-integrated into schools, assisted with medical care, food and a place to sleep and bathe. Members of the girls¹ extended families are identified, counselled and prepared to accept the girls back into their families. The communities and community leaders are also involved in this process. The centre accommodates 30 girls at a time.
Solar panels supply the centre with power and rainwater harvesting technology and a biological effluent water treatment system provides water for the irrigation of the shamba.

The future of the programme
The programme funding period finishes in 2002. Efforts are underway to contact interested organisations to fund the programme in order to bring hope and love into the lives of the young girls and to help build the future of the street girls, orphans and other girls living in difficult circumstances.

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