It all started with the garbage collection at Ananasif area in Kinondoni District, Dar es Salaam. Ten women under the patronage of the Leokadia Rugambwa, now the Executive Director of Kinondoni Moscow Women Development Association had formed a group of ten women to collect garbage which was blocking the drainage system way back in 1994…
It was one of the dirtiest places in Dar es Salaam which had attracted international organizations like the UNDP for help.
The ten member group of women formed what was then known as Community Development Association which was officially registered in 1995. The drainage system created havoc in the area. Outbreaks of diseases like cholera and other waterborne diseases were common.
The group then managed to get contracts in cleaning the systems from the Da res Salaam City Council.
The management of garbage was so intricate which needed expertise. Leokadia was selected from the group to go to Karelwe in Uganda to learn on how best to handle the garbage collection. The area in Uganda was facing similar problems and had more experience in handling garbage collection.
“In Uganda I realized that the garbage collection was a complex undertaking but at the same time rewarding. In Uganda people were getting money out of the garbage,” she says.
When she came to Tanzania the UNDP later provided the group with working tools like gloves and gum boots.
She says the work was getting tougher because there much to do but with little personnel. They had to hire youth to collect the garbage from people and from the drainage which was becoming full at fast pace.
The youths were paid some money on a weekly bases making many of the Kinondoni youth who had nothing to do get money for their needs.
The University of Dar es Salaam promised the members that they would teach them the technology of making compost manure. They learnt the technology and were able to make compost manure and recycling of plastics.
The Dar es Salaam City Council was attracted with the recycling of plastics and glass and therefore managed to secure tenders for collection of glass and plastics for the group.
The Kioo Limited was taking glass for us while the Simba Plastics company was taking plastics.
“What is more interesting is that many of the garbage which we could not recycle was used to fill parts of Kinondoni valley.
“In fact many of the houses you see around Ananasif have been built over the land we filled with the garbage with,” specifying that more than 100 houses in the area are built on the land they the garbage with. Trucks were hired by the group to undertake the work.
“We learnt that garbage is money. In realizing that we formed four community groups to spearhead the work,” she notes.
Something ominous was experienced when members of the groups were collecting contributions from residents to pay the garbage collectors.
“In many houses we went to collect contributions we were told that they had no money because they spent much of their earnings in taking care of the people living with HIV and Aids,” she narrates.
They brought the problem to the attention of Kinondoni municipal council.
“This is where the idea of forming a national wide association- the Kinondoni Moscow Women Development Association was coined. We were trained on how best to tackle the situation. We are 15 members who now operate nationwide,” she says.
This way they shifted from being garbage handling experts to health issues specifically dealing with HIV/Aids issues. They were given an area to operate their activities.
“So we were going from door to door to scout people for living with HIV and Aids and referred them to appropriate health facilities,” she says.
In 2003 the association was brought to the attention of the Tanzania Commission for Aids (TACAIDS). They were later made TACAIDS national facilitators. They also worked hand-in-glove with PathFinder International in the are of domestic care for people living with HIV and Aids. The organization had also been in good terms with Teres de Zone, a US based organization dealing with children living in difficult situations.
In 1996 Leokadia went to Belgium where she went to learn how to run non-governmental organizations. She says REPPS organization taught her organization members ways of caring for children.
The organization trained teachers, guardians of orphans, village government leaders from six wards in the Kinondoni district, Dar es Salaam. These people were trained on ways to care for children in difficult conditions
The association functions with the help of ward and village committees for combating HIV and Aids who include two children living in difficult situations, parents of the two children, two opinion leaders. Each of these have to be one male and one female. Others are a person with devotion to care for children, a village social officer and an extension officer.
The committees are entrusted with the work of giving service to children in difficult conditions, to provide service for patients with diseases like TP, HIV and Aids.
Very often the members are being called to offer seminars for people living with HIV/Aids and ways to eliminate stigmatization the latest were at Tungi and Vijibweni wards in Kigamboni area, Dar es Salaam.
She says by September this year when their contract with Foundation for Civil Society was supposed to end, they will have provided training for 15 groups on how best to perform their duties as good service providers for children in difficult conditions.
She says each member of the groups trained has a knowledge good governance, caring for people living with HIV and Aids and controlling stigmatization among other things.
She said just recently they were in Kigamboni area in the city where they were giving education to people who according to the officials are not easily reached by
extension officers or NGOs.
“We have also taught them on the legal aspects of HIV and Aids and stigmatization. We told them that they can sue anyone who stigmatizes them as that infringes human rights,” she says.
They also had a doctor from the Dar es Salaam City Council who was the main speaker on matters concerning health. There was a request that the workshop be conducted again at Tungi area, one of the big centres of Kigamboni, Dar es Salaam.
“The people in Kigamboni were so excited to the extent that they wanted to undergo HIV test but did not do that because we did not go with the necessary equipment for testing. The achievements at Kigamboni is a lesson that once people are sensitized, they are willing undergo HIV test and later change their pattern of life for the better,” she says.
She says there is need for people like the fishermen to be reached because of the nature of their activity.
“Fishermen spend much of their time in the sea. They get little time to listen to education concerning HIV/Aids. In the workshop we conducted, there we no fishermen because they were out fishing,” she says.
She said the association would conduct what she termed as one-to-one intervention where each association member engages a fisherman in a conversation concerning HIV and Aids.
“We will also have to engage the boys assisting fishermen in cleaning their fish as they came to the shore from fishing. What we have gathered from people at the Magogoni fishing market is that some of these small boys are abused by fishermen who lure them with fish,” she says.