Alternative care facilities in Arusha

28Dec 2021
Kenneth Simbaya
Dar es Salaam
The Guardian
Alternative care facilities in Arusha

THE future of any nation hinges on how the country invests on its children, simply put it, how the country observes children’s rights to make sure that each child can survive, thrive and fully enjoy his or her rights.

Alternative care facilities in Arusha

Of recent days this reporter has been following up on avenues available by the government or other children welfare stakeholders who work to make sure that children in Tanzania can survive, thrive and transform.

Findings by the reporter has revealed that great strides has been made by the government of Tanzania and stakeholders like SOS Children’s Village Tanzania, Children in Crossfire (CiC) Tanzania, Save the Children, UNICEF and the Ministry of Health Community Development, Gender, Elderly and Children on children’s survival, protection and development.

The reporter has learnt that, the government of Tanzania working with its stakeholders/partners like SOS Children’s Village Tanzania, CiC Tanzania, Save the Children Tanzania, UNICEF Tanzania and many others, has much to celebrate for children, from universal immunization coverage, decline in under five mortality by almost 40% in the past decade, increase in birth registration, matter relating to early childhood development (ECD) championed by CiC Tanzania and other ECD stakeholders, as well strengthening families to be able to take care of the children under their care through government interventions by TASAF and SOS Children’s Village Tanzania.

“Awareness of children’s rights and understanding of the government and stakeholders’ obligation or responsibility is pivotal to achieving the desired result for a blighter future,” UNICEF Tanzania said.

Children’s rights are human rights, besides that child in Tanzania make up more than half of the population according to Tanzania Demographic and Health Survey (TDHS) 2015/16. DHS is a government survey on health and demographics undertaken every five years, the last was released in 2015/16.

According to Rene Van Dongen, UNICEF Deputy Representative to Tanzania’s message on the children and young people’s agenda 2019, the government’s commitment and efforts towards achieving milestones relating to children’s rights have been commendable, but with Tanzania’s size, growing population of children and young people, socio economic and cultural diversity and its regional gender and social disparities, challenges still remain for fulfillment of the vision the Convection on the Rights of Children (CRC).

“Children and young people form a large part of Tanzania’s growing population. Taping into their creative thinking, commitments, and energy is an essential driver for Tanzania’s development now and in the future,” says Rene in his message.

According to Rene, no human rights can be fulfilled without people being responsible and taking action to improve the lives of children and their families. The government has a huge responsibility but also mothers, fathers, teachers, nurses, social workers, religious leaders, NGOs and CSOs, the media, development partners and the private sector need to play their part.

SOS Children’s Village Tanzania has responded very well to this call to action. Noting that many children in Tanzania are growing up without the care, protection and guidance they need. SOS Children's Villages among other interventions is working with children, young people and families to tackle this issue.

According David Mulongo SOS Children’s Village Tanzania National Director SOS Children’s Village Tanzania works to keep families together, provide alternative care when needed, support young people on their path to independence, and advocate for the rights of children. Together with donors, partners, communities and governments, SOS Children Village lays the foundations for a Tanzania brighter future.

SOS Children’s Villages focuses on the care and support of children who have lost, or who are at risk of losing, the care of their biological family.

“Family strengthening program (FSP) aim to prevent children from losing the care of their family,” Mulongo said recently, adding that SOS Children Village empowers families, by strengthening their capacity to protect and care for their children, and strengthen safety nets for vulnerable children and their families within the community.

FSP is different from institutionalized care, where by vulnerable children are taken care by staying at the campus. FSP reaches families and children in their homes and communities.

Mulongo underscored that, each child needs someone to support and protect them as they grow. But many parents face hardships that prevent them from giving proper care. SOS Children’s Villages offers tailored support to strengthen families in need, helping to keep them together. From counselling to skills development, parents are empowered with the resources they need to overcome their difficulties.

“With strong families, children and young people can receive the care and support they need to thrive,” Mulongo said.
This year according to Mulongo SOS Children’s Village Tanzania under Family Strengthening Program they have supported 1, 924 families across the country reaching 6, 786.

The reasons why families participate in SOS family strengthening include economic hardship, death of one or both parents and unstable relationships of the parents, according to Mulongo adding that the absence of a stable, protective family exposes children to multiple risk factors and makes them vulnerable to neglect, abuse, discrimination and exploitation.

According to Kaiza Sakafu Family Strengthening Program Coordinator from Arusha, some of the ways in which SOS Children Village help families, include but not limited to coaching in parenting and household management skills, family counselling to resolve issues, access to health care services for children and nursing mothers, access to education for girls and boys, including school needs such as school uniforms, learning materials, tutoring and after-school help, training and equipping parents to earn an income and create a stable home.