By Eric Olander from China Africa Project
A Chinese Youth and His Charity Foundation in Tanzania
The following article was written by Bo Sun.
My name is Bo Sun, a Chinese student studying in Reno, Nevada and whose father works and lives in Tanzania. During the Christmas holiday of 2016, I visited Dar es Salaam, Tanzania to spend time with my family. Meanwhile, my institution asks students to complete a certain number of hours of volunteer work as a part of the graduation requirement. It just so happens that my father’s friend Robin, who works for the Tanzanian government, has a connection to an orphanage named Children’s Home and I was hence introduced this orphanage by him.
Children’s Home is a Catholic church-owned orphanage run by the sisters there. They take in children up to five years old. I was initially helping with feeding the kids, helping them bathing, hanging and folding the clothes, from 10 AM to 4 PM every day. But I only had a short winter break, so I only had actual about ten days to fully volunteer. I was not satisfied and eager to do more for the kids after I leave. Inspired by my father, I started Bo’s Love Children’s Home Foundation and was luckily met with strong support, both spiritually and financially, by the local Chinese community in Tanzania: “Because we live here, work here, so we want to give back to here,” said Qiang, one of the supporters.
After Bo’s Love Children’s Home Foundation was established, we created an account for people to donate instead of just letting people come in and leave cash on the table, which was what many others were doing at the time. The reason for this is we want to avoid corruption, we want to know exactly how much money we receive and how are they being spent. To show our transparency, we publish the receipts on our website build by myself: boslovechf.com, so that our donors can know where exactly their money go.
However, there is a policy in Children’s Home: after reaching the age of five, the kids have to leave, their two options are either to be adopted or to be sent to boarding schools. To the orphanage, they’d rather prefer the kids to be adopted, in which case they might have a chance to get better education and lives in general. However, due to the lack of resources, the Children’s Home rarely track the kids after they leave and which lures many foul intentions. During an internal consensus, I found out that many kids were taken into street gangs instead of being truly adopted by families, the lucky ones of them become pickpockets or juvenile prostitutes, the unlucky ones ended up dead on the street due to various reasons.
Eager to find a better way to help the sustainability of the orphanage as well as for the future of the kids, I went to Nairobi, Kenya. Kenya, like Tanzania, has many abandoned children which then leads to increased homelessness on the streets. According to some estimates, in just Nairobi alone 250,000 people have no roof over their heads.
Non-governmental organizations in Kenya have a more developed system to counter these issues. So, I came here to learn a way that is not like “Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day” but like “teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime”. The non-government organizations here in Kenya focused on the kids’ different needs, including from survive to work, then finally from work to rich. These non-government organizations teach me that the kids need much more than just food.
Imani Rehabilitation centre is a non-governmental organization. Although Imani tried their best to rescue the kids, many abandoned infants still died in the garbage bin or on a raining night. For the kids they saved, Imani lets the kids enjoy their basic right, survive. Unlike Children’s Home, Imani takes in kids who have special needs —— ones have physical or mental challenges. Imani has different centres for different kinds of kids based on their treatment requirements. Also, Imani does not send away the kids until the kids can be independent. According to the local law, the orphanage must track the status of the kids after they leave.
Raha Kids is also a non-governmental organization dedicated to bring the underprivileged kids a better future. Raha Kids rescues the boys from the streets of Nairobi. They allow the kids to enjoy the basic right of survive and education, and they also care how the kids are doing after they leave. They do not send the kids away at the young age such as five, because at that time, the kids still do not have the ability to be independent. They inspired me that if I cannot convince the Children’s Home to allow the kids stay longer, at least we should track their status to make sure they are doing just fine. The most ideal situation is that Children’s Home can have a annual report about the kids until they become completely independent.
There are also many non-governmental organizations providing vocational training to the needed, so they can work to live after they leave the organization. Heshima Kenya is one of the non-governmental organizations. Heshima only accepts female refugees. Heshima has a program called Maisha. Maish is a twelve-month long program which trains the refugees how to tailor. Raregem Talent School is a non-governmental organization which is created for the special kids such as the dyslexia kids. Raregem teaches the kids how to make hand crafts. Some even teach the kids more advanced skills. Like Tunapanda, it teaches the poor kids who cannot afford the university how to code and art design. Youth Banner even teaches the needed entrepreneurship and related business skill. These skills provide the neededs’ more choice, they truly change their lives. They not only helps avoiding themselves’ poverty, they also benefit the community. Although kids in Children’s Home are too small to have skills, the sisters in Children’s Home should give them the ideas of skills, and let them at least have a dream about their future life, which builds their passion to learn skills. And I hope my foundation can help them get into to vocational school after their boarding school, to “change their lives.”
Maybe because of the cultural tradition, most of the Chinese just think donating money is all they can do for the people in need, but i realize that we can do much more about it. Money do help
the kids, but they need more help on finding the way out of poverty. I will try to combined what i have learnt in Kenya and current situation in Tanzania to build a better foundation.
SOS Chilidren’s Villages. “Street Children in Kenya.” Street Children, SOS Children’s Villages. n.d. January 3, 2018 assessed. http://www.street-children.org.uk/african-street-children/kenya.