Results of the Child Protection Program
Net4kids has been investing in the education projects of local partner FT Kilimanjaro (FTK) since 2010. For example, we have invested in improving the quality of primary education by purchasing books, sports & games, and other teaching materials. The health of the students has improved with the construction of school gardens for food production. We have now been investing in the Lower Moshi Scholarship Fund for a number of years. We offer school grants to talented children to give them the opportunity to develop further. And we will soon start with an innovative concept in which we, with a group of 30 entrepreneurs, want to make an entire community self-reliant in the coming years.
In short, a lot has happened in recent years. But we haven't told much about a somewhat smaller program in which Net4kids has also been involved in recent years.
The Child Protection Program
It started with a survey in one of the villages where FTK is active, to investigate the extent to which violence & abuse of children occurs in the local community. The results turned out to be alarming. Parents, carers, family members, but also local authorities abuse the vulnerable position of children.
A cause that was often mentioned in this research was the psychological aspect: the Tanzanian culture puts the man above the woman and the economic system also causes major power differences. Power, impotence, poverty, addiction, all factors that ultimately harm the children. It makes the child who has been abused or assaulted very anxious and frightened, especially towards adults. And the self-image is getting lower and lower, they feel that they are worthless.
This must and can be done differently. That is why FTK wanted to work with external partners who specialize in this problem and use the local government authorities to bring about a mind change. Quite a challenge and the problem is widespread, so a thorough approach is needed to create change.
In the past year (2020), in collaboration with experts (such as an NGO specialized in this theme and various legal staff), FTK organized 8 training courses and an information campaign for the communities in Lower Moshi. This is considerably more than the 2 training sessions that were planned. This is because there was much more ignorance about child abuse than previously thought, and many different target groups had to be involved in order to make structural changes (from teachers to village elders and local (legal) organizations).
The investigation and the various meetings showed that there were already several cases of abuse, three of which were children in such bad condition that they were placed (with proper supervision) in a safe shelter in Moshi.
One of the stories shared with Net4kids is the story of a child who was used as a slave for all the household chores. Does not go to school and is literally used as a doormat. What often happens, and is now also the case, is that children lose their parents (due to illness) and are then taken in by another family (of a family member, for example). That family is not really waiting for this either, they already have enough mouths to feed. Yet the care for these (orphaned) children often happens in this way and abuse is lurking. The child has been admitted to the care program and is doing well, depending on the circumstances. Safe with loving people around them, in good health and given the fair chance to develop themselves.
The first steps have been taken
Because of all the training, all parties involved are much better informed about what to look out for in the event of abuse. Teachers, village elders, local authorities, are also better able to deal with the problem, to discuss it and what solutions may be offered.
Realistically, these results can only really be called the beginning of the 'mind-change' that we envision. The process is step by step, but the most important thing is that the first step has been taken. In all communities where FTK is active, this topic will be discussed and it will be easier to 'scan' where abuse takes place.