Today’s Post comes from Emmanuel Joseph Massawe, founder and director of Arusha Children Center which is a non-profit in Tanzania committed to the education and development of under privileged children.
I was born on the street by a homeless mother who abandoned me, where I endured not just physical struggle of finding food to eat and a safe space to sleep at night, but also the hopelessness and despair of having neither love nor support, without any sense that I mattered to the world.
My life was saved in the year 2000 at age 14 by two community leaders who built a small center, Children for Children’s Future (CCF), where street children were free to come and go to fulfill their physical and psycho-social needs: food, beds, counseling, and educational activities.
By my mid-twenties, I realized the need to do more than what this shelter could offer. We could not continue surviving just on local church charity and unpredictable aide from tourists involved in our work short-term. I saw the need for a long-term plan and a sustainable business model to help our charity succeed, and so I created it.
I am now the Director of Arusha Children Center’s services to the homeless youth of Arusha and have begun taking the lead on designing and implementing a new service strategy. For too many years I have watched tourists come into and out of my city, missing the opportunity to contribute to the work of leaving this place better than when they arrived. Shouldn’t all tourism stick to this model? We want to welcome individual and group tourists traveling to Arusha in a way that is mutually beneficial. To do so, we offer a series of tours that will provide our Arusha Children with financial support which exchanges our visitors more directly with the community to which they have come.
We do not showcase poverty; we display struggle in order to raise awareness of it and take meaningful action to end poverty. It is our goal at Arusha Children Center to help street children become healthy, well-adjusted adults. We cannot do this alone.
We have three main objectives; to re-unite street children with their families and community of origin, to rehabilitate those children who cannot return home so that they can become happy and self-supporting members of society, and to advocate for the rights and responsibilities of children to be recognized and responded to.
We believe that helping children to grow in body, mind and spirit, is the way to build a strong community. Arusha children center responds to all street children in Arusha Region, numbering over fifty. We support street children and enable them to make informed decisions about the direction of their lives. These children will then be able to take responsibility for their actions and their consequences. Through developing the children’s talent and creativity they will gain the tools to move their own lives forward. Empowered by Arusha Children’s Center, these young people will grow to be strong citizens of Tanzania.
I know first-hand the difference love, support, and education can make to a child’s life. More importantly, I know these children at Arusha Children’s Center are going to be part of the solution to ending poverty in my country.