small foundation with a big impact

Corona virus hits Tanzania

21-03-2020
April 22, 2020
Coronavirus contamination is increasing rapidly in Tanzania. Fortunately, the number of deaths is still remarkably low, although the actual numbers could be considerably higher because there is minimal testing taking place.
 
The government has not yet given any insight when the schools, daycares and universities are allowed to open again. Our Ngorika children receive a weekly homework package to limit the learning delay. Given they are on an official school holiday currently, they are now 'only' two weeks behind.
 
In the meantime, we have received the green light from social services to bring children back to our homes in phases. Measures are now being taken for the return of the first 45 children. The most crucial action is creating a schedule for our matrons and patrons. This includes ensuring that their contact with the outside world, including family and church visits, is not permitted during the working week to limit the risk of the spread of the virus to Ngorika. We will accelerate our plan to hire more matrons and patrons due to the increasing workload. Joyce Sagala, a member of the NGO board,  will guide the matrons and patrons to ensure that the children and staff are as safe as possible. There is also a lot of fear and uncertainty among our employees, which we are managing.
 
We are impressed by the professionalism of the local team. A great deal of adaptation and proactivity is evident, and together with the local government, they are doing everything they can to protect the children and the employees. Our gratitude is, therefore, enormous! 
 

April 10, 2020
The current coronavirus figures in Tanzania as of today are 32 infected, three deceased and five recovered. 
 
Since the closure of our homes and primary school, the local team, led by Mary, our head of social work, have not been idle. All children had their "home situation" checked last week, and they are all doing well. Where necessary, this was done via a physical visit, so that food and medicines could also be provided. We once again urged the team to take precautions and not to take any risks.
 
The teaching team has put together a homework package at a rapid pace so that the children can continue to be busy in terms of learning activities. Parental cooperation is essential for this, and supervision of the implementation is unfortunately not always possible. If the lockdown applies up to and including the May holiday, the learning delay will be small.


The number of coronavirus cases is still extremely limited in Tanzania, but it is difficult to predict whether President Magufuli will opt for an extension or not.
 
The team does its utmost to ensure the well-being of the children, albeit remotely. As a board, we are also doing our utmost to support our employees financially. It is difficult it is to manage the project remotely, and we are therefore grateful for the involvement of the NGO board, the professionalism of the management team and the fact that many employees have worked for the project for a long time.
 
March 21, 2020
Last Wednesday, President Magufuli made the unexpected and drastic decision to immediately close all schools and orphanages and have the children sent home. This, in response to the first three Corona infections that have become known in his country. As a foundation board, we are convinced that the children in our compound are better protected than outside, but we must follow this mandatory instruction.

Our children (living in, neighbourhood children and our secondary school students at external boarding schools) have been sent 'home'. However, the most vulnerable children or children for whom we cannot arrange external childcare remain with us, as long as the number does not exceed an 'ordinary' family size.

This radical measure comes at a relatively 'favourable' time. Spring break begins on April 7; a period when the school closes for two weeks and the Happy Watoto children usually return to their extended family supporters. The school closure must be seen as an early and extended school holiday, with lost school time being made up in June, according to the Ministry of Education. Our teaching team were very fast in producing a package of homework to give to the children to take home with them.
Preparations for the school holidays were therefore in full swing at Happy Watoto. As a result, approximately 250 children that we have in our homes and on external boarding schools were able to be picked up or dropped off almost immediately, or travel home independently, without any significant problems.

Our team in Tanzania have acted tremendously well and adapted very quickly. Where necessary, a travel budget has been made available, and food has been provided. And just as in all school holidays, the children will now also be ensured that they are safe and receive the primary care they need. The matrons, patrons and teachers will support our social workers in the coming period. We have strongly recommended that any follow-up is carried out remotely. We have also made our food budget available for financial support to the families.

In addition to the high professionalism of the local team, we feel comfortable that we have enough financial reserves to support the families and pay the staff for a more extended period. After all, the Tanzanian government has no safety net for this kind of extreme situation.

The children of Happy Watoto will need your support more than ever. That is why we sincerely hope that you continue to follow us and support us financially. This hope we express with the knowledge that the consequences of the Coronavirus will also be enormous here. Of course, we wish everyone strength in this.

Our centres in Kikatiti and Ngorika will remain closed until further notice. If critical new developments occur, we will communicate them on our website.

On behalf of the board, thank you very much for your involvement. We hope to meet you in good health later in the spring.
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