small shacks with clothes drying on a line, next to open sewage in Mabibo region of Dar es Salaam, Tanzania

With Poverty Comes Exploitation

With the charity’s extended remit to support vulnerable young girls, alongside the boys in their care, the welfare of these children is paramount. As we have highlighted before, there is a persistent perception in Tanzania that women and children hold few rights, and thus can be commoditized. They are often forced into marriages as they reach puberty, are exploited for child labor, and suffer violence in all its forms.

With poverty comes exploitation. When approximately 28.2% of the population live below the poverty line (less than $18 a month), and 50.1% of the population under 17 years of age (in 2012), Tanzania is facing a crisis whereby poverty stricken women and children, particularly vulnerable young girls, face a life with the threat of violence, and servitude never far away.

USAID’s report into gender based violence highlights the consequences of Tanzania’s precarious situation:    

“Girls from rural areas are trafficked to urban centers and the island of Zanzibar for domestic servitude and commercial sexual exploitation. Some domestic workers fleeing abusive employers fall prey to forced prostitution. While statistics on trafficking are difficult to obtain because of the underground nature of the phenomenon, existing evidence indicates that it is a significant problem in Tanzania. For example, in 2007, the Ministry of Labor withdrew nearly 1,100 victims from forced child labor situations (U.S. State Department, 2008).”

The report goes on to point out that despite Tanzania’s Sexual Offenses Special Provisions Act (SOSPA) criminalizing various forms of GBV, including rape, sexual assault and harassment, female genital cutting, and sex trafficking, this act is not fit for purpose. For a rape conviction, penetration must be proven- nearly impossible without forensic evidence, and marital rape is excluded entirely, unless the parties are separated. Then, if a rape conviction is handed down, the accused can face 30 years imprisonment: A punishment “that survivors may consider too extreme in rape cases wherein typically, the perpetrator is the survivor’s relative”.

Subsequently the Tanzanian government has reassessed the situation, recognizing that “violence in childhood has an impact on a person’s health and well-being well into adulthood, that violence is cyclical and that addressing violence in childhood will also reduce violence against women, that violence is interpersonal as well as inter-generational, and impacts individual, family, and community health and well-being.”  In response they have put into action the NPA_VAWC to tackle the many contributing factors that exacerbate and perpetuate these behaviors. The challenge is immense.

To prevent these horrendous abuses, and remove the environment in which they thrive, it will take more than legislation and long jail terms for the very few who are convicted. The vicious poverty cycle must be broken. The Tanzanian youth who find themselves trapped in poverty must be given the means to escape the fate of their parents, through a full education, emotional and social support, and the opportunity to succeed.

young boys in school uniforms make leave the House of Blue Hope at dawn to walk to school in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania

With ten years of experience in providing a safe place to live, quality education, care and support to vulnerable young boys, the House of Blue Hope charity is now looking to extend its reach, giving young girls the same care, support, and opportunities they deserve. 

Help us to give vulnerable children in Tanzania a life free from poverty, violence, and exploitation by giving what you can. Every dollar raised will go directly to protecting and supporting the vulnerable kids that the House of Blue Hope charity rescues from perilous situations. 

young girls sit in a dirty two room house in Mabibo Tanzania

Tanzania is focused on Ending Violence Against Women & Children

It is a depressing reality that violence is a daily occurrence for large numbers of women and children in Tanzania. Thankfully efforts are being made to improve the situation nationwide. With the National Plan of Action to End Violence Against Women and Children in Tanzania 2017/18-2021/22 (NPA-VAWC),  the Tanzanian government’s new prevention of violence agenda  “envisions a Tanzania where women and children enjoy their right to an environment free from all forms of violence.”

Some eye-opening facts from the analysis carried out as part of the NPA-VAWC:

  • Almost four in ten women have experienced physical violence, and one in five women report experiencing sexual violence in their lifetime (from the age of 15).Tanzania Demographic and  Health Survey(2010)
  • Tanzania also has traditional practices that harm children and women. Tanzanian women marry young – almost five years earlier than men.
  • Female Genital Mutilation is a problem: In some communities, as many as 70.8% of women/girls are circumcised.Tanzania Demographic and Health Survey (2010)
  • At least 7.9 million women and girls in Tanzania are estimated to have undergone FGM. UNICEF Report (2013)

Despite mounting pressure for change, the Law of Marriage Act (1971) still allows girls as young as 14 to be married. Efforts to change that age to 18, as well as review the Education Act No. 25 (1978) to prohibit child marriage while at school, are yet to materialize (NPA-VAWC).

Though these realities paint a bleak picture, it is heartening to know the Tanzanian government is focused on eliminating the many contributing factors that allow the current situation to persist (see excerpt below):

The following NPA-VAWC operational targets will be achieved by 2021/22. These include:

Poverty Related VAC Operational Targets (i) Reduce 35,916 children living in street by half (ii) Reduce child labour from 29% to 9% (iii) Increase education support for girls from poor families from 23.4% to 53.4%.

Safe Schools and Life Skills Related VAC Operational Targets (i) Reduce dropout due to pregnancy cases by half from 251 and 3,439 in primary schools and secondary schools respectively (ii) Increase district Junior Councils from 108 to 185 (iii) Increase children’s clubs in schools from 398 to 13,200 (iv) Maintain gender parity in schools’ completion at 1:1 (v) Increase schools teaching life skills from 0% to 70% (vi) Increase sanitary towels support to girls from poor families from 1% to 20%

These targets are ambitious, comprehensive, and admirable, and the House of Blue Hope is eager to do its part in bringing about the change needed to achieve them. As a safety net for 10 young vulnerable girls, the charity hopes to be a source of security, both educational and emotional support, and constant care for girls that would otherwise fall victim to violence and abuse.

By providing a safe environment and a full education for vulnerable girls, the House of Blue Hope charity hopes to change the course of their lives, so that they can be inspired to pursue their dreams, become fully independent and aware of their rights. Empowering these girls so that they need not suffer from violence nor the current societal gender inequality, can help change the course of this youthful nation’s future.

kids gather on steps of the house of blue hope in Mabibo in Tanzania, resting in the shade on a sunny day

If you want to get involved, and find out how you help us make a difference to 10 vulnerable girls’ lives, get in touch: info@houseofbluehope.org

Want to donate? Go to https://www.razoo.com/story/10year  to give anything you can. Just $5 dollars goes far in Tanzania, to help vulnerable boys and girls escape the vicious poverty cycle.

two young girls sit at a desk in the House of Blue Hope charity's girls' house in Mabibo, Dar es Salaam, Tanzania

HBH Charity Looks to Prevent Child Marriage

The human rights violation of child marriage is a persistent and growing problem, not just in Tanzania but throughout sub-Saharan Africa: Stated by UNICEF, as of February 2017 “across the globe, rates of child marriage are highest in sub-Saharan Africa, where around 4 in 10 girls marry before age 18; about one in eight were married or in union before age 15” while “globally, about one in seven adolescent girls (aged 15 to 19) are currently married or in union. West and Central Africa has the highest proportion of married adolescents (27 per cent), followed by Eastern and Southern Africa (21 per cent) and the Middle East and North Africa (14 per cent).”

In their report on child marriage UNICEF highlights the extent to which the trend must be reversed, beyond its current pace of decline in sub-Saharan Africa: “even a doubling of the rate of reduction would not be enough to reduce the number of child brides.” If the current rate of decline persists the number of child brides in Africa alone will go from 125million today, to 215million by 2050.

Unsurprisingly it is the poorest in society that are most vulnerable to the practice: “Girls in rural areas are twice as likely to become child brides as girls from urban areas. Similarly, girls from the poorest households are twice as likely to marry before age 18 as girls from the richest households”.

 

old man and his child bridge in Tanzania

file photo (hrw.org)

Work carried out by USAID reveals much about the social norms in Tanzania that surround marriage, and the huge disadvantages girls and young women suffer as a consequence. Focus groups confirmed that girls marry at younger ages than boys- a significant proportion of these marriages are under duress and to much older men. The focus groups also revealed girls are considered mature enough for marriage once they begin menstruating, while boys are not considered marriageable, until they can financially provide for a family. Indeed,boys are not legally allowed to wed until they are 18. The focus group participants, both male and female, stated that girls have less power to decide when and who they marry than do boys.

This illustrates the huge gender inequality, and the injustice of a lack of rights for young girls and women in Tanzania. The Tanzanian government recognizes that current societal norms perpetuate the perception men are socially and economically dominant, and that women and children do not have rights of their own. Such perceptions allow for young girls to be perceived as property to be sold off for a dowry or bride price, to then be forced into marriages, motherhood and domestic servitude, with no hope of completing their education, nor achieve the autonomy to make choices about their bodies and lives that they deserve. The Tanzanian government is taking ambitious steps to tackle the many factors that feed into this violation of human rights, as part of their efforts to combat violence against women and children, but the task is huge.

The House of Blue Hope charity is looking to do its part in accelerating the speed of decline in child marriages in Tanzania by committing to providing vulnerable girls with a safe environment to live, a comprehensive education, and be empowered by knowing their human rights. By providing the safety net of care and education, the charity looks to directly impact the lives of these vulnerable girls, as well as the community in which they are growing up.  By gaining a full education, and having the choice of  if, when, and to whom they marry, these vulnerable girls can make a lasting impact on a community where such empowerment is more than a rarity.

young Tanzanian woman studies about her human rights in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania

In order for the charity to help prevent child marriage, we need your support.  Can you help us by making a donation? If so, visit our 10th year Anniversary Razoo page  

Thank you for giving what you can to keep these girls safe from child marriage, adolescent motherhood, and free to complete their education.

two young girls eat bread and drink milk at house of blue hope charity's house

Charity Expands its Reach, Investing in the Future of Tanzania’s Girls

In its 10th year, the House of Blue Hope charity, which has been giving vulnerable young boys a caring environment and a comprehensive education with much success, is now looking forward to expanding its reach, taking in vulnerable young girls who find themselves in situations where they cannot receive the education and care they deserve. The charity’s ambitions to break the vicious poverty cycle by enabling vulnerable young girls, as well as boys, is pertinent.

three school girls walk through the streets of Mabibo on their way to school

A new urgency within the international community to eliminate the hurdles faced by young girls in receiving, completing, and utilizing a full education has been emphasized by not just the moral imperative to prevent their exploitation, but also the far reaching social and economic benefits that are passed on down the generations. The information below is taken from UNFPA State of World Population 2016 Report:

  • Girls are less likely than boys to complete schooling and more likely to face forced marriage, child labor, female genital mutilation and other undermining practices.
  • Girls are less likely than boys to complete formal schooling at the secondary and university levels.
  • Girls are more likely to be in poorer physical and mental health, and will find it harder to get paid jobs.
  • Every day, an estimated 47,700 girls are married before 18.
  • Ten per cent of 5-to-14 year-old girls do more than 28 hours of household chores per week, twice that of boys. Three in four girl labourers are unpaid.
  • Each year of education delivers an additional 11.7% uplift in wages in later life for girls (compared with 9.6% for men). Yet, 16 million girls between 6 and 11 will never start school, twice the number of boys.
  • If all the 10-year-old girls who drop out of school or do not attend school in developing countries completed secondary education, they would trigger a $21 billion annual dividend.

In the same report the UNFPA Executive Director Dr. Babatunde Osotimehin states:

“Impeding a girl’s safe, healthy path through adolescence to a productive and autonomous adulthood is a violation of her rights”, “But it also takes a toll on her community and nation. Whenever a girl’s potential goes unrealized, we all lose.”

The House of Blue Hope charity’s work in helping vulnerable girls escape more than just the poverty trap, but frequently gender based violence (GBV), and child marriage, is vital for empowering young girls who would otherwise have little hope of finishing their education. The charity aims to protect the rights of these girls to pursue their ambitions, instead of being married off to older men once they reach puberty, or disproportionately carry the burden of unskilled, unpaid domestic work, or bearing children when they themselves are barely out of adolescence.

two young girls stand in front of the House of Blue Hope charity's house

In order for the charity to fulfill its 10th anniversary ambitions of helping vulnerable girls strive for success and break the inter-generational poverty trap, we need your help. Any donation you can afford will enable us to, not only help the vulnerable girls we take in, but their children, and their children’s children. Even a small investment in the girls of today, can reap rewards for decades to come. Help us support 10 boys and 10 girls so they can live their lives free from violence and poverty, and full of ambition and hope.  

 

young boys sit at their desks, studying after school at the house of blue hope

Current Educational Attainment in Tanzania

World leaders have become increasingly focused on achieving sustainable development through tackling poverty and the contributing factors that cause it to persist around the world. In a historic UN summit in September 2015 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development were adopted by world leaders. Three of the seventeen were No Poverty (#1), Quality Education (#4), and Gender Equality (#5). The UN highlights some alarming statistics:

  • 57 million children remain out of school in developing countries
  • More than half of children that have not enrolled in school live in sub-Saharan Africa
  • 103 million youth worldwide lack basic literacy skills, and more than 60 per cent of them are women

The need to tackle the lack of educational attainment in Tanzania is stark. According to the World Bank, the number of primary school age children that are out of school is on the rise, reaching 2,155,490 in 2014. The percentage of primary school age boys out of school in the same year was 22.55% (compared to 6.347% in USA), while the percentage of girls was 21.34% (compared to 5.568% in USA).

 

young boy works on his homework at the House of Blue Hope

The House of Blue Hope Charity is poised to increase the number of children it helps attain a full education, and pursue their dreams.

That these figures are so high and steadily climbing is a reflection of the significant hurdles that are faced in a country with 50.1% of the population under 17 years old (2012 National Census), and with approximately 28.2% of the population living below the poverty line, and 11.3% of people living in extreme poverty and deprivation (Population and Housing Census, 2012).

The national basic needs poverty line per adult was just Tanzanian Shillings 36,482 per month while national food poverty line was Tanzanian Shillings 26,085 per adult per month in 2012 (2011/12 Household Budget Survey). That’s less than 18$ a month! Find these statistics and more via the Ministry of Health, Community Development, Gender, Elderly and Children.

two men walk through the rubbish strewn streets, with sewage water in the foreground and small shacks in the background, in Mabibo, Tanzania

The deprivation is never far away in Mabibo, with insufficient infrastructure and pollution ever present.

With supporters’ help, the House of Blue Hope charity is doing its part to reverse this lack of educational attainment, providing quality education to vulnerable young boys for the last ten years. Now the charity is expanding its ambitions to help tackle poverty, gender inequality, and educational attainment by providing vulnerable girls with the care, security, and quality education they deserve.

Can you help? If so, go to  https://www.razoo.com/story/10year and give whatever you can. Remember a dollar goes a very long way to securing the future of the most vulnerable kids in Tanzania!

mentors pictured with mothers while they cook for the day

Mabibo Mothers Receive Support from HBH Outreach Program

As part of the charity’s remit, it goes beyond supporting vulnerable young girls and boys, ensuring they have the support they need to successfully complete their education. House of Blue Hope also works within its community to combat the root causes of poverty, including a lack of stable, consistent employment, poor resource management, and child neglect.

three mothers prepare food for the community outreach program in mabibo

Some of the mothers help prepare food for the day, before the outreach program begins.

Recently one such community outreach program was organized, taking place in the charity’s newly established community center. Tutors from the Tanzania Social Work Initiative Company (TASWICO) came to HBH’s community center in Mabibo to run the Child Development and Entrepreneurship for Sustainable Family Income course. Fifteen women attended the training course, some of them mothers to the young kids HBH supports throughout their schooling, and some women from the community who struggle to gain and sustain employment. These women are often trapped in poverty by a lack of education or vocational training, so must rely on unstable, domestic work and their own micro entrepreneurial activities.

mentors teach mothers from Mabibo in the community center

Tutors from the Tanzania Social Work Initiative Company address fifteen mothers and women from the local community, in HBH’s community center.

The tutors spent the day working with the fifteen women, teaching them about good money and resource management for growing small businesses, so that the efforts they are already making can provide better, more consistent dividends. Another area that was discussed was the importance of early child development and education. The mothers were taught about the positive, long term impact of child nutrition and care has on a child’s success throughout school, as well as about the lasting benefits of the completion of schooling has on future earnings.

In a country where 50.1% of the population is under 17 years of age (2012 national census), with children being eight times more likely to end up on the streets permanently after dropping out of the education system , it is an important part of the charity’s work to take action in preventing the younger generations falling into the same poverty traps that their parents endure. Part of that action is educating and empowering the women and mothers within the Mabibo community who have not had the opportunities that should have been open to them, and highlighting the importance of providing a more stable life for themselves and their children.

mentors address the mothers attending the outreach program in the community center
Because of the donations the House of Blue Hope charity receives from its supporters, such outreach programs are made possible. The charity hopes to provide many more opportunities for those most affected by poverty in Tanzania. If you would like to help HBH expand its reach in this regard, get in touch: info@houseofbluehope.org

House of Blue Hope wishes to thank CJ Eklund Fine Art Photography for donating her skills to capture this outreach program.

HBH Charity Welcomes Aga Khan Guides and Scouts

In recent months the charity has been fortunate to receive ongoing support from Children’s Birthday Miracles-Dar es Salaam, and its founder, who is heavily involved with the Aga Khan Girl Guides and Aga Khan Scouts here. Every year both of the children’s educational organizations have a Service Day where they spend time contributing to their local communities, and it was put forward the House of Blue Hope Charity could be a recipient of their donation collections, and they could meet the young kids who are working hard to fulfill their ambitions.

HBH welcomed the Aga Khan Girl Guides and Scouts to the house on Tanzania’s Union Day, celebrating the unification of Tanganyika and the People’s Republic of Zanzibar on 26th April 1964.  With well versed coordination, each Guide and Scout took their turn to unload the donations of food, clothes, shoes, books, puzzles, and games from their minibus.

kids sit in circles and play games and solves puzzles at the charity's house

It didn’t take long for the games and puzzles to be opened and shared, helping to break the ice, and getting the national holiday off to a good start. The Guide leaders organized the youngest in attendance into groups to play, and complete puzzles, while the older kids organised two mixed teams to play football.  

the girl guides, scouts, and the kids from the charity divide themselves into two teams to play football

After a few fun filled hours were passed playing games, the Guides and Scouts presented a wonderful cake for everyone to share, and Adam, whose birthday falls in April, was nominated to cut the cake.

guides, scouts and the charity's kids gather round the table, watching Adam cut the cake for everyone to share

 

This was the first time the charity had been visited by the Guides and Scouts, but hopefully not the last! It was great to see the kids build bridges beyond their immediate community. Over the last ten years the house has become a hub of play and learning, and it is great that this can be extended beyond the confines of the Mabibo community. The House of Blue Hope charity would like to extend its gratitude to the Aga Khan Guides and Scouts for their donations and their friendship. Asanteni sana!

House of Blue Hope charity celebrate Tanzanian Union Day with the girl guides and Scouts

Want to see more pictures of this wonderful event, and more? Follow us on Instagram!

House of Blue Hope 10th Anniversary

Ten years ago, on the outskirts of Dar es Salaam, East Africa’s largest city, a few hopeful young leaders built House of Blue Hope (HBH). Soon thereafter, HBH’s doors were opened to a small group of vulnerable teenage boys. Those boys are now young men with great educations, valuable skills and knowledge, and hope! Your support sustains a long-term commitment to the well-being of vulnerable children in Tanzania, and this year – with your support – we can help more children than ever! Please help us make this happen.

https://www.razoo.com/story/10year   

Those boys who arrived in 2007 recently attended a workshop at the house as part of our ongoing support as they transition to lives of self-sufficiency. HBH provides job search and resume assistance, sliding scale tuition, housing support, and training for social, financial, and career navigation. Many of these young men are working, attending university, or both. Today, the house they once called home is at full capacity with boys aged 6 to 17. The children are excelling academically and socially, and are on a path to success thanks to the support of friends like you!

This spring, we opened the doors of our new house for girls, and it is now the new home for Irene (age 7) and Domina (age 6). They joined the House of Blue Hope family in March, and our new social worker is helping them adjust as they settle in and prepare to enter Gonzaga Primary School. They are from a region with a high-rate of gender-based violence, and where females have few opportunities for education or employment. House of Blue Hope is committed to securing a bright future for these girls by providing a safe home, an outstanding education, and the support, care, and respect they need and deserve. We are excited to see the new house fill up as we extend our support and resources to more children. 

This work is possible because caring people like you have supported us for ten years! Your donation to the House of Blue Hope’s 10th Anniversary Campaign’s goal of $30,000 will allow us to add ten new girls to the house and support them as the charity works hard to break the cycle of poverty.

young boy holds young orphaned black and tan puppy up in his arms

Every Living Thing Charity Hosts HBH

As a keen animal lover, Shelly has become good friends with Brittany Hilton, owner of one of Dar es Salaam’s best known animal sanctuaries. After witnessing the pleasure the boys got from interacting with her own puppy, Shelly arranged for them to have the opportunity to learn about the duty human beings have in caring for both wild and domesticated animals.

Every Living Thing (ELT) is a sanctuary that works to improve the lives of animals in Tanzania. Their aim is to work together with local governments to help enforce the current Animal Welfare Act (2008), while educating the communities on the rights of all animals. ELT staff were more than happy to host the kids from the house for an afternoon of education, and hands-on time with a wide variety of animals.

There was much to learn about the different orphaned animals the sanctuary has taken in, including dogs, cats, rabbits, and reptiles. The kids were divided into groups so that they could interact with the animals properly, without disturbing them in their enclosures. The staff took the time to talk about the different demands of looking after each creature.

The rabbits stick to dry land while the terrapins make use of the pond. The cattery is the perfect play pen, and ideal for teaching visitors about good cat care.

All the kids had the opportunity to get up close to the cats and dogs the sanctuary looks after, and re-homes. The responsibility of looking after animals properly; taking care of all their needs while treating them with kindness and respect, is something the staff are passionate about and wanted to share with the kids. Pets are often abandoned in the city, and with a sizable feral dog population, Every Living Thing has its work cut out taking animals in, keeping them healthy, and spaying/neutering unclaimed animals, yet they would never turn an orphaned animal in need away. It was an important part of the day for the kids to understand that humans must be compassionate and responsible for looking after all animals.

Dogs of all ages, including many puppies, are brought to the sanctuary. Thankfully there was a resident surrogate bitch that happily let orphaned pups suckle.

This mother has adopted many puppies that are brought to the sanctuary. She was as gentle with the kids as she was with the pups.

 

House of Blue Hope would like to thank Shelly and the staff at Every Living Thing for making this trip happen, giving the kids the opportunity to learn about what it takes to take care of all the different animals that are being looked after by the sanctuary, and interacting with them in a calm environment.

The charity would also like to extend their gratitude to CJ Eklund Fine Art Photography for donating her time and talent to take these beautiful photos to document the occasion.