- Street children helping street children
- The first building blocks!
- Help for Habibu
- Support from the district commissioner in Mkuranga
- A visit to the Chairman
- The future Malaika children’s village mapped
- Important visitors to Malaika: Mwenge celebration
- A very special Christmas Eve
Street children as furniture makers? How’s it possible? It’s all to do with an organisation called Wings of Support. This organisation is an initiative of the flying crew of KLM. They try to help children, in those countries frequented by the crews, with housing and education. These people often experience first hand where it’s really necessary. For example in Tanzania. Wings of Support has supported the Dogodogo street children’s shelter for many years now. In this shelter street children have learnt to make furniture, including school furniture. Now they’ve promised to furnish the Malaika children’s village! Beds, tables, chairs, cupboards; all will be made by these children. The first table is already there! It’s already in full use in the temporary children’s home of Malaika Kids, where the children currently live.
The chairman of Wings for Support, Alex Hoedemaker, thinks it’s a great idea for ‘street children’ to help street children. Malaika Kids couldn’t agree with him more. The street children are learning skills with which they can later earn a living; at the same time they’re also helping ‘our’ children. It couldn’t be better. Wings of Support is expected to bear all costs.
These are just the blocks to mark out the land, but it’s a start! We bought more than 20 hectares of land, for just €4000. This low price was agreed after mediation by a helpful district commissioner. She is very pleased and proud that such a large project is to be built in her district. Also because she has experienced and understands the consequences of so many orphaned children, she has promised us all possible help. The piece of land is in Mkuranga, which is about an hour’s drive south of the capital Dar-es-Salaam. On the adjoining land, the capital’s new university will be built.
The land is overgrown with trees and bushes – and a few mud huts in which people are still living. Many of the trees are fruit-bearing and are claimed by the local people, who live off them. In order to build the children’s village, trees need to be chopped down; therefore it has been necessary to compensate these people adequately for their loss. We don’t just mean financial compensation. The charity wishes to offer as many people as possible paid employment in the children’s village. We’re also looking at the possibility of building good housing for these people. In addition the district commissioner will ensure a road is laid, so that the land can be easily reached.
At the end of February a new boy came to live in the home. Habibu is fourteen years old and physically handicapped. He walks with difficulty and is visually impaired.
Malaika has asked the Liliane Fonds Foundation if they can do something for Habibu. They have agreed to try and improve the conditions for Habibu. The mediator of the Liliane Fonds in Tanzania has already visited Habibu and worked out a plan for him. Najma who runs the children’s home will put this plan into effect and the mediator will come along regularly to check on his progress.
Habibu’s life is becoming a lot better with the help of the Liliane Foundation!
Tanzania is divided into districts. The first children’s village will be in the district of Mkuranga. At the head of each district is a commissioner. It’s therefore very important that Haifa Kara Magi, the district commissioner of Mkuranga is fully behind our project.
And she certainly is! (of the 140 DC’s, 11 are women.). During their visit, Ted and Jamilla Koch spoke to her and a number of security personnel of the district. The district commissioner promised full support for Malaika Kids. Her door will always be open to us, she said, for example if more land were required.
We also discussed with her how the village could become self supporting. Malaika Kids has a number of ideas, which fit well with those of the DC. She added a number of other ideas, such as a bakery (bread is currently brought in from Dar es Salaam), a fruit processing plant and a technical school. The priorities of Malaika Kids and the DC are not always the same, but with such a good relationship, we feel certain that consensus will be reached.
Before we can begin working on the land we need the cooperation of the residents, and owners but above all the commitment of the Chairman. The chairman represents the population in an area and resolves local differences. A meeting with him, to gain his support, was crucial for the progress of the whole project.
The Chairman, and his followers, received us in his hut. As discussions progressed, conducted in Swahili the only language he speaks, he fortunately became more and more enthusiastic about the project.
It was important that we agreed when and how people could be compensated for leaving the land. We would have preferred to buy out the residents per dwelling, but as the Chairman expected a lot of unrest, we agreed to buy out the people per ‘Plot’. The project covers 3 plots in Mkuranga. Also by compensating residents of two Plots in one go, a planned pathway would not cut across our property but be relocated to the edge of the property.
The timing of the compensation depended on the tempo at which the surveyors were able to work and the speed with which their information could be processed in the Netherlands.
We wished to be certain that the residents would get their money and that the land would be registered in our name. It was decided that the residents should receive their money from us in the presence of the Chairman, the man from the land registry and a photographer. The resident signed, with both signature and fingerprint, a document in which he gives the rights to the land (trees, huts etc) and that nobody else could claim a right to these properties. After this the man from the land registry registered the land in our name. This can be seen in the photo.
A map showing every tree and all the cassava fields and all the contours of the area. An impossible dream? Not any more!
Thanks to the boundless energy of two enthusiastic employees from the spatial planning department of The Hague Council – Raymond Felisie and Errol Brice – the area has been mapped out in detail. Swissair provided the tickets and enabled them to take necessary, up to date equipment. Well done, Swissair!
Mapping the area is an important step for us, because the location of the buildings within the children’s village can now be very precisely planned.
The local people were very interested in the work of the surveyors and the equipment brought with them. As well as explaining everything, they involved the locals in everything they did.
For a while it looked as if the whole expedition had been for nothing. Due to the many bushes and trees, it seemed an impossible task, in the short time available, to map out the whole area. The locals would be able to make many viewing paths, but that would have cost too much time Brainstorming resulted in a new idea: measuring from above!
Interbeton provided a platform including the scaffolding free of charge. The locals helped build the scaffolding.. The measuring equipment was placed on the platform, after which the land was mapped out efficiently, in detail within two weeks.
Mwenge is a national holiday in Tanzania and a real happening. The high point of the day was the arrival of twelve limousines and a pick-up on top of which there was fire: the Mwenge Torch.
The Mwenge Torch symbolizes freedom, light and respect: ‘to shine the country and across the borders to bring hope where there is despair, love where there is enmity and respect where there is hatred’. The Torch was lit on the top of Mount Kilimanjaro in 1961 and has been kept alight ever since.
Every year to celebrate Mwenge, politicians and celebrities visit important projects in the different districts of Tanzania. In the district Kinondoni, where the children’s home is, Malaika Kids is chosen as the most important project this year.
From 10 am people came; a lot of people, in fact buses full! There was dance and music and the Malaika kids sang too. It was party time!
During the official part of the day, short speeches were made, presents were given (food such as corn and rice) and there was an opportunity to look around the home. Everything went perfectly due to the fantastic organisation of Malaika Kids Tanzania.
Last Saturday (Christmas eve) Malaika Kids took up a very special invitation. They had been invited to one of the most beautiful and expensive hotels of Dar es Salaam: the Kempinski (now Hyatt) Kilimanjaro Hotel.
In the hotel the kids were made welcome and completely spoilt with drinks, cake and a present. The high point of the evening (literally!) was taking the lift (for all the kids a new and special experience) to the top floor of the hotel. On the terrace the children were able to enjoy the wonderful view of the harbour.
A Christmas Eve never to be forgotten.
Read Our History 2006