Projects amongst disadvantaged communities led by the Anglican Church of Tanzania in Shinyanga and supported by Friends of Amani Tanzania (FOAT) are independent from those at the Amani Centre, Morogoro. Funds for these projects are deposited into the FOAT account and ring-fenced for Shinyanga. Payments are made to the Shinyanga Care Mission Account which is administered by the Diocesan Bishop, Diocesan Secretary and a named church volunteer.
The constitution documentation of Friends of Amani Tanzania (FOAT) states that the application of income to the charity be used for:
· The relief of financial hardship in Tanzania, in particularly supporting the work of The Amani Centre for Persons with Disabilities, Chamwino, Morogoro
· To advance the education of people in Tanzania, in particular those with disabilities
FOAT Trustees reviewed the constitution at their meeting in December 2019 and agreed that the Charity could support work amongst the disadvantaged and disabled in Tanzania beyond the direct remit of the Amani Centre. Trustees Bridget and Leslie Green reported that Rev Stanley Sewando, Anglican Priest who had been Project Co-ordinator for the Ecumenical work at Amani, had been appointed Diocesan Secretary of Shinyanga, Northern Tanzania in May 2019.
At the invitation of Bishop Johnson, Diocesan Bishop of Shinyanga, Bridget and Leslie visited Shinyanga – one of the poorest regions in Tanzania - in September 2019 and saw first-hand some of the challenges faced by the communities there.
Learning from work with the disabled community in Morogoro, Stanley, with the backing of his Diocesan Bishop, is now developing initiatives in Shinyanga to support the disadvantaged and disabled community there.
Towards the end of March 2020, the Rev Stanley Sewando reported on the plight of the children of Buhangija, a residential school for children with albinism in Shinyanga. People with albinism in Tanzania face widespread persecution and most of the children resident at the school have been abandoned by their parents. With the fear of Covid-19, food prices had soared and the already very meagre local support they used to receive at Buhangija, had dried up. As a result, the 250 children were facing starvation. There was an immediate need to provide food over the next few months. Going forward, the plan was to develop a plot of land adjacent to the school as a vegetable garden. This would help to feed the children, as well as giving them an opportunity to learn new skills, and any surplus produce could be sold locally.
At the beginning of May 2020, assisted by a friend, FOAT Trustees Bridget and Leslie launched an appeal to donate towards emergency food supplies and for the establishment of a vegetable garden. Stanley Sewando filmed a short video (which you can watch by clicking here) to launch the appeal.
By early June 2020 some £8,000 was raised which enabled:
· Emergency food supplies to be delivered to the school on a weekly basis from the start of May*
· The purchase of 2 x 10,000 litre water tanks
· The purchase, supply and fitting of drip-feed irrigation pipes to the one acre garden plot https://youtu.be/4O6Pdkbk7Xc.
· The supply and construction of fencing around the plot
*Funds remaining in the FOAT account (circa £1,000 as at June 2020) for this project will be used for on-going emergency food needs until the garden production is ‘on-stream’ - expected September 2020 - and some refilling of water tanks during the dry season. (It is hoped that the Government will cover this cost going forward.)
The children, staff and School Board have been involved throughout the process, with some of the staff and board members contributing funds for water to fill the tanks as the rains had all but finished by the time the tanks were installed. (You can watch some of the work going on here: scything , ground clearance, clearing land. Preparing pipe connectors, Competing to finish the task, Connecting side arms, and Run the irrigation hoses. Watch as the technician instructs a teacher and girls to position the irrigation pipes and secure them in place by tying the end of the pipe to a stick: Technician instructs teacher and girls, Teacher teaches girls, Girls practice what they have learnt.)
In due course, the Buhangija Community Garden will become the responsibility of the School to run and maintain. As soon as COVID-19 restrictions allow, there will be detailed discussions and a formal handover of responsibilities from the Diocese.
Looking to the future, there are plans:
· For Amani personnel to train Christian representatives from across Shinyanga on what it means to support children and families with disabilities. This would also help bring the Anglican and Roman Catholic churches in Shinyanga closer together in their joint mission to the disadvantaged and disabled.
· To establish a Community Medical and Vocational Centre at Solwa. Currently there are no medical facilities in the Solwa area which is some 100 km from Shinyanga. If funds can be raised to renovate the buildings there, the government has agreed to supply and pay medical staff. An adjacent building could be developed as a hostel for young people with albinism to receive medical care and also to learn skills for life.