In 2014, as Amani was celebrating its 13 years of existence, we started thinking about the future of the organization and created a seven-year action plan. One of the components of that plan was to begin opening small Amani branches around the country.
The children we rescue from the streets of Moshi and Arusha come from all over Tanzania. When they leave their homes in search of work they usually go to the closest small or medium sized city. After some time – that can be weeks or months – they move to a bigger city where they think there will be more job opportunities. That is how children from different regions end up in Arusha.
The idea behind the satellites is to have small Amani Centers in those medium-sized cities where many children come from, to allow us to find them faster and bring them back to their families. As our social workers know too well, the sooner you find a child after he flees to the streets, the easier it is to bring them back home. On the streets children often go through traumatic experiences and learn new social norms that are incompatible with family life.
When one of the committed Amani supporters showed interest in funding the first ever Amani Satellite we jumped at the opportunity and started to plan. To select the area we first looked at the place of origin of the children at Amani. Then we narrowed it down by considering whether there are other street-children organizations in the area and good road communication with Moshi. Soon we had a clear choice – SINGIDA!
But there was still a lot of work to do before we could actually open the new center. These are some of the steps we had to take:
– We found a big house, signed a lease for 12 years, refurbished it, did some construction work and painted it to look like a small Amani Home.
– We hired the core team: a project coordinator, a street educator and a reunification social worker. They were trained at Amani Children’s Home in Moshi during one month.
– From Singida we hired the rest of the team: two night caregivers, a weekend caregiver, a cook and an administrative assistant.
– The new team got everything ready to welcome the children, including buying supplies and furniture, cleaning the playground and arranging the house.
– The street educator (and the rest of the team) started doing street work to start building a relationship with the children living on the streets. To be trusted you need to be known!
How will the satellite branch work?
The Singida Branch will provide temporary shelter to up to 24 children, but its primary focus will be in reunification. Most of the street children in Singida come from neighboring villages and part of them have probably not spent a lot of time on the streets. If we can find a safe home for the child he/she will be brought back home and enrolled in school. If after six months we can’t find a permanent solution for the children they will be referred to Amani in Moshi, where they can receive long-term care and attend our in-house school.
We are now completing all the paperwork and permits that will allow us to start receiving the first children. At Amani, we are really excited about this new project and we hope it will bring many more success stories to share!