In July, our founders Phil and Wendy Wall MBE visited our partners in Tanzania. Here are their reflections from the trip.
Since we started WeSeeHope all those years ago in 2000, we have regularly travelled to see our programmes first-hand. It is a wonderful opportunity to connect with the incredible children and young people who are part of them, and to further build on our understanding of our work.
Having not visited the region for a few years, we were both excited to be heading to Tanzania.
Whilst the UK and Tanzania have an almost identical population size, Tanzania has an overwhelmingly young population with 43% of people being under the age of 15. For context, in the UK, it’s only 17% (The World Bank).
Coupled with high poverty levels, this skew creates tremendous pressure on the country’s limited resources. In the lowest income households, particularly in rural and isolated areas, children face great challenges to accessing healthcare and an education, and are at risk of marginalisation and abuse.
As we made our way across the country visiting our partners Cheka Sana and Fanisi in Mwanza, followed by ZACA in Zanzibar, we saw several of our community-led programmes that have such an important impact on the lives of children and their families. These included the:
- Child Rights Programme where we met children whose lives had been transformed by understanding their rights to an education, protection and to having their basic needs met, along with the structures put in place that actively protect them. We are pictured above with a Child Rights Club in Mwanza set up through the programme.
- Kids’ Club Programme where we saw vulnerable children learning through play and accessing emotional support in a safe space.
- Street Work Programme which increases the social and economic resilience of children and young people who are living on the streets, and provides skills for a brighter future.
- Vocational Training Programme which supports young people who have dropped out of school to learn practical skills such as tailoring, carpentry or hairdressing.
- Village Investors Programme (VIP) where we met parents, guardians and budding young entrepreneurs who had established savings and loans groups which help them to save regularly and earn an income through a new business, improving their family’s wellbeing.
As we make our move to the US and finalise our plans to help accelerate the growth of WeSeeHope USA, our time in Tanzania has left us feeling more motivated than ever.
Here are five of the key takeaways from our trip:
CHILDREN ARE AT THE CENTRE OF EVERYTHING WE DO
Over the years, our work has – rightfully so – become much more holistic; we not only work with children, but the entire family and community network around them. It is one of the things we are proudest of and what makes WeSeeHope so impactful. This was more evident than ever on our trip.
In Tanzania, we are currently working with almost 2,700 parents, guardians and community volunteers. Whether its parents or guardians learning community banking skills through the VIP, or the volunteers training to become facilitators of Kids’ Clubs, we create and enhance structures that help children to thrive.
COLLABORATION IS AT EVERY STAGE
All of our programmes are delivered in partnership with local NGOs and community-based organisations who are specialists in what they do. It was great to meet many of their team members who are an extension of the WeSeeHope family and without whom none of our work would be possible.
Joining us on our trip was Oswald, WeSeeHope’s Africa Director, pictured above (second from the right) with the team from Cheka Sana. Watching Oswald interact with our partners was like watching a master at work. His ability to listen, understand the local context and build relationships – not as beneficiaries of what we do but as colleagues – is the foundation for genuine value-adding partnerships.
WE ARE CONSTANTLY EVOLVING ELEMENTS OF OUR WORK
As we made our way across the country, it was very clear that no two places are the same. From the urban streets of Mwanza to the rural coastlines of Zanzibar, every community has their own unique culture, values and challenges. It was great to see how we are constantly evolving and adapting to the ever-changing circumstances of each community we work with.
For example, whilst visiting ZACA, we were able to learn about some of the pilot projects currently underway. These ranged from literacy classes for VIP members in need of extra numeracy and literacy support to help with the running of the savings and loans groups to food gardens that are helping older children who had recently left Kids’ Clubs to earn an income.
A particular highlight was visiting business centres where vocational training graduates are working together to enhance their offering to potential customers.
CREATIVITY IS EVERYWHERE
We were amazed by the ingenuity of some of the business owners we met.
From graduates of the Vocational Training Programme crafting beautiful bed sheets, pillow cases and even party dresses, to members of VIP groups starting businesses in mechanics, food stalls and grocery stores.
It was incredible to meet so many purpose-driven, thoughtful entrepreneurs who were identifying ways to meet their community’s needs whilst harnessing their creativity and passions.
SOME IMPACTS CAN’T BE MEASURED
Those who know us well understand that solid data is very important to WeSeeHope and we have made great progress over the last few years with the development of our dashboards. However, some of the things we saw and experienced in Tanzania showed us there are many impacts to our work that simply cannot be measured with data. Whether it was the deep pride people had in their new businesses or the smiles on the faces of children holding up their artwork showing how their lives had changed – a before and after image – as a result of the club.
Throughout the trip, we were deeply moved by the grace, courage and unconditional love expressed in many of the groups we visited.
These intangibles are profoundly ‘tangible’ in how they pump, prime, and catalyse change in young people’s lives, and remind us once again that hope is an infectious and transformational reality in the lives of the thousands we serve.
Thank you so much for your continued support.