International Childcare Trust

International Childcare Trust (ICT) believes that all children, regardless of socio-economic background, have the right to enjoy their childhood and reach their full potential. We partner with local grassroots NGOs in Africa and Asia - managed and staffed by local people - that protect children's rights. We combine the delivery of practical assistance with capacity building and advocacy initiatives because we take responsibility for building sustainability into the projects/partners we support.
May 8, 2013

"I decided never to go back to sex trade since I want to live a better life."

Some of the girls supported by Shalom
Some of the girls supported by Shalom

“My name is Mary. We are five children in my family, one boy and four girls. We were all born in Nairobi, Kenya since my father is a Kenyan and my mother a Tanzanian. I went through my primary education in Kenya up to standard seven then my parents relocated to Tanzania. 

“My parents used to quarrel a lot and later on they separated. My father neglected us and we have never traced his whereabouts till today. My mother was unemployed and our living conditions became too hard for us since she could not afford to cater for the needs of the five children. It was at this time that she abandoned us and we were left under the care of my elder sister. We came to learn later that my mother lives in Dar es Salaam but she never cares about us anymore. At that time I dropped out of school since my sister could not afford to pay for our school fees. 

“We have lived with my sister ever since our parents left us, and she had to struggle to take the responsibility of providing for our basic needs. Life was too hard for us since she did not have a permanent job and she later on got a baby. Therefore she had an added responsibility, and we all lived in a small one bedroom rented house; life did not get any better. Most of the times we failed to get food and sleep hungry and my young sisters and brother were not able to continue with school as well.  It was at this point that I engaged myself in commercial sex work at the age of 13. I engaged in this work for one year before I met Shalom.

“This sex trade activity is very hard and most of the times I could only get very little money or even none since most of the clients claimed that I was too naïve for this kind of work. I don’t like this kind of activity, there are so many risks but I was pushed to do it because of the hard living conditions.

“Once I was enrolled in Shalom project for girls at risk, I stopped this activity since they gave me hope for a better life and I also got an opportunity to go to vocational training in hotel management course for one year which I believe will transform my life.

“There are still challenges faced during training, like lack of bus fare but I decided never to go back to sex trade since I want to live a better life and be a role model to other girls who have lost hope in their lives.
“I am grateful to Shalom for the opportunity to further my studies and also for equipping me with other skills like entrepreneurship skill, reproductive health and also moral support. My life has become better since I stopped engaging in commercial sex activity. Shalom also helped me trace my aunty whom I live with now, since my sister could not afford to cater for all our needs. If it were not for Shalom, I could still be engaging in sex trade since I had no hope for a better life, but now they have taught me how to value my life.

“My future hopes are to get employment once I finish the course I am undertaking now so that I can help my siblings. I would also like to advance my studies; maybe do a diploma in some other field of studies. I would also love to help girls like me so that they can have a better life.”

Feb 28, 2013

"I am now a productive woman."

Muloma Women’s Development Association (MUWODA) is a community based organisation that focuses on improving the socio-economic situation of marginalised women, youth and children who have found themselves in difficult circumstances.  One of the ways MUWODA does this is through its vocational training programme.  Cyrilyn is one of over 250 people who have received training.

“I attended Luke’s Commercial Secondary School and attained 3rd form in 2003.  I could not continue schooling because of lack of support.  My parents were both old and not able to fend for themselves.  I became the source of their livelihood.  While looking for support from possible philanthropists for both my schooling and support of my ageing parents, a young man pretended to be one and promised he was going to help me go back to school, but that we should be boyfriend and girlfriend.  Unfortunately, I became pregnant before schools reopened, so the idea of going to school was no longer feasible.

“My misfortune continued when the man abandoned me while pregnant and until now I do not know where he is.  I had to care for the baby alone.  During that time, I had to resort to frying and selling of cake to be able to support the home and the fatherless baby.  I was at the mercy of men.  I wanted money for the above reasons so I used to yield to most things that could have earned me my daily sustenance.  Men could call for the cake and end up yearning for me, most of which I accepted.  So I was more or less trading in my body than in the cake.

“In one of my ordeals, I came across a Fulla, driver by profession, who proposed marriage to me.  As usual, I yielded but this time with caution.  At the end, however, I was indulged into sex and the man started mistreating me.  I did not know that I was pregnant so I decided to go to the Sierra Rutile company to seek a job where a cousin of mine is.  I did not know what job I was going for.  I did not see the sister but made a friend in the mining area who kept me for some time.  While with the friend, I felt sick and was taken to hospital where it was disclosed that I was pregnant.  Left with no alternative, I returned to Kenema to ensure that the man responsible for the pregnancy take responsibility.  He advised that I go for abortion which I outrightly denied.  He refused to take care but was forced by his relations and he did for some time.

“He supported me a few months after delivery and later abandoned me and the child.  I had almost given up as all efforts to get stability in my life were failing, and then I heard about the UNDP Youth Support Project through a local councillor.  I applied and was admitted into the programme at the MUWODA Skills Training Centre in Kenema.

“I am now a productive woman after training at MUWODA and proud to say that my physical condition has changed.  My dignity as a woman is fully restored.  I no longer accept men for the simple reason of getting my daily bread.  People and groups knowing my handiwork in the kitchen now give me catering contracts and I am conveniently living on that.  My experience as a result of sharing with my fellow trainees has tremendously increased.  My advice to others out there is to have hope and prepare for future through training.”

* Name changed to protect anonymity

Feb 20, 2013

Supporting women and girls vulnerable to sexual exploitation

One of the trainees in class
One of the trainees in class

This project is currently supporting 23 teenage girls and young women, many of whom are involved in the commercial sex trade.  The women and girls are being supported through psychosocial counselling, enrollment in vocational training courses, entrepreneurship/business skills training, and training in life skills and reproductive/sexual health education. 

Following discussions with each girl on the most appropriate course for them, three were enrolled on a six month training course in beauty/hair dressing, 19 were enrolled on a 12 month training course in hotel management, and one girl was enrolled on a Early Childhood Development course, equipping them all with marketable skills in order to find meaningful work in the community or establish their own businesses.  Shalom’s social workers and community volunteers make regular visits to their homes and the training centres to monitor progress and attendance.  If any of the trainees’ attendance starts dipping, Shalom’s social worker will follow-up with the girl to check the reasons for this and provide appropriate support. 

Shalom organised group excursions for the girls to develop their confidence, broaden their horizons, and motivate them.  The girls were taken to various markets in Arusha to visit women from similar backgrounds to themselves who are now earning an income and have improved their lives; 17 hotel management trainees visited the National Parks Hotel to learn about hotel management.

The trainees formed four groups, based on their location, which meet on a regular basis to provide peer support, discuss progress and challenges, and share ideas on income generating activities.  The groups are extremely important for providing support – many of the girls had never previously had such a support base where they could confide in others and request advice.

The women and girls are expected to complete their training in late February and will be supported to secure permanent jobs or provided with equipment required to start-up their own business.  Stay tuned for further updates!