How old do you think this child, Kadogo is? And what about the man in the picture?
What did you guess? Well, Kadogo is 12 years old, and the man is about 61. Kadogo's family live in extreme poverty and so when her father received an offer from the man to marry Kadogo after she had been subjected to FGM, her father agreed for a bride price of 4 cows. In fact just 2 were paid. This extreme case of "child marriage" was reported to Rhobi Samwelly, the feisty Director of our Safe House and she and our Safe House Legal Officer, Mr Wambura arranged for the 'couple' to be taken to the Police Station in Mugumu. If you think they look anxious, that's why. The Police Commander arranged for the so-called marriage to be annulled and declared void. It is not known whether Kadogo's father knew that the prospective husband was HIV positive. Fortunately, Kadogo has not been infected.
If Rhobi and Mr Wambura had not intervened, by the age of 17 this young and immature girl might have had maybe 2 or 3 very difficult pregnancies, endangering her life and that of her unborn or new born babies. Kadogo would have had no further education and would have been condemned to life long poverty. She would be likely to be HIV positive and entirely dependent on anti-retroviral drugs, and although these are free in Tanzania, she would have been a long way from a pharmacy.
But now thanks to the Safe House team, which you support financially, Kadogo will be able to go to secondary school or vocational training and her life prospects have been changed dramatically for the better. FGM is bad in itself, but in Tanzania it is so often the first step towards girls being forced into early marriage followed by debilitating multiple pregnancies. Although there's lots of progress in health care In Tanzania, only 46% of mothers give birth with a skilled 'birth attendant' to assist, and obviously these are mostly not in the remote rural areas, like that in which Kadogo and her would-be husband live.
Now that we have raised enough money to complete the Safe House buildings- and thank you Global Givers for your support in that triumphant success- we now need to set up a fund to secure the successful running of the Safe House and Vocational Training Centre (VTC). We must raise standards and improve staffing in the VTC so that all girls leave with a national certificate in the courses they have attended, and so that Rhobi and her team can extend their work in the villages. Really we need to rename our project NO FGM and no Child Marriage! We'll work on that.
Best wishes and thanks to you all from Rhobi and her team, and from me.
Dear generous Global Givers
WE HAVE DONE IT! Thanks to your wonderful giving and the very kind support of some major grant-giving Trusts, we have now raised enough money to complete and equip the Dining Hall and Kitchen and probably to construct the perimeter fence as well- I say probably about the fence, because I’m waiting for the response of a major safari lodge operator, which will, I think provide any balance needed. In the photo above you can see some of our girls in the vegetable garden and behind the new block which is up to lintel level. At the beginning of this month we sent £10,000 (nearly $13,000) and we shall send the same again as soon as it is needed. A large team of builders is working on the project, and I anticipate rapid progress in October and November so that the rooms are habitable by the start of the ‘cutting season’ in December, even if some finishing remains to be done. The start of building was greatly delayed by heavy rains in the early part of the year. Rhobi Samwelly, the wonderful Director is such a good manager, planner and exhorter of the builders, that if anyone can get it completed in time, she will!
A Canadian documentary film maker, Giselle Portenier (look her up on Google) has been at the Safe House this past week and said ; “Rhobi is among the most inspiring wonderful women I have met in my lifetime."
If you have been a regular supporter of this project and would like to have your name recorded on a framed notice in the Dining Hall, please email me at TanzDevTrust@gmail.com. Likewise if you would be happy to have your picture there, then please email me a head and shoulders passport type photo, but looking happy!. I feel I have come to know many of you over the past years of sending you thank you letters. If you decide that you want now to stop supporting this project and to direct your giving elsewhere, the Safe House team and I thank you very, very warmly for your generous support.
The Safe House and its attached Vocational Training Centre (VTC) need a team of staff. The VTC currently offers training in tailoring, computing and horticulture, but these courses do not yet reach the level that would allow them to be certificated by VETA, Tanzania’s Vocational Education Training Authority. It is hard to retain high quality staff without providing accommodation. But if Global Givers continue to support the Safe House, it would certainly be possible to rent housing for maybe 3 staff or more. We are also applying to a Global Women’s NGO for support to enhance the staff salaries above the minimum paid now. The purpose of all this is to enable ‘our’ young women to fulfil their role as independent, income-earning adults, able to occupy responsible administrative, commercial or political posts. In this way they’ll be able to influence decisions on behalf of women and girls and serve as role models for the community; and when they marry to be better mothers, providing for the personal needs of their families and lifting their aspirations.
One of our team is at the Safe House now and another is going in November. My wife, Ann and I will follow in February, so it should be possible to provide some good up to date information and pictures and to refine future plans.
Finally, A BIG, HEARTFELT THANK YOU from all the Girls, and the Safe House Team in Mugumu and the UK.
MAKING HER DREAMS COME TRUE
Abima is a bright, beautiful and hard-working 20 year-old young woman. Last night, through the power of modern communication, she spoke from our Safe House in Mugumu, Tanzania to a meeting 4131 miles (6649km) away in London, UK. Abima told us that she had now been at the Safe House for more than a year, and that she was studying Computer Applications, Tailoring and Clothes Making and Horticulture. “My dream, when I leave the Safe House”, Abima told us, “is to set up a stationery shop”. It’s a rational and achievable ambition. Abima has the knowledge, the skills and personality to make a success of her project and TDT will try to get a Micro-finance group to give her a start-up loan.
What would have been Abima’s future if she had not fled to the Safe House? If she had survived FGM (and each year about 10 girls die), she would have been married off to a man maybe twice or three times her age, and probably by now be pregnant with her second child, after having had birth complications at her first confinement.
Like all ‘our’ girls, Abima isn’t a passive victim. She took part last year in a Human Rights march for women and she’s a role model for other younger girls. After careful preparatory work by the Safe House team, some of our other ‘graduates’ from the Safe House have been received back in their home villages with applause, and bearing new sewing machines donated by a Dutch Foundation, which will enable these girls also to begin earning their own livings. Our team leader, Rhobi Samwelly asked the girls to speak, which they did confidently and well, with message of NO to FGM! These girls, too, provide a model for others to follow. It could well be that within 10 years, FGM might be eliminated in this corner of Tanzania, which is about the same size as Connecticut, or for UK readers, Devon and Cornwall. However, the population is widely scattered and harder to reach with no tarred roads. In Connecticut, there are over 1,900 people per sq.km and in Serengeti District, just 80 (about the same as mid-Devon).
THE GOOD and BAD NEWS
The good news is that building is now well under way for the new Septic Tank and Kitchen and Dining Room. I had hoped to tell all you wonderful Global Givers that we had reached our target. The bad news is that we haven’t, because of the big fall in the value of the £GB due to the Referendum decision. Unfortunately, all recipients of UK Aid sent in £GB will see their purchasing power diminished by around 12% (at today’s figures) – so it is the poorest of the world’s poor who suffer. This means that we have to continue fund-raising with determination so that we can ensure that there won’t be another cutting season without the Safe House having a proper kitchen and dining room. This summer my wife and I celebrate our Golden Wedding, and we are asking all our guests not to give us presents but to contribute to this great project.
Thank you all for your generous support.
FIRST THE VERY GOOD NEWS!
It’s new, it’s blue, it’s shiny, it’s at the Safe House. What? The splendid new car that many of you have helped to buy.
In an email received yesterday, our project leader Rhobi Samwelly says:
On behalf of girls and Safe House staff, we would like to thank you and Global Giving donors very much for Safe house vehicle support, I know it is difficult to buy the new Land Cruiser because it costs a lot of money, BUT YOU DID. We would like to give our thanks to all people who donated and enabling the purchase of this vehicle,
Together we have replaced the old vehicle which had done years of service over the rocky roads of Africa. It broke down when it was rescuing seven girls who were escaping from FGM and five of them were snatched and forced to undergo FGM. But the Safe House car is not just a rescue vehicle - It’s a motorised ambassador for the Rights of Women, as it is the transport that takes Rhobi and her team of singers, dancers and musicians out to campaign in remote villages against FGM, wife-beating, discrimination in land-rights and all forms of inequality. One of Rhobi’s excellent achievements is the formation of clubs of young men who boldly wear T-shirts proclaiming ‘My wife will not be cut’. Our team has seen the way attitudes and stereotypes can be changed in 4 previous projects Rhobi has led. At local women’s request, village mills were built and equipped to grind maize, cassava and millet. These mills didn’t just save women trudging 20km through the bush with a huge weight on their heads and often a baby on their backs but changed the status of women in the villages, when the men saw that the women could run an important community asset and make a profit. ‘Wow! Look what our women can do’ was the amazed response.
AND NEXT THE PARTLY GOOD NEWS!
Last year we received from Global Giving an extra grant of £15,000 to establish a Food-Growing Project at the Safe House. The aim is not just to grow food and provide better nutrition for the girls, but to add another aspect of vocational training. All our girls come from farming families. Some parents have limited knowledge of good strains of fruit and vegetables to grow in the soils and climate of the area and what can be achieved with good composting so our girls have been surprised and delighted to see what they can grow in the Safe House vegetable garden. There’s now the possibility of leasing a much bigger plot and hiring a rotavator to get it ready for cultivation. We have an excellent trainer, Helen Carey- a teacher with wide experience of teaching horticulture in Tanzania. Helen has been working as a volunteer at the safe House for several months, but we can’t use any of Global Giving’s grant to pay her expenses, so she has had to go back to the UK. If anyone would like to contribute to helping Helen to go back and continue this excellent work, please donate an amount to Global Giving ending in 16 e.g. £5.16 or $8.16 and we’ll then know to direct those payments to sending Helen back to Mugumu!
FORWARD TO THE NEXT STAGE OF THE BUILDINGS
Everyone in the team is working hard to try to get the Dining Room, Kitchen and Fence built before the next Cutting Season starts in late November. We are 2/3 of the way to raising the money needed, and need the final third. Building will start very soon. So all your donations, except the ones identified by .16 in them (see previous paragraph) will be going to pile the bricks on!
AND FINALLY HOW YOU CAN HELP
Rhobi’s outreach work in the villages around Mugumu where girls are at risk of FGM is hampered by the fact that they do not appear on any maps. If you have an interest in mapping, a spare hour and an internet connection you can help us put them on the map. No experience, particular skills or knowledge of the area is needed and full instructions are here.
For those of you in London, we are having another Songs for Our Sisters concert at the Russet in Hackney on Friday May 20th – all proceeds will go to the Safe House and details are here and it would be lovely to see you there.
AND A BIG THANK YOU TO ALL OF YOU
Happy New Year and Thank You to all friends of the Safe House and 2016 is certainly a Happy New Year for baby Salama, as you’ll read below!
Wow! Think of caring for 190 hungry girls! In the last report I told you we were receiving over Christmas more girls from clans to the North and East who were holding a ‘Cutting Season’ in late 2015 to early 2016. Those girls just kept flooding in, including many Maasai girls from Arusha Region. They fought huge difficulties and heavy rains to get to the Safe House, determined that like other girls they could say a defiant NO! to FGM. Indeed, many of the them took part in a march through Mugumu proclaiming their belief in women’s rights and their dreams of secondary education instead of being married off young in exchange for a bride-price of cows.
You can watch a video of life at the Safe House here: https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=Qlno1G14q00
The biggest problem of housing 190 girls is that we have nowhere dry for the girls to eat. They crowd under the porch of the Vocational Training Centre, but this is open to the elements at the front and sides, so if the wind blows they get soaked. And there’s still no proper kitchen either. So all your generous gifts now will go to the 2016 Stage 2 Building Fund. We MUST- and We are going to get a Dining Room and Kitchen built by the end of October of this year, so that the buildings are ready and commissioned before the 2016 ‘Cutting Season’ starts in late November of this year. We must also build a perimeter fence and plant next to it some ‘aggressive’ thorn bushes. The fence will make it absolutely clear to any intruders that this is Safe House land- and it will also protect the girls from the nearby road, and hopefully their chickens from being run over. Visiting parents and relatives will be directed to the staff at the main building.
100 new mothers!
2 year old baby girl Salama was found abandoned by the side of the road and surrounded by wild dogs. The police brought her to the Safe House- our youngest child, needing kindness, clothing and food. What she got was 100 mothers! You can watch Dan Ashby’s moving video about Salama here:
And why ‘Salama’? ‘Salama’ means ‘Peace’ and ‘Safety’ in Swahili. The Safe House is ‘Nyumba ya Salama’- the House of Safety- so it was an obvious name to call her. Tanzanians when they meet ,often greet each other with ‘Salama’! So let’s hope that this little girl will grow up strong and happy and as a sign of all that the Safe House means.
Thank you again for all your support.
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