“When we save our children, we save ourselves”
Close to half of all Tanzanian children live in single parent households. This leads to challenges for the parent when it comes to working. Even in two parent households, it is often difficult to make ends meet on one income. The situation becomes so dire that many parents are faced with the option of working and leaving the child or children (often under the age of 2) at home by themselves, which means they can provide food for themselves and the child, or staying home to care for the children, and then not being able to provide food for either themselves or the child. Many faced with this dilemma will opt to place the child in an orphanage rather than see the child starve. After talking with community leaders and families in the Monduli area, we decided to open a daycare for families that are unable to afford childcare. We started the daycare in January of 2016. In 2017, after consulting with district officials, we transferred to ownership of our daycare to the NGO run by our close friend, Nakaji Lukumay. It is now Emburis Daycare Centre, managed and staffed by local women. As with Emburis School, we subsidize salaries and operational costs, and are available to consult when needed.
Although we would love to provide care for every child in Monduli, our facility makes it necessary to limit how many children we enroll. Our capacity is 24 children, however, we prefer to stay around 18. When a parent asks if their child can attend, we start with a comprehensive assessment of the child and family, and this is done in their home. Admission is based on need. Once the child is accepted we do a health assessment and nutritional screening. Many of the children in our daycare have been in food scarcity situations – they may be eating only one meal each day. Some will be eating less than that. And because drinking water is a luxury in this area, most children are chronically dehydrated.
The children in our daycare are cared for by local women who have been trained as nannies. Our kids receive two nutritious, high protein meals and one snack each day. They also received high-quality vitamins and as much water as we can get them to drink. Their days are filled with playtime, arts and crafts, and reading books.
Facility: Last fall we opened our new daycare facility. Our summer volunteers (and one local volunteer) spent a lot of time decorating our rooms so that they are bright and welcoming. We are currently working on getting some playground equipment.