But you, God, see the trouble of the afflicted; you consider their grief and take it in hand. The victims commit themselves to you; you are the helper of the fatherless.
At Bread and Water for Africa®, we value our longtime partners in orphan care in Kenya, Zambia and Zimbabwe who we have worked with for decades ensuring that orphaned and abandoned children are not lost to the streets but have found homes where they are fed, sheltered, educated and loved by caring staff and administrators.
But that does not mean that when we become aware of another grassroots nonprofit organization in need of assistance which shares our mission to help vulnerable children and youth with no one and no place to live, and turns to us for help, that we will turn away.
Such is the case in Mwanza, Tanzania where the organization, Watoto Wa Africa (Children of Africa), which operates an orphanage in Buswelu, is being threatened of closure by the government’s social welfare department if critical infrastructure improvements are not made.
“The orphanage aims to promote an environment for the most vulnerable children in which they can play and positively develop to reach their full potential,” explained founder and director Josephat Kirutu Robogo, adding that Watoto Wa Africa “is dedicated to providing a s safe environment to meet their basic needs and enrich their minds and spirits.”
In his “Plea for Help” to Bread and Water for Africa® after learning about us online, Josephat reached out to us saying that the government officials gave him a list of what was required to keep the orphanage, which currently is caring for 86 orphaned and “street children” ranging in age from 1 to 17, operating.
“The orphanage has been challenged to deal with the needs of the rapidly growing number of requirements and is need of support to upgrade the living standards at the orphanage,” he told us.
Among the areas of concern is to improve the living conditions in the dormitories including a lack of adequate beds and bedding.
To address that issue, Bread and Water for Africa® is hoping to be able to fund the purchase of new mattresses, repairing existing bed frames and the purchase of 30 additional new ones along with new bed linens, as well as supplying all the children with mosquito nets to protect them in the high malaria region.
The grant request of $4,350 is not insignificant, but we feel it is reasonable to ensure the children are warm and safe in their beds at night, and the mosquito nets will help to prevent them from getting malaria which is among the leading causes of illness, and even death, in many sub-Saharan African countries, including Tanzania.
The orphanage is desperate need of the funding assistance as Josephat explained, in addition to the upgrades, it is already operating on a shoestring budget to come up with the funding to provide the children with three meals a day, pay electricity and water bills, and, as Watoto Wa Africa is sending all the children to school “paying the necessary school fees has been a big challenge.”
(He commented that, “Over the years we have had success in providing children with a good education, sending almost all of them to secondary school – which is well beyond the Tanzanian average – and even a few to University, which we are particularly proud of.”)
For now, the orphanage relies primarily on a single primary supporter to cover the operating expenses of feeding the children, but “that is barely enough,” he said. “Other than that, some local small businesses help us out with small one-time donations whenever money runs out.”
While we realize that funding the upgrades in bedding will not address that core issue, Josephat told us he is in the process of initiating some business strategies to help make the orphanage’s operations more self-sustaining, a goal we at Bread and Water for Africa® wholeheartedly endorse, encourage and support among all our orphan care program partners.
The children living at the Watoto Wa Africa orphanage have been evaluated by government social welfare department staff to ensure that they are, in fact, “either orphans without anyone to care for them or other vulnerable children who have no one or nowhere else to go,” says Josephat.
Imagine that, having no one or nowhere to go – but for these children, most likely both.
Josephat is not asking for help for himself, but only to be able to keep operating the orphanage he founded more than 20 years ago in 2000 and providing a home for those in his care until they are old enough to make one for themselves and their families to come.
But for now, as he says:
“Without this project, the government might be forced to shut down our orphanage…your support will enable us to continue serving this great need.
“They are the beneficiaries. They are the ones suffering.”