THE PROJECT ON THE CONSTRUCTION OF A CHILD RECEPTION HOUSE IN PANGANI TOWN
Project Area Overview
Pangani District is one among oldest and least developed districts established since independence. It is located south of TANGA region extending from 5o 15.5S of the Equator to 6Os and from 38O 35E to 39O 00 East of Greenwich, meridian. The town is found along the shores of the Indian Ocean. A large part of the population is a mixture of different ethnic groups, Arabic influence being the dominating cultural traditions and customs of the area. People of the area are in backward position in all respects. Literacy rate belongs to a very low level. Health and nutritional status is poor, socio-economic condition as well as socio-cultural practise are also at the demeaning level. Most of the people depend on agriculture for their livelihood.
Despite government policy, for free education to all, knowledge wise, indigenous residents of the area aren’t educated except to Madrassa level only, with the exception of few individuals having at least reached Secondary school and college. Majority of youths (18yrs-0) have not gone to school and some leave secondary education, with only low average of the figure passing national examinations. Only one third of those completing primary education are able to access secondary education, meaning that many young people, end droppings out of school or fail their examinations.
Religious and ancient beliefs enshrined in the traditions and customs of coastal population which dictate every knowledge and doctrines of the area are to blame for poverty and backwardness of the area. As a consequence, the situation has affected local people from generation to generation, turning the area a breeding ground to a number of chronic social problems.
Children Status in Pangani
Children reception house construction project is located at Boza village; just a kilometre away from Pangani district headquarters. This area is situated on the eastern part of the Pangani River at the high lying area and close to the Indian Ocean. By road the area is reached from all directions throughout whole of the year. The structure is built in this area because is where the land for construction has been obtained and strategically stands at the middle with easy access from all direction.
Currently, the situation of children in Pangani is appalling. The number of children living in difficult environment has increasingly reached an alarming rate with almost nothing at all done by the Local government to contain the situation. More than 2,500 children live unsupervised on the streets of Pangani. Many of these, originally left home because of serious “push” factors, such as sexual abuse committed by close relatives, and strong “pull” factors, such as believing they can get a job to finance their own needs.
Efforts to reunify such children with their families only have very limited success because some parents or guardians reject relation with those children for fear of carrying a burden. HIV/AIDS pandemic has largely contributed to the increasing number of orphans and other vulnerable children in the district who mostly engage in rag picking; pick pocketing and participating in anti-social, criminal activities where many end up being beaten and die.
The situation has left young boys and girls compulsorily take adulthood responsibilities in order to survive thus exposing themselves into risks. They become prone to incidences of sexual abuse and exploitation due to lack of parental care and protection. As a result they easily fall victims of sex trafficking, rape, sodomy, forced marriages and child labour.
There is a blend of factors leading to such an influx of Children uncared for in streets. Some mainly, being re-marriages of widowed women tradition, absence of love and security in the families, Family disputes and regular marriage breaks-up which are common in Pangani, juvenile pregnancies and unwanted pregnancy of sexually exploited girls. From March this year, we have had rash of cases of new-born babies thrown in trash cans, river banks even thrown in pit-latrines.
Many of these innocents human being are luckily picked alive and brought to hospital for care. Such steadily increasing flow of cases in which mothers are accused of dumping babies have been caused by unwanted pregnancies at a wrong time especially among schooling young girls, marriage-break up vengeance, poverty and fear of motherhood responsibilities.
Since the beginning of 2018 many cases of child abandonment and neglect were reported to Social Welfare officer. These are children left to be cared by female parents or female guardians where experience shows that at the age of seven, they are left to live independently on the streets largely supporting themselves by begging and scavenging on the streets or working in the informal sector, without adult supervision and with little or no family contact.
Early marriages and forced marriages are among acts of sexual violence by which children are forced to escape families. Early marriage is a practice centred on wrong and misguided beliefs. The perpetrators who mostly are elderly persons feel prestigious and spiritually clean when marrying immature and virgin girls. However, moved by attractive dowry promised by the pride groom, parents of such children rarely reject the offer, ending up giving their daughters as sacrificial offerings without consideration of age and unforeseen consequences.
Child labour has been another social problem highly attributed by boom in coconut harvesting seasons. Arabs who are predominantly owners of vast coconut farms prefer child labour due to cheapness in bargaining. Harvesting of coconut is labour intensive and risky to children, many orphans and street children flock these farms during the season to do the work for money. However, many of them often die by accidentally falling from trees due to inability to master the job.
Justification for Child reception house
Pangani district and Tanga region as a whole does not have facilities or services for addressing the problem of rampant children on streets and children who significantly suffer harm and abuse at family level. There are no resources existing in the form of institutions, even if they existed not only could such institution provide care for children but studies (UNDP Report 2000) show children raised in institutions or those growing up without parental or community support are more likely to suffer problems than those freely growing in family or community level.
However, presence of any such institutions could only be helpful and meaningfully if children whose family environment proves to be a threat to their wellbeing and growth are admitted temporarily and later reunified them with foster families, fit person or community of their origin. This is the logic and ground for which an idea for constructing child reception house came into existence.
“A year and a half ago, a baby was saved from what would have been a tragic death. Her cry was heard from a pit latrine on one fateful evening. The new-born was found wrapped in a polythene paper and dumped inside the toilet near a residential area. The baby was thrown away to die. Fortunately, the baby was four days old when good Samaritan rescued her, she would have been gone forever if she was not found on time. She was admitted in Baby special care unit, where babies of her age are kept, her health started improving after three weeks at the Hospital. The next big task was to figure out where and how the Baby would spend the rest of her life without her parents. Eventually I found a solution for the baby; she is now living with a foster family in a small town.”
Moved by the incident above, with full determination, it became a matter of how would I start construction of the house structures aiming at rescuing children and keep them somewhere on a temporary basis while arrangement to go back to community is logistically made. Until now, the work has been funded by me and workforce volunteer ship from people especially from Boza village where the structure is built. Despite the project, I believe that a more concerted effort is needed to prepare communities to deal with the challenge. For such a project more resources will be needed than I can manage to do it all.
I clearly, understand children have specific needs and flourish the most when they live in a loving family home. Residential Centre care cannot offer children all they need to become productive members of the society. However, circumstances for the sake of their safety necessitate temporary institutionalization. As stated by The Law of the Child Act number 21 of 2009, Sect 13 (1) that “a person shall not subject a child to torture, or other cruel, inhuman punishment or degrading treatment including any cultural practice which dehumanizes or is injurious to the physical and mental well-being of a child”.
The law requirement in the aspect of children vulnerability which is The Law of the Child Act number 21 of 2009; Section 18 (2-3) states that “ The care order or an interim care order shall remove the child from any situation where he is suffering or likely to suffer significant harm and transfer the parental rights to the social welfare officer who shall take custody of the child and determine the most suitable place for the child which may be an approved residential home, a fit person, an approved foster parent or at the home of a parent, guardian or relative”.
Therefore, The Children’s reception House will provide urgent and short-term out-of-home care for children who cannot be adequately cared for by their families due primarily to various family problems or crises. The services in the House will be based on providing immediate temporary care to children in urgent need of residential placement, until a long term alternative living arrangement is achieved.
The project advocates the promotion of best interest of a child and safety through organizing potential resources in constructing a house which will serve as a child temporary safety for growth and educational development while waiting family reunification or foster care family or fit person as the law states. Key objectives are:
- To provide substitute care for children in a stable and safe living environment for a limited period of time as mutually agreed by parties concerned according to the individual welfare plan forwarded upon admission and no longer than two months.
- To provide a programme of residential care.
- To protect and promote the welfare of children and nurture their overall growth and development, including their physical, social, emotional and intellectual needs.
- To encourage the development of social skills, good sense of responsibility, self-esteem and self-care of the children in care.
The child reception house is to be operated in compliance with the statutory requirements as stipulated in the law of the child act number 21 of 2009. The services expected to be provided include:
Provision of accommodation in the form of small group living within the available resources of the home and facilitate individual attention, supervision and closer relationship among themselves. Provision of sufficient and varied food appropriate to the age and need of the children and arranging appropriate and basic clothing items. Also arranging or escorting children to activities or functions appropriate to their age and need.
Encouraging and facilitating contacts by families/guardians, and working closely with the child relatives for home restoration or transfer of placement. Development and review of individual welfare plans, in conjunction with the referring worker and relevant others involved in the children’s placement, through constant case discussions or review meetings. Counselling on the children’s emotional and behavioural difficulties as well as arranging a variety of age-appropriate social and recreational activities, and developing social skills and lastly providing the opportunity to cultivate children’s own aptitudes and interests.
The target group is children aged between 0 and under 16 years of age who cannot be adequately cared for by their families and expected to admit children at the capacity of 70 children at once. This may including children who experience minor health problems and have been medically assessed as fit for care in children’s reception house.
This project has potential and impact full in main streaming of vulnerable children. Their basic needs will be met and they will get new life through gaining knowledge, vocational skills and life skills. They will get love and affection as if their parents provides. Their confidence level will increase and become good asset to the community.
Lastly, despite the project being my own initiatives, it will be monitored at regular intervals by the expected to be formed team of board members, constituted with the Chairperson, secretary and 8 members. Authorities from any Funding Agency that will be interested to assist the project and Local District Administration will be nominated as members to the project board members. The board would meet periodically once in 3 months and advise on various aspects concerning implementation of project and review of the programs undertaken. The Project board members will also review the accounts of the project.
PICTURES BELOW SHOW PROGRESS AT THE SITE WHERE THE FOUNDATION IS BEING BUILT
In order to start building the reception house, I had to purchase a piece of land enough to build the structure and accommodate a recreational area. At the initial stage, I collected some materials to start construction of a foundation which is still underway. Upon availability of funds and support from well-wishers, the aim is to have a wide centre with more buildings constructed to cater for services to children in Pangani and Tanga region as a whole
Once the foundation is ready brick laying stage will follow to begin building a hostel which will be 27 meter long and 6 meter wide, will have one door and four windows, wall and once the structures is completed other small structures will follow such as separate toilets and bathrooms for both children and staff, store rooms, kitchen and a class.
Budget and Actual expenses of the whole structure
Due to price escalation of most of the items, total expenditure of the build as estimated by the architect will amount to $22,001 as categorized here under:
S/N Construction head Total Expenditure in ($)
|2||Bricks for foundation concrete||950|
|6||Wires, Ropes and Nails||543|
|7||Doors and windows||3,227|
|8||Grill for veranda||1,205|
|9||Bathrooms and water supplying equipment||904|
|10||Electrical fittings and installation||1,184|
|11||White washing, painting||909|
|12||Labour charge and ancillary works||3,227|
Based on what has started, I am determined to finish it regardless how long it may take. However, I do finally appeal to the international community to support what I am doing simply, to ensure that the project assist those who are aimed for and every child has social, psychological and other supports required to fulfil his/her potential.
THADEI KUSAI KAMISA