Often times, holidays bring people together to celebrate with food, fun and family. However for those without families, holidays can be grim reminders of their loneliness. Agnes Mpanga (YES alumna 2011-2012, Tanzania, hosted by PAX in Wellington, CO) recently worked with others to bring some joy to children at the Watoto Wetu Tanzania children’s home for the Easter holiday.
Watoto Wetu Tanzania is a nonprofit organization helping orphans and vulnerable children in Tanzania. Since opening in 1998, the organization has supported hundreds of children and youth between the ages of 3 and 24 years old.
Agnes and a group of friends went to Watoto Wetu the day before Easter and spent the day playing a number of games with the 11 children in the home under the age of 10 and treated them with cake to celebrate the holiday. The team also raised funds from community members to donate clothes, shoes, cleaning supplies and food to the home.
One of Agnes’ friends who helped with the project volunteers at Watoto Wetu often. Agnes became inspired by her friend's commitment to volunteerism and the children at the home, so she organized this project to help even more. She also says they chose to work with children at the home because of the work done by Watoto Wetu to ensure the children have food, shelter and access to a good education.
“Helping the children lets them know there are people who care for them and want to see them succeed,” Agnes said. “I see a rising number of children who can’t be more than 12 years old begging for loose change. If we don’t help the children now, this number will only continue to rise.”
In addition to Watoto Wetu, there are a number of other homes in Dar es Salaam dedicated to helping these children get off the streets. While the group only visited Watoto Wetu for the holiday, Agnes says she has a number of other projects planned to help even more youth become better educated and knowledgeable on different topics.
“I plan to give a presentation with some of my classmates to secondary school students about geohazards,” Agnes said. “One of the topics I plan to cover is flooding. Dar es Salaam floods are known to be brutal and I believe educating students can prepare them to help in their homes should they need to.”