Back in 2015 when I had just graduated from high school, my little cousin Angela came to stay with my mama, Rosalia, and I in Mbondole in order to get an education. I was so excited to get a little sister so I started buying her dresses and toys but mama insisted that I buy her snacks and books for school instead. So, I made a pact with her that I would always send money for Angela to go to school comfortably.
I kept that promise while I was in university in America for two years. When I went back home for the first time in 2017, I found that mama had been using the money I sent to set up a daycare/crèche for 16 other students. She explained to me that her sewing class students -mostly young women- came to school with young children between the ages of three and seven years old who disturbed the class so she needed to have a place to keep the children when the class was in session. It was only a matter of time until what was a playroom to keep the children occupied became a fully fledged crèche. Mama teamed up with Jema Ramadhani, a local of Mbondole with a Form Four education who was herself struggling to find the means to continue with school and to get a job to finance her ambitions, to make the crèche curriculum.
A conversation with Rehema, one of mama’s adult education students revealed that there was truly a great need for a full time crèche in the area. Rehema told me how she had struggled to find a place to leave her three year old son when she goes to work at the market every morning. She worried that leaving him home unattended was dangerous and leaving him with the neighbours was not always dependable. Mama’s crèche proved to be a deeply needed service for women like Rehema so, since 2017, I decided to get intentionally involved by increasing my monthly contribution and dreaming up more sustainable ways of keeping the crèche going.
Mbondole is a remote suburb of Dar es Salaam with high levels of poverty. Most of the people who live near and around mama’s compound are single mothers, domestic workers, young men who guard unfinished construction sites and small subsistence farmers. The majority of mama’s crèche users can not afford to feed their children regularly, much less pay to have them stay at a crèche all day. So, Mama charges Tshs. 200 Tanzanian shillings per day per student. This is about $2.5 a month per person yet, not all parents are able to pay this fee. Nevertheless, mama and I have still managed to build a classroom for the children to study in, are currently constructing a child-friendly toilet, and are now raising funds for a better and safer playground.
This is where you come in! Kindly help mama and I build a playground in Mbondole. No child wants to spend all day in a classroom and it breaks our hearts every time recess hour is cut short because the flimsy rope that holds the swing breaks. A playground will help us create a variety in the activities the children can do during their break and free their parents from worrying about their wellbeing because they are sure the children have a safe and comfortable place to play. You can help us make this vision possible by donating on our gofundme page here.
Thank you very much for your love and support. We appreciate you!
Bernie & Rosalia Mshana