Upendo means LOVING and this group was founded out of sheer necessity by local leaders in the surrounding community and assisted by Father Aloyce and the Roman Catholic Diocese which runsHuruma hospital.All of these childrenare AIDS orphans and in many instances they have lost not just lost a parent but also many members of their extended families: parents; siblings; aunts; uncles; cousins. Before the UPENDO club was founded they were living on the streets surrounding the hospital in dire conditions, a threat not just to themselves, but also to the entire community.Traditionally in Tanzania, prior to the AIDS crisis, the extended family would step in to support these orphans. This support, however, has been eroded by the sheer number of those who have died. Plus a significant stigma is still attached to Aids sufferers and even to these children. Although this part of Tanzania is mostly Christian there are still witch doctors and superstition strongly suggests that Aids is a punishment for prior bad behavior.
The mission of the UPENDO club is a simple one. It is to provide food, clothing, medical care & other aid where possible in the hope that if these needs are taken care of then the children would be accepted into the homes of extended family members and brought up in loving family units. There are now an astonishing 425 orphans in this program with the local community organizers and the church providing maize & beans to the children’s families and the hospital providing free healthcare. All of the children attend school until 13 – 14 and then the UPENDO club is active in attempting to raise the necessary funds for the brighter children to attend secondary school, in this case local state day secondary schools.
- Storage Silos: To date funds have been raised to build 2 silos: one for grain and one for beans. Silos enable Father Aloyce to buy in bulk and therefore at cheaper prices. Additional silos are needed.
Cost: $1,000 each
- Food: MAIZE & BEANS. Prices vary considerably from year to year with the present year, 2012, presenting serious problems due to drought conditions. Maize is the staple of the diet with beans the vital and often main source of protein for these children. Many children exhibit the classic symptoms of MARASMUS a disease cause by lack of protein. Funds provided to date have already been attributed with saving lives.
Cost: At current prices the annual food cost is:
150 Bags of beans @ $60 per bag is $9,000
300 Bags of maize @ $32 per bag is $9,600
Divided between 425 children the cost is approximately $44 per year to feed each child and assist the family members who are taking care of them.
All schools require that children wear a uniform. This is an additional burden for the extended families as uniforms cost approximately $25.
The UPENDO club children live in a relatively more urban environment with access to State Secondary Schools (Ages 14 – 18). These schools cost approximately $200 per year for 4 years, for a total of $800. The goal is provide Secondary Education aid for the brightest of these children. Education offers the only realistic escape from poverty for these children.