In memory of Shazi's father Amir, who was born and grew up in Tanzania, the Visram family and Happy Family have made a donation to The Small Things, a non-profit organization in Tanzania that is enabling them to construct the Happy Family Children's Village.
At Happy Family Children's Village (HFCV), The Small Things (TST) and Happy Family have several goals.
- To keep families together through educational and income-generating programs, aiming to enable long term self-sufficiency, independence, and empowerment
- To provide safe, loving, long-term residential homes for orphaned children unable to be reunited with family
- To support vulnerable children across the community in reaching their highest potential through ensuring excellent education, nutritional support, healthcare, and access to opportunity.
- Family style homes – at HFCV, we have already completed construction of housing for up to 30 orphaned children, who live in small, family-style homes with loving caretakers, deeply embedded and integrated into their community. These children attend day school while living, eating, studying, and generally living as a normal family would in the community. We are in the process of constructing one further house, increasing our capacity to 45 children, and expect to continue to expand over time, as demand dictates. We currently have 24 children in residence ranging from 3 to 11 years old, and plan to continue to provide safe, loving homes for them until they reach adulthood.
- Microfinance – Poverty is never an acceptable reason for a child to be in an orphanage. Our Family Preservation Program stabilizes families in danger of having to give their children to an institution, and helps children already in residential care to return home. We do this through basic business education, ongoing mentorship and monitoring, microfinance start-up grants, and ongoing loans for successful entrepreneurs.
- Organic garden – Our organic garden not only provides healthy food for the children in our residential care, it also helps to train and provide for vulnerable families (often widows and widowers) struggling to build better futures for their families. Our clients have use of various plots for a growing season, and are provided with education and all inputs needed for success. The families use the produce both to feed their children and fight malnutrition, as well as selling any surplus to seed further business ventures.
- Community education – At our newly opened community center at HFCV, we have a large library and space for adult education classes that will be open to the community. These will span a wide range of topics, including business classes, basic health and nutrition, English and computer classes, income-generating crafts, farming and animal husbandry, and any other topics for which we can find capable teachers. The teachers will be a mix of local experts and volunteers visiting from all over the world. The library will also be available to the entire community, free of charge, to encourage ongoing education, and we also plan to run drop-in tutoring sessions on weekends for schoolchildren throughout the community.
- Day care – Also at the newly opened community center, we will be providing high quality day care and pre-school on a sliding scale to families in need, to enable parents to start and maintain businesses without sacrificing their children's care. High quality preschool will also give many of these children a head start that they otherwise could never have received.
- TST has cared for over 100 children since January 2015, half living at Nkoaranga Orphanage and Happy Family Children's Village, with the other half supported in their families. Most of the children now living at home would have ended up in residential care, or worse, without our intervention.
- Through the opening of the community center, we expect to expand our reach by at least 100% in the next 12 months. The day care already has over 30 children on the waitlist.
- Through the garden, business training, and microfinance, we have kept 38 families together to date, with more than 68 children growing up in families where they belong, rather than in residential institutions. We've also returned 13 children who were previously in the orphanage to their families. By the time these families graduate from our Family Preservation Program, they've increased their income from an average of $14/month to over $100/month.
- The children living at Happy Family Children's Village have thrived measurably, many overcoming serious trauma and health issues, and continue to excel at school and at home. We have located relatives for almost, and most are able to spend time with their extended families with proper support and oversight from our organization. They are truly happy, healthy kids with bright futures, thanks to the support we've received from Happy Family.
We will have space for 45 children by the end of 2016 and, by the time the HFCV is complete, it will welcome 90-100 children.
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