Since 1991 when IDYDC was established the Orphans Vulnerable Children and Most Vulnerable Children (OVC/MVC) have been one of the main areas of operation within our organisation. Rehabilitation for the street children of Iringa municipal is the service that have put us on the map on social issues due to the impact of the project.
Upendo center is one of the rehabilitation centers under IDYDC the other being Neema center in Kilolo district. Here at Upendo center many vulnerable children passed through the rehabilitation process and are now responsible adults.
Street children rehabilitation project
IOGT NTO Movement started to fund the Street Children Rehabilitation project in August 2011 with the objective of removing children from the streets and keeping them safe away from all the dangers they can face on the streets.
The project started with the blessings of District Executive Officer of Iringa Municipal who allowed social workers from his office to collaborate in the project. Eight wards from Iringa municipal are covered plus Kinondoni district in Dar es Salaam.
The project is structured to help children on the street to go back to their parent (s) or guardians. Since these children are on the streets the first step is to give them shelter. Furthermore we investigate the reasons that led them to flee their homes. It is not an easy task to get the child to open up so we build trust first.
The child stays at Upendo rehabilitation center for six months. During that period all basic needs from clothing, food, education to health services are provided. Every after a while a child is interviewed to get background information so that the process of tracing parent or guardian can start.
Complementary Basic Education in Tanzania (COBET) programme was conceived by the government in collaboration with UNICEF. The objective was to mainstream school-age children into the formal system.
At Upendo center we have a COBET class for street children in order to prepare and make them eligible to register in formal schools. This is important as it keeps children occupied and give them hope for bright future.
After completing six months the child finally gets the chance to reunite with parents or guardian. This is done after thorough preparation on both sides. The parent and the child each one must consent on reunion, no part is forced on this process. With the help of Municipal social workers and local leaders most of the time the process rather succeeds.
In rare cases where the parent refuses, legal action can be taken but only after a series of counseling meetings have failed.
We do follow up every after 90 days to make sure the child is progressing well. We usually talk to both the parent/guardian and the child to get a sense of what has been happening. This is very important as to make sure the child is not tempted back to the streets or stop going to school altogether.