In Tanzania, many of the poorest families are unable to afford opportunities such as secondary school education that is taken for granted in the UK. Many young people have been left behind by the education sector and without the work of charities and Non-Governmental Organisations, students would likely still be wandering the streets with little chance of finding dignified and gainful employment.
Umoja is one such organization, focusing on youth development in Arusha, northern Tanzania, which was founded by two UEA DEV graduates in 2008.
Primary school is taught in Kiswahili, the national language. In secondary school, all subjects are taught in English, though after primary school many students do not have sufficient English to succeed.
In areas such as Arusha, good English is a requirement for almost all skilled and unskilled jobs, making it difficult to gain employment and earn a living without sufficient proficiency.
The charity provides a more holistic education and long-term care and support which its students would otherwise not receive. Students are given a foundation year of teaching at the centre, and lessons include english, maths, IT and key skills. Umoja, which means ‘unity’ in Swahili, aptly becomes the family of many of its students, some of whom have come from very difficult backgrounds of poverty, and even abuse or abandonment. Healthcare (including HIV testing), counselling, nutritious food, and quality pastoral care are provided, as well as help in obtaining further education, vocational training and employment. Like all NGOs, the daily functioning faces challenges, particularly relating to funding. However, the inspirational work of charities like Umoja continue to change lives and push boundaries.