We have made huge progress with the construction of the Happy Family Children’s Village (HFCV), which is being established in memory of Amir Visram, and we are so excited to share the details and pictures with you!
For those of you who may be hearing about this for the first time, two years ago The Small Things took on the challenge of starting a children’s village. Since Nkoaranga Orphanage already exists, why was (and is) this important and necessary?
|Buying the land (and admiring the stunning view!)|
Well, despite the existence and operation of Nkoaranga Orphanage, it is only able to care for children up until the age of five, and for a long time, children who aged out of the orphanage had to return to their villages regardless of whether there was anyone there to take care of them or not. Often this meant a very bleak outlook for the child. In recent years, the sponsorship organisation, The Foundation for Tomorrow, was able to provide a great sponsorship program for some children; however, it was not possible for them to take all children from Nkoaranga as they also provide for children from other communities, and additionally, it sometimes meant the children going to boarding school when they were not emotionally ready to do so.
|Building the foundations|
The HFCV was our solution to this! The village will house children aged five and upwards, initially in two family-style houses where they will be cared for by Mamas, and attend Dinka School as day-pupils. Staff and volunteers will be able to live on site, as well. In the future, there will also be a community centre, where families from the surrounding community can bring their children for day care, allowing parents to go to work; and a community garden where local families can grow their own produce. Much further down the track (in years to come) we hope to have 20 houses, capable of housing around 100 children.
|Ribbon cutting ceremony|
This project would not have been possible without the generous support of Shazi Visram, the CEO of Happy Family Brands, and daughter of Amir Visram (whose memory the HFCV honors); and the Seedlings Foundation. We want to extend a huge thank you to these people, as well as to all of you, who have supported the project since the time that it was only a dream in the distance. We are so glad to still have you with us as the HFCV becomes a reality!
We are delighted at the success of the Pilot House (literally a pilot program operated prior to establishment of the HFCV) – it has now been successfully running for over a year, and we are confident that the routine we have established there will continue to bring happiness and stability to the children once they move into the HFCV.
|Construction is well underway|
The foundations, walls and roofs have shot up – a credit to the fantastic architect and builders who have thus far worked on the project! We are thrilled with how the houses are looking!
Some of you may have been involved in the ‘Fill a Box, Make a Home’ campaign, which we recently ran. This project got lots of people involved in filling a large shipping container with many essential items, which are not easily purchased in Nkoaranga or nearby, to send from the USA to Tanzania, to fill the houses ready for the children to move into. Parcels of toys, books and household essentials are still arriving at the warehouse in the USA (although it is now too late to send anything to put into the container), and soon the container will be ready to leave!
|Roofs on, houses watertight and ready to be filled|
Our next step is to ask local craftsmen to make beautiful wooden furniture (like those below) for the houses, and we would love for you to get involved in this!
Specifically, our annual Spread the Love online auction, is almost upon us – we are so excited, please check out our Spread the Love auction website – and all of the money raised this year will go towards the HFCV, funding furniture and other household essentials. Although most of the items in the auction will be open for bids (naturally, since it’s an auction!), if you would like to purchase a specific piece of furniture for one of the houses, you can do this through the Fund-a-Need section of our auction. Here, instead of bidding for an item for yourself, it is possible to directly purchase and donate a chair (where a Mama or volunteer may sit to feed a baby), bookcase (where well-loved books will be stored) or other piece of furniture for the HFCV. You will know that your Fund-a-Need item has gone to a good home!
|Auction ‘Fund-a-Need’ items to fill the houses|
So, there you go! What amazing progress we have made with the support of all of you wonderful people!
Please check out our Spread the Love online auction which opens on 15 April to continue to support the progress of the HFCV. As well as the option of directly purchasing a Fund-a-Need piece of furniture, you can bid for many fantastic items, including beautiful handmade Tanzanian goods, hotel stays, jewellery, paintings and much more.
Thank you a million!