GO Campaign’s work in Tanzania began over a decade ago. Over the years, we have heard first-hand accounts of disabled children being locked up, never seeing daylight, or, horrifically, being buried alive or abandoned on the side of the road. For the last six years, GO Campaign has supported Local Hero Brenda Shuma and her efforts to transform the lives of children with disabilities in Tanzania. Over the years, we have seen Brenda and the amazing team at the Gabriella Centre transform the lives of hundreds of children. Every child that comes through the doors of the Gabriella Centre is loved and accepted for who they are and assisted to reach their full potential.
A couple of years ago, we shared the story of Teresia. When she first came to Gabriella, in addition to her mental challenges, she had severe ADD. She could not even finish washing her hands, before she sped off and started doing something new. Unless sleeping, she could not sit still for more than a minute, and could not focus on anything. Her mother had tried to send her to the village school, but because of her inability to concentrate, Teresia repeated third grade five times. After 5 years in the same grade without progress, she stopped school entirely. Her mother was in tears, not knowing what to do.
At the Gabriella Centre, Teresia learned to cook. She now is an entrepreneur – making and selling popcorn. And popcorn is turning out to be a big business in her village. Gabriella Center helped her find a marketplace for the popcorn in the next village over, but every time Teresia’s mom starts carrying the popcorn to that store, villagers come out of their homes and ask to buy packages as she is passing by. The mom sells out before ever getting to the next village! She gets 200 shillings per bag, and all that money goes to Teresia, who then gives some back to her mom, and keeps some for herself to buy luxury items like sanitary pads for herself. Teresia has a younger sister (coincidentally named Gabriella), and one of the first things she did with her earnings was buy Gabriella two books she needed for school. Teresia is so proud, and she couldn’t wait to tell Brenda what she had done with her earnings when we visited. She keeps bragging how she is able to help her mom and sister and the smile on her face is priceless.
Every day, Gabriella Centre helps children like Teresia discover their hidden talents and realize they can be independent and respected members of their community. Brenda would love to help each of the graduates of the vocational training program launch their own small business. In addition to helping them utilize the skills they learned at the centre, they will also be changing the perception of individuals with disabilities in their community.
Right now there are six children that need help launching their business. Click here to learn more about Brenda’s Children. You can sponsor one of these children or make a donation to Brenda’s vocational training program so she can continue her important work.