Orphans and widows in Tanzania

Reinforcing the rights of orphans and widows

Young people working in Nelico workshops
Children, young people and women are particularly severely affected by the Aids pandemic in north-west Tanzania. As orphans and widows, they have to cope with the loss of their family members, but often suffer from HIV/Aids themselves and are therefore pushed to the margins of society. The organisation Nelico works to support the rights and needs of the people affected in this way. The organisation pays special attention to albinos, who are often persecuted and murdered in Tanzania because of superstitious beliefs.
The Geita district of north-west Tanzania is well-known for its gold mine. However, for the local population, the mine is more of a curse than a blessing. Because of economic migrants and the area's proximity to important trade routes, the district extremely affected by the Aids epidemic.
The sexual exploitation of women, children and young people is a tragic reality. For most of the population, access to education is inadequate. The socially and economically deprived population groups like Aids orphans, young people and widowed women in particular do not know their rights and so they become socially excluded.
Furthermore, there has recently been a spate of abuse of albinos. The blood and body parts of albinos are very sought-after because they are supposed to bring good luck and riches.

Knowing their own rights
Our partner organisation Nelico works on behalf of the disadvantaged and traumatised population groups in the Geita district. It carries out information and media campaigns about human rights. It also tries to prevent sexually transmitted diseases, sexual exploitation and domestic violence. People who cannot afford a lawyer receive free legal advice. About 800 people, including many children, have taken advantage of this offer. One of the aims of our partner organisation is to protect people with albinism, and also to offer them psychosocial and material support. Information campaigns are an effective way of putting an end to the terrible cruelties inflicted on the albino population.

Creating new prospects
Each year, psychological support is given to about 600 children and young people affected by HIV/Aids. Nelico meets with them regularly in groups. Children, young people and women in need are also given material support and are entitled to medical assistance and school grants. Children who are left to fend for themselves after the death of their parents and have to survive as street children are given school uniforms and school materials by our partner organisation. Schooling opens up new social and employment prospects for these children. Nelico involves the local authorities, schools and representatives of public life in this process, so that these children are integrated into society.

Using hip-hop to fight sexual exploitation
Our partners encourage these young people to set up youth clubs. There, they talk about subjects such as HIV/Aids prevention, corruption and education policy. Our partner organisation also offers the youth groups 12 courses a year in methods of providing psychosocial support and in leadership skills. One example of this youth work is a local hip-hop group which deals with topics like sexual exploitation and HIV/Aids. Young people are encouraged to defend their interests in front of adults and local authorities. There are currently 15 youth clubs in the Geita district.

Our local partners
Nelico, the New Light Children's Center Organization, was founded in 1993 by two committed sociologists and has been working ever since to improve the living conditions of disadvantaged people in the Geita district. Its target groups are children, young people and women who have been affected by Aids. Nelico offers Aids orphans material, psychological and legal support and carries out educational and campaigning work. Our partner organisation is also committed to protecting albinos, who are persecuted, mutilated and killed in Tanzania.

Providing resources and information
terre des hommes schweiz has been supporting Nelico since 2007. Hundreds of orphaned children receive help and support from our partner organisation. Education, legal advice and support for women, children and young people will continue to be the top priorities for Nelico in future. Our partner organisation also works on behalf of albinos and organises information campaigns for the local population. The aim is to stop the abuse of albinos and enable them to live in dignity and security once again.
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