Meet Oskar. He is almost 17 and currently lives at "Child in the Sky" which is part of the Watoto Foundation. A few years ago Oskar was living on the street, had some issues with drugs and had very little chance of a successful future. Currently he is studying welding, is drug free and has a much brighter future.
|Oskar and two of his roommates|
The Watoto Foundation is an organization in Tanzania that focuses on taking homeless boys, living on the streets, and helping them create a sustainable lifestyle. This organization is targeting a group of boys who have no one looking out for them, and is showing positive results. They begin the relationship by talking to the boys and getting to know them. After that bond is formed, the boys are invited to live at the center in Arusha: Child in the Stars. First a boy spends 3 months here, proving that he is serious about wanting to make a significant lifestyle change. From Child in the Stars he will go to Child in the Sky, a vocational training center of sorts, outside of Arusha. Typically each boy spends 3 years at the Child in the Sky.
They attend school in the morning, and learn vocational skills in the afternoon. For the first 13 months the boys rotate through a variety of skills, studying farming, carpentry, welding and masonry- to name a few. The next 13 months are spent mastering the skill they choose. Once training is complete, they begin to look for a job in Arusha. For the first 6 months on the job, they continue to live at Child in the Sky but they must pay rent, furnish their rooms and pay for their meals. After that six months, they begin their lives outside of Child in the Sky.
Many of the boys living here have some of the highest exam results in Tanzania, and one graduate of the foundation is currently in University and on track to become a doctor. The boys all speak almost flawless English- which sabotaged Mama Gaude's instructions to my class to "try and only speak Swahili!" (The result was I spoke to Oskar mainly in Swahili and him answered primarily in English. We both got to practice) Child in the Sky houses and trains about 50 boys at any given time. In addition to school and vocational classes, the boys are responsible for maintaining the gardens, cooking meals, taking care of the animals and an assortment of other maintenance tasks. This program is a great example of the kind of help Tanzania needs. By focusing on a specific population, using a structured format and having goals that are clearly delineated, Child in The Sky is a success.