The majority of PROJECTZAWADI students live in small rural villages located between the Serengeti National Park and Lake Victoria. Most speak a local tribal language in addition to the national language of Swahili. A small number also speak English. Agriculture is the major occupation in the area and many PROJECTZAWADI students’ families are subsistence farmers.
Although most children in Tanzania find it very difficult to get an education, PROJECTZAWADI students have an even more difficult time. They are selected for sponsorship because they are orphans, living with disabled parents and/or living in extreme poverty. The number of orphans has been rising rapidly. Much of this is a result of AIDS. When children are orphaned they normally move to live with a relative or neighbor and these added children burden the household’s already difficult financial situation.
While a large percentage of children are enrolled in school, many do not attend school regularly or at all due to lack of funds for uniforms and school supplies, the belief that even if the child does well in primary school that secondary school is financially out of reach for the family, or the desire for their labor at home on the farm. In addition, the conditions at the school are extremely difficult (overcrowded classrooms, sitting on dirt floors, lack of teachers, and few textbooks, etc.). When given the opportunity however, the students are extremely eager to learn! They are very patriotic and proud of their country, generally happy and love to play.
PROJECTZAWADI’s program model, beginning in primary school, addresses these barriers to education and our sponsored students have had great success.