For two Tanzanian children, Pact's Kizazi Kipya program offers a new future

February 10, 2021

Pact’s Kizazi Kipya project, or New Generation, works to transform the lives of vulnerable Tanzanian children, particularly those affected by HIV. Funded by USAID/PEPFAR, the five-year effort helps orphans and vulnerable children and their caregivers to access a range of HIV-related and other services. Using a case management approach, Kizazi Kipya helps enrolled families to improve their health, nutrition, education, protection, livelihoods and psychosocial wellbeing.

Joyce’s story

Joyce Mahembwa Sengalamo had a difficult time imagining any kind of a happy future for herself. At 17, she was orphaned and HIV-positive, living with her uncle in the village of Songambele, in eastern Tanzania. Songambele is a pastoral Maasai community, where women usually have few choices besides grazing cattle. Girls, who are marginalized based on their gender, often don’t get to go to school. Those living with HIV, like Joyce, face intense stigma as well.

Joyce had low self-esteem and felt depressed most of the time. Her physical health was in jeopardy, too. Dependent on her uncle, she sometimes couldn’t afford bus fare to get to the nearest clinic for antiretroviral medication to suppress her HIV.

During one visit, though, a clinic nurse told Joyce about Kizazi Kipya, which collaborates with Tanzanian health facilities as a way to reach vulnerable children. The nurse referred Joyce to Kizazi Kipya in late 2019. Soon she was enrolled and connected with a Community Case Worker, or CCW, who worked with Joyce to develop a care plan tailored to her needs. Her CCW acted as her case manager, helping Joyce to address her health and psychosocial challenges and more.

Among the services that Joyce’s CCW recommended was a vocational scholarship to a local training center to study tailoring. Joyce was interested, but her uncle at first refused to let her take part because of his belief that girls shouldn’t attend school. Joyce’s CCW helped him to understand how it would benefit Joyce, and he eventually agreed.

From June to September 2020, Joyce attended classes and practiced her skills. Her hard work paid off with a certificate in tailoring that has enabled her to earn income of her own. In addition to helping her family, the money has given her independence. She always has enough for bus fare to her clinic appointments, and now that she is strictly adhering to her medication, her health has improved.

“Now I have life,” Joyce says. “I can see what the future holds for me.”

In the photo on the left, Joyce Mahembwa Sengalamo (first right) works at her sewing machine. On the right, Derick Dioniz. (Credit: Kizazi Kipya)

Derick’s story

Now 12 years old, Derick Dioniz was born in Tanzania’s Geita region to his father Dioniz Daniel and mother Naomi Maneno. They all lived together until Derick’s parents separated. Derick went with his father, but when his dad remarried, his life began falling apart. His father’s new wife insisted that he leave the family to live with his mother, even when no one was able to find her. His stepmother’s violent treatment eventually became so unbearable that Derick decided to run away.

“I was hungry and sad,” he recalls. “She even told me to go and find food for myself because I was grown enough.”

Last summer, Derick asked his street friends how they could get away. Together they plotted to go to the bus station, where they posed as lost children and begged for money to get to another town, Mwanza, where they said their families were. It worked, but it only left Derick longing for his mother even more.

“Life on the streets was not what I imagined,” he says. “It was not safe. I wished I could find my mother and live with her.”

One way that Kizazi Kipya helps to reduce HIV vulnerability among children is by targeting those living and working on the streets. In addition to psychosocial support, life skills sessions and drop-in centers with safe spaces, Kizazi Kipya provides services to reunify street children with their parents.

Local Kizazi Kipya partner Cheka Sana Tanzania found Derick soon after he arrived in Mwanza. Although he was very shy at first, street workers persuaded him to start coming to a local drop-in center, where he eventually formed a trusting relationship with a Cheka Sana case worker. It was clear that Derick wanted desperately to be reunited with his mother.

With help from local leaders in Geita, Cheka Sana was able to find her. She was reunited with Derick in Geita in November, with his social worker, local leaders and neighbors in attendance.

‘’I feel like I am born again,” Derick says. “The street life was not for me. I want to go back to school and fulfill my dreams.”

Pact’s Kizazi Kipya partners include the Aga Khan Foundation, Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation, Railway Children Africa, Ifakara Health Institute, the government of Tanzania and local civil society organizations.