Through Their Eyes

Upendo – Karanga-1

Upendo is a 9 year old girl. She has been attending the Karanga-1 day center since 2009. The Karanga-1 center began in 2007, but Upendo was not identified by BCC until approximately one and a half years after the program began. She lives with her mother, father and four siblings in a two-room, multi-family home. Her parents rent the two rooms.

Her mother works as a volunteer through BCC. As a volunteer with BCC, she receives 40,000 Tanzanian Shillings, or about $25.00, per month. Before volunteering with BCC and receiving her monthly stipend, Upendo’s mother was a stay-at-home mother. Upendo’s father is a day laborer and, on average, he makes less than one dollar per day. It is safe to say that Upendo’s family makes, on average, less than $50.00 per month. That is less than $8.00 per person, per month, for food, shelter, clothing, water and medical bills.

When Upendo first came to the Karanga-1 day center, she was carried on a mattress by her mother. Her mother was convinced that Upendo would not be able to walk or talk. For the first few months, her mother was right … Upendo could not feed herself, she could not talk, and she could not stand on her own.

Upendo frequently became ill. When Upendo became sick, her family could not afford to take her to the hospital. They would wait to see how serious the illness would become before they would visit a doctor. Upendo would sometimes miss weeks of day center services at a time because she was too ill to visit the day center, but not ill enough to visit a doctor.

Because of the poverty that Upendo’s family faced, they could not afford to eat every day. Also, Upendo had difficulty feeding herself; therefore, she was severely undernourished. Because she was undernourished, she was more susceptible to disease and sickness; her body was not strong enough to fight the harsh tropical diseases. Thanks to nutritious meals that she received from BCC, she was able to gain proper nutrition and grow stronger and healthier.

Once she became stronger, BCC staff noticed that she was able to move and crawl on her own. Upendo attended the week-long intensive training with her mother at CCBRT, where she received intensive physical therapy and her mother learned how to properly perform the therapies she needed. Over the past few years, with the help of nutrition and physical therapy, Upendo has learned to stand on her own! A few months ago, we saw Upendo moving slowly between desks to get around. She is truly growing stronger daily!


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