By Meghan Hussey
|The holiday season is upon us: a time of giving and communities coming together. A community united in purpose is a powerful thing. This type of community can create possibilities for positive change. This is what I got to experience on my latest trip to Tanzania.
At Mosaic we strongly believe in the evidence that working with local partner organizations is the best way to live out our values and create lasting change. In Tanzania, our partner is Building a Caring Community, a program of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Tanzania – Northern Diocese. As its name suggests, Building a Caring Community is committed to promoting inclusion of children and adults with intellectual disabilities and breaking down barriers. This cannot happen without the support and involvement of the larger community. BCC has made this a major part of its approach from the beginning, locating many of the day centers near parish kindergartens and involving local leaders.
BCC and Mosaic have been working together since the beginning on reaching the goal of program sustainability. One initiative BCC has taken is the BCC Friends program. Johnson Foya, former Mosaic Fellow and currently the BCC sustainability coordinator. BCC Friends are parish and community members who make pledges to support BCC financially. Johnson has been building this program for the past couple years, giving presentations at different parishes during services to recruit Friends.
This year during my trip to Tanzania I got to witness the first annual event for all the BCC Friends. Community members from all over Moshi attended, as well as BCC staff members and some of the children from the Moshi 2 center.
First, Pastor James, the Spiritual Advisor of BCC, gave a sermon. Kaaya presented the BCC Friends with a full report on all the different aspects of the program: the centers, PROMOT health, the public schools, the young adult program, and microcredit/social business. This was accompanied by a video about BCC, entirely in KiSwahili and produced by a local videographer.
The most powerful part of the event for me was when the BCC staff went around with papers soliciting written feedback from the BCC Friends. They also passed around a microphone and asked people to share their thoughts.
Many attendees expressed happiness at the work that BCC was doing, but most impressive to me was how many talked about their desire to be even more involved in growing local support for BCC. One community member stood up said, “We thank Mosaic for coming from the US to help these children with disabilities. But we are Tanzanians; these are our children. We as Tanzanians need to care for our children!”
In international development “local ownership” of projects is a major topic. The history of aid to places like Africa is littered with examples of donors coming in and imposing what they see as a solution to a problem. When the donors leave the project falls apart because the local community did not see it as theirs and take responsibility for it. It is the different between doing projects for people and what we do at Mosaic International, which is building programs in partnership with people. In this way, we are contributing to a global community, working together for a world that is more inclusive for all people, including those with disabilities.
This Giving Tuesday, we invite you all to contribute to this partnership – a mutual effort to provide sustainable services that support people with disabilities. We are very thankful for all the support this program has received from Friends in Tanzania and around the world. If you are interested in learning more about Mosaic and BCC or contributing to our mission, please check out our website for events and opportunities in your area and online!