Guides with generous hearts

Guides with generous hearts


Correspondent James Lanka, interviewed the centre's benefactor, Mrs  Zainab Ansell, who gave details on how her company's tour guides have a mission with a difference.

Q: Briefly explain what drove you to establish this unique centre?
 Ans:  Kilimanjaro Orphanage Centre (KOC) was founded three years ago, in March 2009. It was the brainchild of Mwalimu Lazaro Edward, a teacher turned tour guide, and seeing the positive initiative, we moved in to support the children care programme.

The centre takes care of needy children and orphans and the most vulnerable members of our society by  providing them with food, education, shelter, medical services and assisting their spiritual growth.

Q: How many beneficiaries does the centre look after?
Ans: At the moment the centre takes care of 30 orphans, among them 18 girls and 12 boys, between the ages of 3 and 9 years. Some are in nursery school while those from seven years and above are in primary school.  The centre also takes care of other 41 homeless children rescued from the streets where they ended up for various reasons. Out of these 41 children, 25 report to the centre  daily while the rest are boarders.

Q: How do you identify the orphans and needy children?
 A: We normally involve village elders in looking for needy children as well as orphans and upon getting their names, we conduct our own investigations to ensure that the potential beneficiaries are indeed very poor, orphaned or come from extremely poor families.

Q: From your experience with orphans what exactly is the major cause of the increased number of the street children in Kilimanjaro region? Ans: First of all the major problem is the death of parents or guardians as a result of HIV/AIDs, increased poverty resulting into rural-urban migration, family disputes and other forms of mistreatment that most children find hard to endure.

Q: Where do you get the funds to sustain the programme?
Ans: As a successful business woman, I pledge contributions towards KOC operations as a way of giving back to the community, but the centre has already acquired its own farm where we grow fruits and vegetables. The produce from the farm not only boosts the food supply for the children at the centre, the excess is sold to nearby communities and helps generate income for the Centre. The idea here is to enable the orphanage operate independently in future. The Centre  will set up a poultry farm soon for the same purpose.

While we are creating a safe haven for underprivileged children, we also use the Centre to train them into becoming both productive and responsible members of the society and many will be more self reliant in the future than their counterparts who grow up in proper homes with real parents and families.

As the director of Zara (Tanzania Adventures) Tour Company, specialising in mountain climbing and game drives, I established a philanthropic arm of our Safari firm, which is known as 'Zara Charity Organization' and this charitable organization pools in 50 per cent of the funds needed to run operations at the KOC. We have various international donors but the centre founder, Teacher Lazaro Edward who works as tour guide has helped to mobilize other driver-guides to assist the centre.

FROM TABORA WITH LOVE: If it was possible, I would open a school for thieves

DEAR nephew Milambo Greetings from Dar es Salaam ...

Author: James Lanka

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