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Uchira's first Christmas
£610 Raised
31% of £2k goal
24 contributors
3 Years running
This fund raiser is to help bring Christmas to the children living in Uchira village, Tanzania for the first time! Please help me to make their first Christmas one to remember... More ...

In 2013 I have been volunteering as the manager of an NGO in Uchira village. Uchira is situated in the foothills of Mount Kilimanjaro Tanzania.  Life here is very different to what I have known back in the west. Most families are very poor and struggle to pay for basic needs such as food, shelter and education.  Whilst here I have had the privilege of getting to know some of the families in the local community. One thing that stands out is how grateful the people of Uchira are for even the simplest things in life.  When families are struggling to provide food and shelter providing education and stimulus for your children takes a back seat. Simple things that help a child develop such as stationary or learning aids are close to non existent outside of the schools. The schools themselves are also out of reach for many families, education here is not free like in the west and families work hard to pay school fees to educate their children.  When it comes to the very young children its is hard to provide stimulus for them. Their injinuity in creating toys is quite awe inspiring. However when the majority of the materials used are rubbish from the street it is far from ideal.  One afternoon a small boy I know came running toward me, with a huge smile as always. He held out his hand and clenched in his tiny fist was a bundle of sharp rusty nails. The boys name is Andrea and he is two years old. I need not mention the health issues and dangers of a two year old playing with such items. However that day clinking those nails together was the closest thing Andrea had to a toy. The next day to try and combat the children playing with rubbish, I headed off to the local town and purchased some small white boards. With in minutes of returning back to the village the children lay on their stomachs waiting patiently for their turn to practice the alphabet. They are still used a lot however next time I will buy blackboards, unfortunately the pens dry out quickly in the Tanzanian sun! That evening I gave them all a ball to play with, 3 weeks later the seven or so children who live near my home no longer play with litter as they have a ball and somewhere to write. That is only seven though. I cant express enough how important learning aids, toys and stationary can be for a childs development. Things like this are precious here, One boy I know got his hands on an exercise book. When he did he couldnt write anything but a few numbers, a week later in my English class he came over smiling having written the alphabet for the first time in his life. He only learned how to do that as he had the chance to.

  With this in mind I began to think about how I can firstly put a stop to the children playing with rubbish and secondly provide the children with stimulus both academic and creative as both need nurturing in the developing mind of a child. When I thought of such things Christmas came to mind, when I was small I received books and toys and pens and pencils and so on at christmas. I knew that here in Uchira that providing such items for your children is completely out of reach. It was at this point with Christmas approaching I made a decision to try and bring Christmas to the children of Uchira for the first time.    97% of the children in this project come from severely impoverished homes. Most live in 1 room houses with multiple occupants. All these homes are without water or electricity. A few children in this project actually have no home; thankfully due to the sense of community spirit here local families provide space for them to live, we are trying to help them find something more permanent. Water can be quite a distance from the home at communal taps, you must buy what you need at the tap and carry it back to your home. When it comes to meals most parents must spend hours building fires outside to cook. Mostly maize is eaten here, flour and water is mixed and heated to form "Ugali", a filling meal that lacks any nutrients. When I was researching the project a local boy told me of how rice is eaten as a tasty treat on Christmas day; a far cry from the Christmas feasts I have grown up with back in the UK. Imagine the difference you can make here by giving up one or two christmas luxuries this year and sharing that with Uchira.   The children we will be helping are aged from 1 years to 10 year. Most of the children here have never experienced the excitement of unwrapping a present, or reading a book or writing a story. The simplest things that we take for granted whilst growing and developing back in the West. Most haven't even received a gift of any type.                                                                 

 It seems so simple but this is a chance to provide a child with many things for the first time. A chance to read their first book, a chance to draw their frist picture, write their name for the first time even play with their first real toy. I think more importantly it is a chance to show the people here what the real spirit of Christmas and sharing means and you can only do that by having your first Christmas. 

 We have set a goal on this page, if however (fingers crossed!) we manage to go over this target, there are countless more children here that can we can add to our project.

Asante sana, a big thank you and Merry Christmas

from John and the children of Uchira.


(All the children on our christmasinUchira page, also need assistance with their education funding in the years to come. If you want to know more about helping in this way please email me for the details)



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