Neema Crafts 2020 Child Sponsorship Report
2020 has been a tough year for everyone and so we have been extremely grateful to continue to receive the support we have for the nine staff children at Neema Crafts. When Tanzanian confirmed its first case of CV19 in March, there was palpable panic across the country and there was a strong expectation that we would follow the neighbouring East African countries in a full-scale lockdown. Fortunately, this never happened and the government rightly saw that such measures would have been more dangerous for a large percentage of the population who live by subsistence farming. Instead, the country was called to three days of prayer and fasting and schools and universities were closed for a couple of months. By June it was apparent that Tanzania was not being hit as badly by the pandemic as experts had predicted. Although testing was not widely available, culturally, everyone knows when a death or funeral happens within the community and we just weren’t seeing or hearing about a greater number of deaths. Certainly, the litmus test across our own 110 staff seemed also to indicate that people just weren’t getting sick, for which ‘tunamshukuru Mungu’ – we praise God!
The schools were reopened by mid-June, by which point we felt it was also safe for us to re-open the Neema
Crafts Centre after two months of being shut down. During our own shut-down, the tailoring staff were not content to sit idly by, but began to make high quality PPE (masks, face shields and hospital gowns) for hospitals and dispensaries across our region. Once trained, they were producing 800 masks, 200 face shields and 50 gowns every week. Neema Crafts launched an appeal to our churches to support this venture and miraculously the money raised for this was exactly enough to cover our payroll for two months of shut down.
Despite freedom of movement and business across Tanzania, the centre did not re-open to ‘business as usual’. Up to 75% of our normal income during the peak months of July, August and September had been lost overnight, due to lack of travel and tourism. This situation has sadly continued for the rest of the year. Neema Crafts has done what it can to find new markets. The project’s latest venture is to launch a web-shop that will operate in the major cities across Tanzania and possibly East Africa. Starting with a depot in Dar, we anticipate that we will reach the more dispersed market via targeted social media ads and a same day delivery service. We are yet to see whether this approach will help to see the centre paying full wages until the covid threat is over.
Some highlights for the child sponsorship programme this year are that, firstly, children have been back at school since June, having only missed a couple of months. We have been able to send Mariam Jabiri, to study for her diploma in Environmental Health after she performed really well in her form six examinations last year. She has already begun to gain top marks across her modules for this and is now planning her field study for 2021. Richard (Bibi Lulu’s grandson) has been able to attend school in Dodoma after he found it difficult to return to his school in Iringa having suffered an unexplained bout of epilepsy. We have also been delighted to see how well Angel (Mama Artilia’s orphaned granddaughter), has been taking to school and all of the friends she is making there. We occasionally have a visit from Filipo Mgaya, (who’s hand was badly burnt at a young age) and he still seems as bright and buoyant as ever. Zephenia, Enny and Yabet’s first born son continues to do really well at school and is growing up to be a good role model to his two younger brothers Francis and Ruben.
We have a growing list of employees’ children who would like to apply for sponsorship from People Against Poverty in 2021, so we are praying that more people see the great value in investing in the future of Tanzania in this way.
With best wishes
Ben and Katy Ray, Directors of Neema Crafts, Tanzania