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A story of hope: The Dogodogo Centre

Established in 1992 by Maryknoll Sister Jean Pruitt, the Dogodogo Street Children Trust was created in response to the growing number of vulnerable children coming from rural Tanzania to Dar es Salaam. (Dogodogo means “little ones” in Kiswahili.)

Some had run away from home because of child abuse; some were running towards a better future. Taking a holistic approach to children’s needs, the Trust seeks to provide shelter and education, promote justice and overcome the poverty and exclusion of some of Tanzania’s least visible children – that is, children living on the streets and without parental support.

In 1992 the Trust opened a drop-in shelter, the Dogodogo Centre, in Dar es Salaam. In the first 15 years more than 1,500 children benefited from the center’s services including education and vocational training. In addition to helping many children to return to their families or to emigrate into the wider community, the center also seeks to protect the children’s basic rights.

In 1996 the Trust opened the Kigogo Home in the suburbs of Dar es Salaam. Trained staff members provide key services for up to 60 street children at any one time. The Kigogo Home provides shelter, nourishment (of body and soul), education (all the children attend local primary school and many become prefects), healthcare, arts and culture, sports, counseling and family reunification.

The Trust also runs a vibrant program on HIV and AIDS, using theater and the arts to reach children in more than 20 villages, and a successful anti-drug program. The incidence of drug abuse is significantly lower among street children in Dar es Salaam than among children in other major African cities.

The Trust served on a government-led steering committee to promote policy development on issues affecting vulnerable children and pioneered the National Network for Children and the Global Network of Religions for Children.

See: The Dogodogo Centre

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