Text read by Mary Peters

Steven Revelian, CEO of the Karudeca NGO, Tanzania.

Steven, the CEO of the Karudeca NGO and I spoke earlier this week. I wanted to learn what was new at Karudeca, the Covid-19 situation and just see how Steven himself was faring.

Steven works and lives in Karagwe. If you look at the map of Tanzania, you will find it in the north-western corner of Tanzania, not far from the borders to Uganda, Burundi and Rwanda. It is a long way away from the capital, Dar es Salaam.

He mentioned the upcoming elections in Tanzania, which will take place on October 25. The main problem is how to mobilise the population to vote in remote areas. There is a lot of active support in getting people to the polling stations by political organisations. The main discussion topics are how to improve the schools and health care system, improve the social systems. Discussions we have in Europe and other countries as well.

Tanzania has largely been unaffected by the Covid-19 pandemic. Schools were closed for three months but the infection levels and resulting deaths have been comparably low. But like in so many other countries, people are waiting for the vaccines to be released. Here too, just as in Europe, many do not believe in vaccination and believe it will be even more dangerous than the Covid-19.

On a personal front, Steven has been away from his NGO to continue his Master’s in education management which, if there are no further upheavals, should be completed in June 2021. The knowledge will flow into the Karudeca NGO and all its staff. He comes to the NGO about once a month and directs operations remotely.

Steven also explained their Disability Project which is largely funded by a Dutch foundation called the Lilian Foundation.

Here in Europe, access to public areas for disabled people and children is relatively simple. Ramps, toilets, easy access for people in wheelchairs is now part of construction planning. Not so with schools in Tanzania. Education is free, but children with disabilities cannot be educated if they cannot get into classrooms. Of the 118 schools in the Karagwe District, only 5 are suitable for disabled children. Karudeca has teamed up with organisations to start the “Ring the Bell Campaign” to raise awareness, especially at the local government level, that disabled children have the right to education just as abled children.

The most effective way they do this is by taking 10 schools, 5 which can accommodate disabled children and 5 which cannot do this. By highlighting the differences and the consequences, enough information is gathered to provoke decisions.

But the disability project does not stop with the infrastructure. Karudeca addresses this in five areas, education, health, livelihood at a family level, social support and empowerment. And whilst the schools were closed and the children were at home, the support continued at home.

Pretty impressive for an NGO, “stuck in the middle of nowhere.”

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