TFFT works to spread awareness about children’s rights and we work to ensure that all of our scholars know their rights and feel comfortable speaking up to a trusted adult if they experience a rights violation. In order to better our knowledge and abilities, we decided to do a study in Hai District, Kilimanjaro Region. This district has some of the most well-established structures for child protection in Tanzania. Melissa and I represented TFFT, and we also had 17 government officers with us for the study tour. The government officers included were individuals from from the social welfare office, ward education coordinators, ward executive officers, a city lawyer, and police officers.
Our tour started at Hai District’s hospital. We visited the center that takes care of people who experience abuse. At the center, a police office first receives the information when someone comes in. Then there is office of social welfare, where counseling, following up on the incidents, and processing treatment to see the doctor takes place. The last office is the doctor’s office. This center is efficient and keeps confidentiality. We were also impressed to hear that there are no street children in Hai District.
Hai District has a child protection team, and we were able to hear them explain how they began their work to spread awareness about children’s rights. They told us that through community advocacy, their work has become well respected and understood. This team has advocated for children’s rights in churches, mosques, markets, and other large gatherings. They also have a weekly, one-hour radio segment. Now, the community in Hai District is aware of children’s rights and supports child protection.
The second stop of our tour in Hai District was to a department within the police station that deals with children’s rights issues. The office has 10 staff trained on child protection and how to handle issues reported to them. They deal with issues of physical, emotional, and sexual abuse and neglect. After the district’s advocacy began to take hold, the department saw many cases reported, receiving around 10-12 cases each day. Once the community members became aware, they would report any child’s rights issues in question. Teamwork and support from the district executive director is key in making their work successful.
We had a valuable experience and learned a lot from the trip. Everyone was impressed with the work done to spread awareness about children’s rights in Hai District. TFFT’s next step will be to host a training and plan to implement all that we learned from our study tour.