The whole world is going through such trying times in this era. 2020 has been a fearful year from the very beginning; first it was fear of an outbreak of war, then the invasion of locusts in our neighboring country, Kenya, and now the COVID-19 pandemic that has infected the whole world. Indeed, it is a challenging time.
Through all this, the focus of TFFT is still on our scholars, who are most vulnerable in their communities. One month ago, the government of Tanzania issued an order to close down all educational institutions as a result of the emergence of the first patient case of Coronavirus. TFFT made sure that our scholars got back home safe and sound, while taking necessary precautions. Since then, the ministry of health in Tanzania has made every effort to create awareness about the disease and precautionary measures each individual needs to take to prevent themselves from being victims of COVID- 19. Although the country has not issued a complete lock down, the government, through its local structures, is reaching out to communities and sensitizing them on taking necessary measures to reduce the spread of the disease.
It is a challenge for our scholars to stay at home during this pandemic, considering the vulnerability in their households. 70% of our scholars cannot access resources to take precautionary measures while at home. This percentage of our scholars either live in slums or in the outskirts of Arusha City where food, and especially water, is a luxury.
TFFT visited families of our scholars who are in dire conditions to gauge the intensity of the effects of COVID-19 on their livelihoods. The socio-economic effects that the pandemic has had on parents and guardians of our scholars cannot be understated, some have been laid off their jobs, most of whom sell groceries in market areas are very fearful of the situation and cannot conduct business as usual. Further, a larger percent of the economy of Arusha massively depends on the tourism industry. This trickles all the way down to individual farmers in the village.
In light of these significant trickle down effects, TFFT, with help of our donors, have provided families with emergency relief packets that will help feed members of the household and empower them to take responsibility with precautionary measures, such as frequent hand-washing.
While our scholars are out of school indefinitely, they are provided with home assignments that will keep them busy as they wait for schools to open. TFFT acts as a liaison to make sure that the assignments are available to the students and are worked upon.
We have vividly witnessed the benefits of investing in educating the young generation, especially in this time of the pandemic. Our scholars have been on the forefront in their communities: sensitizing their guardians, siblings and neighbors to wash hands, avoid crowded places, cover their mouths when sneezing or coughing, and other measures. Most families we visited had no clear information about the disease but attest to how their children (TFFT scholars) educated them about the disease.