Tanzania Daily News (Dar es Salaam)

Tanzania: Charity Hand From India for Handicapped

THE Indian High Commission has once again participated in a charity ceremony to enliven the welfare of disabled schoolchildren of the nation with a promise for a hopeful future.

Beneficiaries of this benevolence from local representatives of Aryavarta as India is otherwise named, were schoolchildren of Uhuru Mchanganyiko Primary School in the city of Dar es Salaam.

Participating at the ceremony as a representative of the India's High Commission was First Secretary Arvind Singh Karki and his wife Mrs Diwpa Sehgal, 2nd Secretary to the commission. Such assistance as the Indian High Commission gave to the school early this year - January 19 - has reassured the disabled of the nation that they too can lead a largely independent and joyful life if only other members of mankind can provide them with some support and keep them in mind.

In the few disabled people of a nation lies idle manpower that is potential wealth of the country. And Tanzania with quite a number of these unfortunate souls, has invested a substantial amount of the nation's resources and time in the education of these not so lucky nationals.

The nation has therefore worked with various partners to improve the welfare of schoolchildren with various forms of disability. The Secretary General of the Tanzania League for the Blind, Emmanuel Simpungwe, in one of his recent reports, says that in 1988 there were 240,000 children with disabilities of school-going age, but only 3,452 were in primary school.

The situation in higher learning institutions, he adds, was much worse. Various stakeholders in the struggle to improve life for children with various forms of physical disabilities have worked with the government in that common goal. Sathya Sai Society Tanzania (SSST), as a chief player in that mission, is active in providing a promising environment for the country's handicapped community.

The SSST is a branch of the Sri Sathya Sai Baba of India started by an India guru Sathya Sai Baba born in 1926. In 1940 Baba, at the age of 14, declared the mission to his parents and said he had come to this world with a mission to re-establish the principle of Righteousness, to motivate love for God and service to fellow man.

Since then, he has consistently called on all mankind, "To Love All, Serve All and has repeatedly asserted that the essence of all scriptures is Help Ever, Hurt Never!" Since then Baba has served the poor worldwide through acts of charity. In India alone he has build over twelve super specialty hospitals. Many people have regarded these medical facilities with admiration.

"I have been to several hospitals of repute in various parts of the world, but I have not seen anywhere so magnificent a medical institution as Sri Bhagavan Baba's Institute. Another instance of his divine gift to our people," says Dr Manmohan Singh, Prime Minister of India. Baba did not establish particular faith, but in fact brought together humanity under the principles of the brotherhood of man and the fatherhood of God.

"He exhorted a Hindu to be a better Hindu, a Muslim to be a better Muslim and a Christian to be a better Christian," one report on him says. Baba himself clarifies on that by adding: "I have come to light the lamp of love in your hearts, to see that it shines day by day with added luster.

I have not come to speak on behalf of any particular religion; nor have I come to collect followers for any doctrine. I have no plan to attract disciples or devotees into my fold or any fold. I have come to tell you of this Universal unitary faith, this Atmic principle, this path of love, this duty of love, this obligation to love."

In Tanzania SSST, his religious mission he started decades ago has carried out many charity ceremonies like giving clothes, walking, learning aids and meals to the poor. With donor assistance and aid from various stakeholders like the Indian high Commission, the SSST has taken thousands of the poor sick to India for medical treatment.

An admirer of Sai Baba's service to the society, Dr A.P.J. Abdul Kalam, Former president of India explains why education is one of Sai Baba's chief areas of assistance. Healthcare is not just medical care. Medical care is one of components of what you all are doing.

Actually, health care is medical care, education and nutrition. Healthcare happens only when all these three are combined... An anti-ballistic missile has been launched by Baba against poverty: through education, water and healthcare," he says.

And so, with partners the SSST provided meals at a charity ceremony for the handicapped schoolchildren of Uhuru Mchanganyiko Primary School at the school's campus in Dar es Salaam on that grand day in January.

The ceremony, attended by various stakeholders and different donors to the cause of alleviating poverty for the handicapped children of the school, was graced by the presence of India High Commission First Secretary Arvind Singh Karki and his wife Mrs Diwpa Sehgal as chief guests. Such deeds of love have a significant impact on handicapped schoolchildren.

Giti Masule, Programmes manager for Action of Disability and Development, a non-governmental organization, says Tanzania has 135 primary and 10 secondary schools which admit people with disabilities, but studies indicate that most of them lack the necessary facilities, especially teaching equipment.

"The situation is just as pathetic at the higher levels of education, especially in vocational colleges that were initially designed for people with disabilities," his reports explains. According to Education Performance report 2010- 2011, In 2011, only 0.35 per cent of all children enrolled in primary school were children with disabilities.

In secondary schools, 0.3 per cent of boys and 0.25 per cent of girls have disabilities. One report says that fewer than five per cent of disabled children in Tanzania go to school. Even if they can get there, sustaining that vital education isn't easy: "Inaccessible buildings, a lack of suitable teaching materials and a shortage of teachers make a very difficult learning environment.

"They especially need teachers who know sign language and understand Braille. All this is compounded by the negative attitudes of education authorities and society in general," the reports adds. According to the report, "On average there is one textbook for every 5 students and 1 latrine for 54 and 51 boys and girls respectively.

"This is far below the normal pupil: latrine ratio of 25:1 for boys and 20:1 for girls and impacts especially on girls' attendance and performance." Indian High Commission in Dar es Salaam has played a big role in providing Braille and other teaching equipment for the Uhuru Mchanganyiko Primary School for the disabled.

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