The Sisters of Mary’s latest project are exciting plans for a new training and day-care centre for Tanzania.

A new, three-storey, multi-purpose centre for young, unemployed and unskilled women from the poorest communities in Dar es Salaam will start construction this summer. The new building will be situated in in the Kiluvya Area, Ubungo Municipal, north west of Dar es Salaam.

While the young women receive accredited vocational training in sewing or commercial cookery, their young children will be looked after at a Kindergarten attached to the training centre.

Meeting an urgent need in Tanzania

This new venture will be fulfilling a vital unmet need in Tanzania for quality vocational training. Millions of Tanzanian children and adolescents do not gain a secondary education or vocational training.

According to a Human Rights Watch report in 2017, it is estimated that a total of 5.1 million children aged 7 to 17 are out of school, including nearly 1.5 million of lower secondary school age. Formal vocational training is unavailable to many of the children who want it. There are only three technical colleges in the whole of Tanzania, with none in a major city like Dar es Salaam.

3D Image of the proposed new vocational training centre  in Tanzania (Overhead)

3D Image of the proposed new vocational training centre in Tanzania (Overhead)

3D Image of the proposed new vocational training centre in Tanzania (Front)

3D Image of the proposed new vocational training centre in Tanzania (Front)

Girls in particular face many challenges accessing an education on account of their gender. Almost two out of five girls marry before 18 years; and thousands of adolescent girls drop out of school because of pregnancy. Government policies specifically discriminate against girls, enabling schools to expel pregnant and married girls from school, robbing them of an education.

What will the new centre offer?

The young women will receive accredited training in sewing and commercial cookery.  A certificate is awarded at the end of the six-month course. The acquisition of marketable and practical skills will help the women set up an enterprise from their home, while also being able to care for their children. It will provide them with a good income which will help lift them, and their family, out of poverty permanently.

The day-care facility will be available for mixed toddlers, aged between three and six. The Kindergarten will provide a full range of early-learning activities to stimulate the youngsters in the morning and equipment for playing and napping in the afternoon.  

There will be a landscaped green space where the women can learn how to sow vegetables. Medical facilities and a dining room, offering free meals, will be available for the beneficiaries.

The centre will be staffed by five teachers, two training instructors, four cooks and support personnel, one security guard, six Sisters, a nurse and a volunteer doctor. 

The training facilities will be available to around 80 women and between 100-120 toddlers can be accommodated at the day-care centre.

Proof of concept

The project follows a successful pilot which has been running at the Sisters’ new secondary girls’ school in Dar es Salaam. A small sewing workshop for up to 20 young women has been operating since late 2018 and the impact from this pilot has been significant in helping the beneficiaries provide for their families with their newly acquired, marketable and practical skills . The demand for the centre far outstrips the 20 places that are currently available and the facilities are limited.

Meet Casta who received sewing training during the pilot

 “My name is Casta. I studied for three months at the Sisters of Mary Training Centre from November 2018 to February 2019. I went there without knowledge in sewing but now I am very skilled to cut cloth to make skirts, dresses, and different fashion clothes. After completing the training, the Sisters helped us to get money to buy a sewing machine. Now that I have it, I am accepting orders to sew customised clothes from some ladies nearby our place and sometimes, the Sisters also give me some uniforms to sew. Now I am able to support myself, my siblings and family.

 Casta, a beneficiary from our pilot project, sewing clothes for her community

Casta now sewing clothes for her community

“With the Sisters of Mary here in Tanzania, they help many poor girls like me to have means of livelihood, while staying at home. Before I was just doing nothing and just depending on others to eat and provide my needs, but now I can even help a little to others too. From our training in sewing, the Sisters have given us an opportunity. Lastly, I like to give thanks to the Sisters for showing us love from the beginning of our training until now. We are very thankful to them because they taught us to love others and help them in their needs.”