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Rift Valley Childrens’ Village

The Tanzanian Children’s Fund provides financial support to programs designed to improve the lives of marginalized children in Tanzania. Currently it is working in partnership with the Rift Valley Children’s Fund, a non-governmental organization organized under the laws of Tanzania.

The Tanzanian Children’s Fund is assisting the Rift Valley Children’s Fund by granting funds to provide ongoing support for the orphanage, the Rift Valley Children’s Village, as well as programs designed to strengthen the community and assist marginalized children from the Karatu District.

At the end of 2008 the construction of the Children’s Village was finished. As of June 2009, the Children’s Village is now a home to 69 children.

Founder/Director India Howell

India Howell has lived and worked in Tanzania since 1998. She has devoted her life to children and the poor, acting on her vision to create a home for orphaned children in a remote village in the northern highlands of Tanzania.

Realization:

“If someone had told me, when I moved to Tanzania in 1998, that I would be writing a profile about myself as the Founder of the Tanzanian Children’s Fund I would not have believed them. Honestly, all I did was go to Tanzania to climb Kilimanjaro! But, I’ve heard it said that our path in life is most often found when we are on the road to some place else. That is certainly true for me. I discovered my path the moment I stepped off the plane in Tanzania. I felt that I had stepped into the place where I belonged; the place that would become my true home forever. So, after climbing Kili, I returned to the States and cancelled my plans to buy a B&B in Vermont and took a job with a safari company in the bush in Tanzania. My job took me to the city of Arusha every week to buy supplies. As the weeks passed, I noticed that there seemed to be an ever-growing number of boys begging and living on the streets. I learned that these kids were mostly orphans who had run away from relatives who did not want them and had abused and neglected them.

The Children

I soon learned about organizations who were helping these street kids. These organizations witnessed that after a child has been living on the streets for as little as a month, only the smallest percentage can be brought back into a home life of discipline and rules. I thought to myself, ‘What to do?’ How to work towards a solution to an insurmountable problem? Well, I was raised by a mother whose motto was: there are “no problems just solutions”. And so after much thought and planning, the Tanzanian Children’s Fund was born in 2003. Our core mission is to identify and rescue these orphaned children who find themselves unwanted and alone in the world – before they run to the streets. In 2003 I was invited by the District Council of Karatu to move to the area and fulfill my dream of providing a home and family to unwanted children.”

The Village

Today India is known throughout northern Tanzania as ‘Mama India’ who has provided a home to orphaned and unwanted children; hope and employment to villagers who have never had a job; and scholarships to worthy students.

India is the first to say that she has not done this work alone. Hardworking and selfless, practical and compassionate, she inspires tremendous loyalty from friends and from those who work for her. India has found her work, her passion, and her home in Tanzania.

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Production Notes:

This entire film was the result of a ‘bonus shoot’ as we had initially been booked to film The Rift Valley Children’s Village as a part of covering Dr Frank’s mobile health clinic there. Within minutes of arriving with our cameras we knew that this was a special place and the founder India Howell was someone we needed to spend more time with. We ended up dedicating the entire day just to India and ‘her kids,’ which left us with such deep admiration for India, her accomplishments and those adorable kids. We were struck by how India has managed to create a real utopian blend of African culture infused with western influences in the best sense. Not only is India providing a home to 69 children, but she has ‘adopted’ the local school just over the fence and is providing funds for classroom renovation, bringing much needed teachers on staff, provided hot lunches and created an athletics program that would rival any US school. All on sheer will, hard work and a delivering on a promise to provide the very best care possible. We wanted India to adopt us! At the end of our days filming we knew that we had to go back and film a longer doc.. Which is exactly what we plan to do- June 2011 we will be going back to film a ‘Girls Empowerment’ workshop over a 2 week period.

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