PATRIZIA Child Care Songea
For the 15th anniversary of the foundation in 2014, the PATRIZIA Foundation has opened its second facility in East African Tanzania, the children’s home PATRIZIA Child Care Songea. The first is the children’s hospital PATRIZIA Children’s Hospital in Peramiho.
The new children’s home is located in Songea, just a few kilometres east of the PATRIZIA Children’s Hospital. At this facility the Missionary Benedictine Sisters of Tutzing, who have been active in Tanzania for over 100 years, are the local partners.
“It touched me incredibly, how lovingly the ‘House Mums’ take care of the abandoned children.”
steward of the PATRIZIA Child Care Songea
A sheltered home for orphans…
Spread over three buildings, the children’s home offers orphaned Tanzanian children a roof above their heads and provides them with a loving “House Mum”. The housemothers take care of the children.
…with kindergarten and preschool
Giving the children a protective home is not the only goal of the institution. At the same time, they also gain access to education: The children’s home borders directly on a Montessori kindergarten and a preschool, which the children can attend.
This gives them a regular everyday life and lays the foundation for a better future.
Tales of happiness from Tanzania
Blessing’s tale of happiness
Blessing’s past is a story of sadness, hope and joy. Today the child´s heartfelt laugh is infectious, but it has not always been that way.
Blessing did not always have the strength that she radiates today. As an infant the girl was found in the woods – abandoned, alone and crying. Two women found her by a happy coincidence, reported her to the authorities and brought her to the Missionary Benedictine Sisters in Uwemba. There she was lovingly received and raised.
A few years ago, Blessing moved to a children’s home in Morogoro, where many children have found shelter for decades. But the buildings were in need of renovation and were hardly habitable. Blessing and all the other children were all the more delighted when the new PATRIZIA Child Care in Songea was completed and they were able to move into their new rooms.
The sisters of the Missionary Benedictine Sisters and the children in the orphanage are now Blessing’s family. “I don’t know my parents, but I found a family here,” Blessing happily reports.
Travel report from Monique Felicetti
One journey, two missions
Summer 2019: Monique Felicetti, director of the PATRIZIA Foundation, recently travelled to Africa with two missions on her agenda. The first was to prepare for a virtual reality video shoot at the three foundation projects in Tanzania. When complete, the video will highlight the successful work undertaken by the foundation to both current and possible sponsors. While there, Felicetti also explored with local partners the potential to develop the projects further. Here she tells the story of her first trip to Africa.
I arrived in Tanzania late in the evening, so the capital Dodoma was shrouded in darkness and I saw only little of it. My first impressions of Africa were gathered the next day some 600 kilometres away in Peramiho at the impressive abbey of the Benedictine Missionaries.
Around the abbey you can readily see the strong German influence: An impressive church, small, but well-kept houses and blooming front gardens. The residents are employees of the hospital, doctors and support staff, as well as employees from companies run by the abbey.
Benefiting from the well-paid and secure incomes their positions provide, these families can afford school fees for their children and the upkeep of the beautiful, well-equipped houses. Some even employ their own staff or have relatives help them in exchange for food and lodging to assist them with daily household chores.
PATRIZIA Child Care Songea, in “real” Africa
The next day I drove to nearby Songea, where a PATRIZIA Child Care Center is located. This is a typical Tanzanian community: hardly any infrastructure, little personal property and rudimentary conditions under which people work and live.
This is a stark contrast to our Central European lifestyle. If I had not been aware of the importance of our foundation’s work before arriving –- this journey would have certainly changed that.
Mission 1: Presenting our work
Tanzania was the first location where the PATRIZIA Foundation became active and we have been involved there for 20 years. For this reason, we chose the three projects in Peramiho and Songea to be the focus of a virtual reality film to celebrate the foundation’s anniversary: the PATRIZIA Children’s Hospital Peramiho (2002), the PATRIZIA Child Care Songea (2014) and the PATRIZIA School Peramiho, which opened in 2017. These are lighthouse projects for our work worldwide.
However, most of our donors and potential donors do not have the opportunity to visit our facilities themselves.
They cannot talk to the children whose lives are so positively changed by medical treatment, by receiving a sound school education and by having a roof over their heads. This is why we bring the facilities virtually to those who have made this possible – and so that we can make it possible for other children in the future. It will be used for fundraising and at events of the foundation. Also, it will allow employees of the PATRIZIA AG a better insight into its work.
Extraordinary projects need extraordinary people
In preparation for the video shoot, I met with partners, employees and children from all three institutions. Not a day went by without an invitation to tea or dinner. These included inspiring encounters that will continue to accompany me for a long time, such as those with Dr. Venance Mushi, the dedicated chief physician at St. Joseph’s Hospital, which also includes the PATRIZIA Children’s Hospital Peramiho.
The hospital provides some 140,000 outpatient and 16,000 inpatient treatments per year, a critical service in this extremely poor region. Thanks to its highly qualified doctors and nurses, the hospital has an extremely high standard by African comparisons. And an outstanding reputation, which also brings challenges.
A hospital like no other: The PATRIZIA Children’s Hospital Peramiho
There are often long queues in front of the treatment rooms, which is not unusual for Africa. Inside, several doctors and nurses are to be found treating many different patients at the same time. Here everyone conducts themselves with a level of composure and patience what would be unthinkable in Europe.
The waiting time is also used in a meaningful way: A young nurse Makala Mtawa, for example, tirelessly trains patients in preventive measures in health care and hygiene. After all, infectious diseases are still the most common illnesses in Africa.
An old friend
From Sister Ruth, I learned that Tanzanian parents attach great importance to a good school education for their children, as well as in ensuring that the children make themselves useful from an early age in the home or in the fields. For children, there is little time to play. When they do play, they entertain themselves with everyday objects such a cardboard box or a few wooden sticks.
Mission 2: Project development
For each of our projects we seek strong, professional local partners who can guarantee the long-term operation of the facility and the safety of the children. We always plan for an operation of at least 25 years.
In Tanzania, our partners are the Tutzing Missionary Benedictine Sisters and the Missionary Benedictines of St. Ottilien, who have been active together in Peramiho since 1888. My aim was to discuss with our partners how we can extend the local chain of impact and what additional needs our facilities have.
The growing community of Songea shows much potential. A primary school, open to children of all denominations, would close the gap between a children’s home and a secondary school. However, the existing nursing school could also use much help. Here young women and men learn the highly respected profession of nursing, which offers the best prospects for a better future. We are now examining the needs and will present an outlook on possible new projects as soon as possible.