Friday, September 16, 2005

BOONA-BAANA: Love Comes From Everywhere

You may think it strange that a Hong Kong registered charity maintains a home for children in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. But Love comes from everywhere and goes where it is needed.

The Boona-Baana Center For Children's Rights is a Hong Kong Limited Corporation registered as A Charitable Institution in Hong Kong Charity (No. 91/6600) and is A Foreign non-profit limited company in Tanzania: Compliance (No: 45004).

The founders of The Boona-Baana Center must have been asked many times how this came to be, because their very first link on their Home Page is labeled "Our Story." And it is a very interesting story. I am dying to tell it to you myself, but I should let you read it in its original version, which can be found here: Our Story .

I will give you a hint though; there is a love story inside this story of love.

The Founders of Boona-Baana, Marco Barra-Castro and Brooke Montgomery left their jobs in Hong Kong in July 2002 to move to Dar es Salaam Tanzania and with the help of Dr. Bart Rwezaura; who had been one of Brooke's law professors - and is a Tanzanian; began the Boona-Baana Center for Children's Rights.

The Boona-Baana Center is a small, grass-roots organization located in Dar es Salaam Tanzania whose aim is to create a series of local, sustainable projects that will assist vulnerable children in accessing their rights under the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child.

Brooke and Marco and their staff have also been working closely with the Department of Social Welfare on matters relating to child welfare and children's rights.

The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child enumerates the basic rights that should be achieved for all children and some of those rights include:

- The inherent right to life and to survival and development
- The right to be protected from all forms of discrimination
- Freedom of expression
- Freedom to access to information
- Freedom of thought, conscience and religion
- The right to be protected from all forms of mental and physical abuse, including sexual violence.
- The right to an adequate standard of living appropriate for the child's physical, mental, spiritual, moral and social development
- The right to an education and access to appropriate educational facilities and vocational training
- The right to be a child, to rest, to play and to recreate

Needless to say that many countries and communities around the world, children are deprived of some or all of these rights.

The Boona-Baana Center works to make the public (including children) aware of the rights of the child. It is also the intent of the Center to develop projects targeting the most vulnerable children in Tanzania and to assist them to the greatest extent possible to access their most basic rights.

In order to achieve this the Center has Outreach Projects designed to address specific needs of target groups in the community. These projects include "Play Days for local children that incorporate educational components regarding hygiene, health care and HIV/AIDS prevention." There are also Baby Care workshops for young mothers and Painting Parties for local children where virtues can be explored through creative play.

The Center also Advocates on behalf of children. These Advocacy Projects are wide scale education campaigns designed to bring attention to the Rights of the Child. These Projects include the distribution of brochures to local embassies regarding adoption and foster care procedures. These brochures are also distributed to institutions and government offices. There is also collaboration with a local radio station to stimulate debate about the damage caused to children who are disciplined through corporal punishment.

In addition to the Outreach Projects and the Advocacy Projects, there are Funding Projects. One Funding Project is the Erick Akida Medical Trust Fund through which the Center pledges to donate up to US $2,000 per year for one or more needy children to receive emergency medical care which would otherwise be unaffordable. Another of these projects is the Baby Safe Fund that "provides funding to enable HIV positive women mothers to acquire the medical care, treatment and drugs necessary to ensure that HIV is not transmitted to their unborn/newborn babies."

The Boona-Baana Center also hopes to establish future funding projects that will include scholarships for children or youth who cannot afford school fees.

The Center has a long-term project called The Green Door Home. The Green Door Home provides temporary shelter, food, education and care to children for whom reunification with biological family members has proven extremely difficult or impossible.

Tanzania, like many nations in Africa, has felt the damaging effects of HIV/AIDS. And the Boona-Baana web site says that this tragedy creates a "vicious cycle of poverty, preventable diseases and lack of basic infrastructure and social services continues to undermine the health and welfare of many people in rural and urban areas. All this has given rise to a rapidly rising number of orphaned and children who have lost their families and support systems to HIV/AIDS."

The strategy of the Green Door Home is that it will be a temporary shelter until

· the child can be reunified with one or both parents OR

· the child can be reunified with other biological family members OR

· the child can be taken into foster care by or adopted by a fit and proper family ordinarily resident in Tanzania OR

· other arrangements have been made for the settlement of the child.

· AND in all of the above scenarios that such arrangements are made IN THE BEST INTERESTS OF THE CHILD and in keeping with the principles and spirit enumerated in the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child.

The web site has a page where visitors can read more about the children who live at the Green Door Home.

The Home is headed by houseparents and has accommodations that include four bedrooms, three bathrooms, one kitchen, one dining room, one storage area and one living room; as well as a large covered porch. There is a more detailed description of the Home and each of the rooms at the web site.

The web site goes into detail about the Outreach Projects mentioned above, which are the "Virtues" Painting Parties, the Play Days, Youth HIV/AIDS Education Sport Days and Baby Care Workshops.

The web site also goes into detail about the Advocacy Projects, which are the Adoption and Foster Care Advocacy and the Alternative Discipline Advocacy. And the Funding Projects mentioned above are laid out in detail as well.

The Boona-Baana Center is a remarkable organization led by a remarkable couple. If you really want to get a "warm feeling" in your heart, visit their web site at:


1 comment:

Stickystacky said...

What wonderful publicity for such a wonderful project.