Hope where there was none

According to UNICEF about 71 percent of Tanzanian children live in absolute poverty. More than 73 percent have been physically abused. LOHADA children have suffered the most extreme indigence — theirs are the worst-case scenarios. About a third have been orphaned or lost one parent, often to HIV-AIDS. Others have been abandoned to the streets by extended families too strapped to feed another mouth.

High unemployment and underemployment make it nearly impossible for a single, uneducated parent or guardian to survive. Many have traveled to the city to find work, only to find themselves subsisting in a mud-daub hut in a crowded, filthy slum. Single mothers make a nominal living selling vegetables or washing clothes. This does no provide even basic needs, so these women commonly seek support from another man. New stepfathers often resent the children and physically abuse them, sometimes banishing them from the home outright.

A number of single mothers turn to prostitution to support their families. These women live in extreme danger, forcing their children to coexist in an unstable environment. Some parents are addicted to alcohol or drugs; some are chronically ill. Sadly a few LOHADA children are the product of rape, their teenage mothers having been abandoned to the streets themselves.

Young children are left unsupervised while parents and guardians try to generate income. Crime is rife in the slum neighborhoods where children live, so they become vulnerable to abuse and bad influences. Without money for school fees, children sometimes leave home to beg for food, living on the streets without protection or guidance.

Through family rehabilitation, LOHADA works with parents and extended family, counseling them and providing support to help overcome the obstacles of poverty. Together they work to create a stable, happy home to which children can return.