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The Voltaren Kilimanjaro Challenge 2004 decided to assist one charity in the locality of Mt Kilimanjaro. The choice of a home where many suffer from a disabling condition made Upendo the top choice. Together with funds from the Reuters Foundation and funds the team has raiised from lectures and talks from the UK to Australia, it is hoped the lives of those at Upendo can be improved. About US$5000 has been raised.

The India-made, manual milk separator

An urgent need was to generate more income in their self-sufficiency drive. Their cows produced milk, which sold, derived some income. But by sourcing for and funding (amongst other things) of several hand-cranked milk separators, the centre could increase their income by selling both milk , and (higher valued) cream; with potential for producing other dairy products.


Faye Cran

Arusha being the gateway to the National Parks attracts beggars from all over the country. About 120 leprosy victims & families, who because of their disability were unable to obtain employment, lived under the trees on the banks of the river that runs through the centre of Arusha Town and existed by begging and scavenging. Their sustenance from begging was far from sufficient and their condition was pathetic and squalid, without even a pit latrine. Their bed was the hard ground.

In 1995 while I was Director of Vocational Services our Club was approached by these lepers requesting help. We arranged a meal and the issuing of clothes to them. We found they were so grateful and in such need that we conceived the idea of building a shelter for these social outcasts.

A few days later I went to a local market to buy dog meat. Outside squatting in the mud and dressed in filthy tattered rags was a man. He had no fingers, but managed somehow to hold a raw and nearly meatless bone, which had been thrown to him where he sat amongst the stray dogs looking for pickings. He was hungry and desperate with haunted eyes as he sat gnawing the bone.

What could cause anyone to loose every scrap of dignity and be reduced to this state? The answer of course is leprosy, and Joel, for that is his name, was not the only victim. A qualified kindergarten teacher he had lost his job together with his fingers and toes to this dreadful disease. This appalling scene increased the urgency to help these people. (He was one of our first residents. Now he is once again clean and smart living at Upendo. He has indeed come a long way since that day.)

In 1996, by coincidence, I met with Ab Moore from the Rotary Club of Guelph, who was visiting Moshi. I told him about this project and he travelled to Arusha to see for himself the plight of these unfortunates. Ab immediately became involved and started his own fund raising through the Rotary Club of Guelph, CRCID, and Rotary International. Later through his efforts all the furniture, except for the beds was obtained. St Francis Leprosy Guild in the U.K donated the beds and mattresses.

On 1st May 1996 the Arusha Rotarians and their families pushed a golf cart from the Town Centre to Kilimanjaro Airport some 55 kms. It took 12 hours and raised $16,600 sufficient funds to construct the Home.

And so Upendo became a reality. In June 1996 the first residents moved in. On 2nd October 1996 we officially opened Upendo – which translated means ‘cared for with love’ and was the name chosen by the first residents.

When the lepers arrive they are in very poor condition. They are emaciated, not only by lack of food, but also, because the treatment for leprosy spoils their immune system, they suffer from scabies, dreadful ulcers, diarrhoea, coughs and eye infections. Medical bills are high – there is no National Health in Tanzania.

At Upendo we accept the whole family – hence children who used to beg and would have ended on the streets have a secure home with their parents. Currently we have 50 adults and 31 children. Thankfully the people with children never leave the home, whereas a few of the others, once the leprosy is under control, intend to go away and only return when the leprosy ‘flares up”. We have 3 men who have lost their sight though leprosy, Anton can make rope and twine, Elias trained as a carpenter can make school desks, while Pili is able to weave baskets. All have found security and ‘upendo’ in the home.

The older children attend primary school for the first time in their lives and a kindergarten teacher comes daily to entertain the younger ones.

After school, training in life skills such as tailoring, masonry and carpentry are offered. These are taken up with enthusiasm. Some 300 desks and forms have been donated to needy schools – these were all made during carpentry lessons, which also includes baby cots, tables, cupboards, lockers, double decker beds (they have made 20 sets this year for our street girl dormitory) and even rocking zebras, hippo swings, African drums and many other items.

The adults learn animal husbandry and horticulture. They are self sustaining in eggs, milk, fish and vegetables.

Other activities include hand loom weaving, maize grinding, a small shop and handicrafts such as embroidery, recycled paper cards, papier machie beads, bowls and Christmas decorations as well as Christmas Crackers.

The creation of the Upendo Leprosy Victims Rehabilitation and Self Reliance Centre in such a short time and literally out of nothing was achieved in large measure by the consistent encouragement and material support of a network of people around the world.

St Francis Leprosy Guild, together with the Rotary Clubs of Guelph, Canmore and New Zealand were the first to recognise what could be possible in bringing hope and dignity to those afflicted with the age-old disease of leprosy. In numerous ways of personal commitment and inspiration they have ensured that they provided essential timely and continuing assistance helping bring Upendo to where it is today.

Over 5000 cases of leprosy were discovered in Tanzania last year. Thankfully many were found early and cured because they were discovered in time. We hope and believe that our little children’s story Fire Fire played a part in passing the good news that early treatment cures leprosy.