“It left a deep impression on me” said Cherie Blair, the wife of the former British Prime Minister, in a Foreword she has written to a new 50-page book published by UNICEF, Macmillan Aidan and others entitled ‘Dogodogo – Tanzanian street children tell their stories’. “I was lucky when Kasia Parham, the wife of the British High Commissioner, took me along to see the remarkable care and support being provided to those who had nothing. I was struck by the dedication and warmth of the American Sister Jean Pruitt, who established the Dogodogo Centre in Dar es Salaam which provides a haven for boys rescued from the street” Cherie Blair said.
The book, which is edited by Kasia Parham, a volunteer teacher at the Centre, contains a large number of illustrations painted by some of the boys, and describes the experiences of eight of them – how and why they came to leave home, how they found refuge, how they survived in incredibly difficult circumstances, and how they still loved their families.
High Commissioner Philip Parham said that he hoped the book would be seen as a good teaching resource in schools in the UK, US and elsewhere to raise awareness.
Kasia Parham described how the boys told her their stories over a period of four months as part of their English language programme. As they learned to express themselves in English, they also learned to speak individually about their past. “Often they told me the factual events of their lives rather than their emotional responses to them. I believe their stories are more powerful for that” she said. “In subsequent more lighthearted group discussions they corroborated each others’ stories.”
The result of all this work is a highly readable book which explains in moving language the extraordinary and often very sad stories of their lives so far. During the past fifteen years some 1,500 children have benefited from the services of the Centre operated by the ‘Dogodogo Street Children Trust’ which also runs a programmes on HIV/AIDS and a successful anti-drugs programme.
With the encouragement of First Lady Mama Kikwete a USAID-financed edition is being produced in Swahili.
The book is being sold in TZ at Novel Idea and Art n Frame (Dar-es-Salaam). Schools in UK wanting copies should contact Ellie Wilson at Macmillan UK: firstname.lastname@example.org.
See http://www.dogodogocentre.org for more information about the project. Those wishing to contribute to the Trust should contact Sister Jean at email@example.com.
David Miliband’s comments on the book can be seen at: http://blogs.fco.gov.uk/blogs/david_miliband