Organization Description: 

FONELISCO was established in 1997 by social worker Joseph Mabinga Elias in order to provide a safe haven for the most vunerable members of the Tanzanian society. Joseph started the organisation after talking to the street-children themselves about their needs, and financed the establishment through selling self-made postcards and necklaces.

In the first years since the organisation started, Joseph worked on the streets himself, striving to reintegrate street-children with their families whenever possible. Apart from this, he provided them with some money for food, clothes and school uniforms as well as counselling and encouragement. In 2002 the organisation managed to rent a house in Mwanza city with the money Joseph made from selling jewellery and postcards; 16 children moved in right away and more followed. The organisation was legally registered as a non-governmental organisation in 2003 and the first international volunteers arrived in February the same year. Since then, FONELISCO has paid the rent of the house with aid from Swedes volunteers and has also received donations from local churches and mosques, private donors.

Since 2002, FONELISCO has had help from 16 international volunteers and hosted more than 70 international visitors who have taken interest in the situation for the street-children and orphans. In addition to this, more than 16 different local volunteers have provided their assistance at different times.

The organisation, which started with the idealistic work of only one person, has grown to employ 14 local, unpaid volunteers, who cook food for the children, work as teachers and do administrative work. International volunteers are almost always present as well.

Presently, the organisation provides food, shelter and medical care for 44 children between the ages of five and thirteen, all of whom otherwise would have had no other choice but to live on the streets, begging or stealing for survival. In a country where HIV affects 80% of the population, social problems are abundant and the social security system is poor, children from abusive, impoverished or otherwise marginalised families are often left with no other opportunity.

Apart from the children who are given shelter in the FONELISCO children?s centre, the organisation economically supports 47 additional children, who are orphans and HIV victims but have found a relative or other guardian to live with; providing them with school-material, health care, clothes and food.

The children who reside in the FONELISCO children?s centre are sometimes orphaned and have HIV/AIDS as well, but many have fled from abusive or problematic family situations and have nowhere else to go than out on the streets. FONELISCO strives to reintegrate as many of the children as possible with their families or other guardians, but since this is impossible in many cases, the children?s centre has become many children?s only home.In the morning the children are given education in math, English, geography, art, history, biology and health, religion (for both Moslems and Christians) and Swahili. The teachers are all local volunteers, some with teachers education and others who have gained their knowledge in teaching in other ways. When international volunteers are present, they help with teaching whenever possible.

In the afternoon, children are given time to play games and have fun. Their favourite games are football and volleyball, but they also have the possibility to play hopscotch, cards, and LUDO, they sing songs, dance and skip rope.

The children are provided with food three times a day; for breakfast they eat porridge and tea, lunch is ugali with beans or fish, and dinner is usually rice or potatoes with beans or fish. On Sundays, Christian children are given the opportunity to go to church, and Moslem children are accompanied to the Mosque on Fridays. The children are very happy for this possibility.

The children are given counselling once a day in order to help them become more harmonic with their environment and their lives. This is very important, as the children have difficult backgrounds and some, despite their young age, are addicted to drugs. Many of the girls have been victims of prostitution and sexual abuse and are severely traumatised. The counselling also works to educate the children about the risks of HIV/AIDS, other STDs and early pregnancy.

Once a week, between 8:00 and 11:00 PM, FONELISCO works with the children on the streets. There are hundreds of children on the streets of Mwanza who do not have the possibility to be sheltered in the Children?s centre, and others who are unaware of it?s existence. The night street work has the aim to counsel and aid the children on the streets, help them with food whenever possible and encourage them to join the FONELISCO centre. If the children are hurt or ill, FONELISCO helps them to clean their wounds and tries to provide some medical care. The work done on the streets is tough and difficult, as one constantly witnesses atrocities committed against the children, but it is still extremely important and definitely motivating.

As already discussed, one of the main aims of the organisation is to reintegrate children with their families whenever possible. Sometimes, children have ended up on the streets because of unlucky circumstances and may still have the possibility to be taken care of by a relative or guardian. Children who have been reintegrated are checked upon as finances allow it, usually together with international volunteers. The reintegrated children are supported with some money, clothes and school materials, given counselling and words of hope. Both the guardians and the children are very happy and relieved by this work, as it strengthens the bond between the organisation, the child and the family. More than one hundred children have been reintegrated since the organisation started.

+255 713 41 62 92
P.O Box 895
Mwanza, 25502
Mission Statement: 

FONELISCO is a non-profit, non
governmental organisation striving to help
the street children and orphans of Mwanza,
Tanzania. FONELISCO is not affiliated with
any religious or political movement and
works to help children regardless of their
belief or social background. Our work spans
many issues such as HIV/AIDS, Health Care,
Education, Poverty Alleviation, Street
Children and Orphans, Environmental
Conservation and Gender issues. We
engage in out reach and community work as
well. Presently, the organisation provides
housing, food, education, medical care and
advocacy for 50 children between the ages
of five and seventeen, all of whom otherwise
would have had no other choice but to live
on the streets.

Do You Require Formal Orientation Training for Volunteers?: 
Are more than one-third of the participants in your organization/programs low income (below 150% of the poverty level)?: 
International Volunteers: 
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