Maryknoll Sister brings international Child-to-Child program to Tanzanian youth
Aleavyo Akuavyo is an African proverb that means, “The way a child is raised is the way he/she will grow.” In 2015 that proverb became our inspiration for launching the Child-to-Child program at Holy Spirit parish in Kiwanja Cha Ndege in the Tanzanian Diocese of Morogoro, where I am serving.
Child-to-Child is an international program based on the belief that children, by instinct, help other children, even by simply extending their hands to one in distress. Here in Tanzania older children often play a large part in raising younger siblings.
Twenty-one girls and boys entered the training our parish provided to learn how to become mentors for other children through the Child-to-Child approach. We challenged the trainees to look first at their own behavior and choose good behavior in the midst of temptation to bad behavior around them. They learned to use different methods of teaching such as song, poetry and drama in their lessons dealing with violence in the home, drunkenness, bullying, etc. Training included sessions on self-esteem, gender and adolescent issues.
The boys and girls who have joined the program are called walimu, which means “teacher,” and have chosen as their motto, “Choose Life.” One can see by their testimonies that that is truly what motivates them and gives them joy.
“The program teaches good behavior and I wanted to be able to help others in need,” says 13-year-old Esther. “Now I try to advise my friends not to smoke or do drugs and to go on to a better life.”
“I want to teach children under 11 years old about good things,” says Nicolas, 15. “I teach them not to fight because to fight is to destroy life. We want to choose life.”
“I wanted to learn more about being a leader, to stand by the children and direct them,” says 14-year-old Flora. “Now, I teach about love in the community, and if they fight, they have to forgive one another.”
We hope to bring this Child-to-Child concept to other parishes and other faiths in the neighborhood. In valuing our children, we continue to hold Aleavyo Akuavyo as a guiding principle to build a better Tanzania, a proud Africa and a gift to each other as citizens of Earth.
Featured Image: Sister Bibiana Bunuan offers training and a shoulder to lean on to youth in Holy Spirit parish. (Courtesy of B. Bunuan/Tanzania)