Issue No. 3  

June - December 2014

Dear Partner and Friend of the Babawatoto Centre
and the FIT FOR LIFE project

Welcome to our third newsletter about the project FIT FOR LIFE - Educating vulnerable youngsters in the arts and creative industries in Dar es Salaam - a project financed by the European Union.

The Goethe-Institut Tanzania is the Coordinator and the Parapanda Theatre Lab Trust, Dar es Salaam and the ICC ufaFabrik, Berlin are the partners of the project.

The project started in March 2013 with the preparation for THE BIG WHEEL, the first international artistic Workshop meeting, which kicked off in June 10, 2013. Over 60 children and youngsters participated in the first THE BIG WHEEL.

The next BIG WHEEL will take place in June 2015 (1.06. - 19.06.2015).
The international trainers who will provide further education to the Babawatoto trainers come from the ufaFabrik / Terra Brasilis, one of the partners of the project, and from Phare Ponleu Selpak, a culture and education centre in Cambodia.

About these partners and co-operators in the project you will find more information on our website: www.babawatotofitforlife.net


Ongoing Activities

The months from June until December 2014 were busy with

• Ongoing public performances (9) in the Mburahati, Kigogo and Manzese communities

• The second international training workshop in July, called Big Wheel

• Three arts and craft workshops

• The weekly training sessions in acrobatics, juggling, trapeze and Samba Reggae music

• Networking activities with local and regional cultural institutions

Many thanks to all friends and people who are engaged in the activities of the Babawatoto Centre for the benefit of the Kinondoni district children.


Study Visits

The new exciting activities of the last months were two study visits

• Bagamoyo (19 – 25 September 2014)

• Uganda (11 – 17 December 2014)

Study visits for trainers and workshop groups are organised to get in touch with other creative facilities and artistic schools in East Africa to form strategies of networking in the regions.Two study visit were conducted. More than 26 children and 8 local trainers participated in these trips.
The project “Fit for Life” builds capacity of the children and organises outreach programmes into the East African Network of organisations that work with youth and children.

The aims of these study visits are to provide participants with firsthand experiences by participating in the activities of the Shada group in Bagamoyo and the Butterfly Youth Foundation in joining and sharing their capacity of doing acrobatics.

The youth and children from the Fit for Life team performed at the 37th International Arts Festival  in Bagamoyo, TASUBA. More than 1500 watched the acrobatic show accompanied by Samba Reggae music. One of the kids, Adam Seleman said: "I am very pleased to get an opportunity to perform in the International Art Festival like this, art is very good. Babawatoto is a very good center; I believe I can be a great artist later".

The six days workshop with the Butterfly Foundation resulted in a joint performance at the Kosovo Slum Lungujja, Kampala, Uganda. The show with thirthy young people from Uganda and Tanzania attracted  300 spectators to the show. This show was an outreach program of Fit for Life to the East African network.

Performance at the Uganda National theatre

Benefits for trainers
Trainers had the possibility to exchange their methodology with the trainers of the Butterfly Youth Foundation and Shada group shared practical ideas. Local trainers discussed topics including techniques, genres of acrobatic arts and how to guide and manage the especially vulnerable children.

Since the Shada Group and the Butterfly Youth Foundation have similar goals as the Babawatoto Centre , the Babawatoto Centre decided to cooperate with them to empower the group’s local trainers together with the children.


Voice of a FIT FOR LIFE Participant

Theresia Michael Rwendana

Theresia is a 12 year old pupil at the Kisutu primary school in Kinondoni, Dar es Salaam. She has lost her parents and lives with her grandfather, Mr Rwendana in Mburahati, Dar es Salaam.  Her family is large and poor and living conditions are hard.

Although her grandfather tried his best to offer Theresia a good education she had to drop out from an English medium school because of lack of school fees. Therefore Theresia had to spend for long time without going to any school at all. None of her relatives living with her at her grandfather’s home showed concern whether she continued with her education.

However Theresia started to spend more time at the local video shacks during the day and at night attended Vigodoro, local night music events, where she met children with dubious characters. Not sooner Theresa started to refuse to take chores at home, stole money and petty items. She had changed to become a difficult child to rise. She would use foul languages and be rude to everyone, old and young alike. She stayed out in the streets the whole day and returned home at late night hours.

"I was hungry all the time since my grandfather is poor he could not afford to provide proper meal or fees for the school. These made me avoid going to school" she says about her past life before joining Babawatoto Centre.

"I asked her to spend some time at the Babawatoto Centre where she could play and learn with other children"; says Mr Rwendana, especially after the death of her mother so she would heal her grief." He says that to make sure she attends the center he involved Habiba and Mkude who are the supervisors.
The combined effort from Mr. Rwendana and the staff at the center helped to motivated Theresia to change.

"I appreciate that my granddaughter spends her time at the center where she learns life skills, acrobatics and other useful stuff"; says Mr Rwendana about the transformation of Theresia.
The teacher and trainers from the center share with him the good progress of her acrobatic and artistic training.

"They inform me about the project and planned activities" he says, "She has changed because since then she does not come home late, greets politely her seniors, does her own clothes washing, bathes without being reminded and even helps in home chores. Before the change she was always scold and reprimanded for unruly behavior."

On the photo below:
Theresia on the right performing at the Goethe-Institut Open Day

Theresia: Lesson learned from Fit for Life

"Theresia joined the Babawatoto Center back in 2009. Actually she has been part of the project from the beginning. While with the center she learned acrobatics, dancing, acting, juggling and handling the trapeze.

"I had to follow a schedule at the center in order to participate in the program" she says, „stopped wasting time loitering in the neighborhood".

Theresia likes come to the workshops because at least she gets some meals and interacts with other children. However for her the recent study tour to Uganda was for a wonderful moment in her young life.

"I really enjoyed the study trip", she says, "Habiba and Mkude took good care of us all during the whole safari. We went to eat food and Ice cream in the big malls, swimming and just sight-seeing and it felt like we are a well to do family".

She also got to see for the first time Bukoba on her way to Uganda. All she knows that her family origins, the Haya Ethnic group is from Bukoba, a region in North West Tanzania at the border to Uganda. She has never before travelled there.

"The children of the Butterfly center received us well and were kind to us", she says, "I could practise my English and learn Baganda, a language used in Uganda."

She learned from the children of the Butterfly center and met new friends. "One of my new friends, Mosh, taught me to beat box" she explains; „Now I can make beats with my mouth". She believes once time allows she would love to go and visit the Butterfly Youth Foundation again.

But travelling abroad is not the only good news Theresia is proud to say about the Babawatoto Centre . "I never had nice stuff like shoes or clothes", she recalls, "After seeing me active in the center's program my grandfather agreed to buy me new pairs of shoes and clothes for the events I had to attend outside the center. Before he would not do so since I had refused to help with chores at home."

Theresia is also grateful to her mentors and trainer. "Mr Mkude has taught me traditional dances, yoga, and the trapeze", she says, "today am good at these to the extend that I have earned me some fame among the neighbors and friends at school."

Photo: Theresia on the trapeze


Meet the team behind the project by visiting our website http://babawatotofitforlife.net/the-team

Dar es Salaam, January 06, 2015
Habiba Issa
Project Manager


This project is funded by the European Union. The views expressed in this publication do not necessarily reflect the views of the European Commission.