Tree of Hope, (formerly known as Tanga Deanery HIV & AIDS Control Project) started as a single project initiated by the Anglican Church, Diocese of Tanga in 2004, as a result of resolution made by the Anglican Bishops from all over Tanzania during their meeting in Dar es Salaam in 2001. The church decided to intervene the situation after HIV & AIDS be declared as a National disaster, by the former Tanzanian President Benjamin William Mkapa, in 1999. After seven years of implementing HIV & AIDS Prevention Projects while mainstreaming gender, the Church Leadership decided to register a separate legal entity to allow it grow, have its vision and mission. Tree of Hope was later registered as a Non-Government Organization in May 2010 with Registration number 3856. The Organization’s Head Office in Tanga. The Organization is currently working in three districts of Tanga, Pangani and Mkinga.
During the implementation of HIV/AIDS Prevention Program, Tree of Hope gathered experience since 2004 to date that, there is little understanding of gender concepts, stereotypes, and gender based violence among community members and also low level of interventions addressing gender equality and gender equity, gender based violence which is one way or another contributes to the HIV infections. To date, Tree of Hope still runs a VCT (Voluntary Counseling & Testing) being outreach and onsite services.
Tree of Hope came up with a gender program where it now implementing a project titled, “Reducing gender based violence incidences and gendered impact of HIV among faith institution in Tanga. This project provides a room for faith female leaders to attend training on gender based violence so as to become champions in pro gender agenda within their faith institutions. In total 120 faith leaders have been trained.
In gender based violence project, Tree of Hope provides education on gender based violence in schools, establish interfaith forums, train religious leaders, local government leaders to improve their knowledge to gender issues and gender based violence. Other activities include workshops, seminars, community dialogues, community mobilization meetings, TV and radio programs, networking with other stakeholders.
Another identified gap was legal support program for victims/survivors of gender based violence, and people living with HIV (PLHIVs) Orphans & vulnerable children, most vulnerable children, widows/widowers. In order to overcome this problem Tree of Hope came up with another project titled, Tanga gender initiative and legal support program where trained lawyer has been employed to provide free legal aid support, case processing and consultation in general for vulnerable groups. The Senior Legal Officer is assisted by another trained lawyer who works as a volunteer to the program. Tree of Hope also trained 90 paralegals that provide paralegals services in three districts of Tanga, Pangani and Mkinga. Among the Paralegals there are religious Leaders, Faith Female Leaders, Local government leaders and other professionals and community members
Tree of Hope also realized that vulnerable groups need means to survive, hence organized entrepreneurship training for widows, people living with HIV,(PLHIV) divorcees and orphans and women are facing difficulties in earning income, and are prone to gender based violence. Through the Engendering Change Program funded by Oxfam Canada, Tree of Hope managed to train 300 on entrepreneurship skills including multipurpose detergent, batik, tie& dye.
In regard to country process for writing a new Constitution, Tree of Hope managed to conduct constitution dialogues for more 800 women from villages due to the fact that most of them were left behind in the whole process of Constitution change. The most targeted were rural women where seven villages were covered. Most of women said they had no idea of what constitution is, and almost 95% said they haven’t seen the passing out constitution of 1977.
Tree of Hope was also engaged General Election of 2015 by providing voters education, conduct dialogues for women so that they can register, contest and observe election processes. Other dialogues were conducted in Secondary Schools, for media groups, religious leaders and local government leaders. Tree of Hope also conducted radio program to reach more people from remote areas. More than 12,768, citizens were reached. Out of this 8472 were women and 4026 were men.
Due to the vastness of the region, Tree of Hope thought that it will not manage to work alone. Hence in September, 2013 Tree of Hope organized various actors and stakeholders and launched a Tanga Network to Combat Gender Based Violence. The Network is still at an infancy stage, but it assures us of having information from the grassroots level. Following maternal deaths, Tree of Hope engaged itself using the Rights Based Approach to reduce maternal mortality. This is a pilot project within Tanga City, and there is a plan for scaling up.
Tree of Hope vision is to see a healthy and empowered caring society that is socially and economically strong that enjoys quality life”. Towards this end, Tree of Hope is committed to contribute significantly to the improvement of social economic and health status of marginalized groups through empowerment community mobilization and advocacy. Tree of Hope’s strategic areas of focus are gender, health, education and support to vulnerable groups to improve their livelihoods so that they can afford household basic needs.
Organization Leadership & Management
Tree of Hope is governed by a Board of Directors consisting of 10 people from different walks of life.
Tree of Hope has employed Five (5) full time staff, Executive Director, Senior Programme Officer, and Senior Legal Officer & Program Accountant.
Tree of Hope also have a team of 8 support staff (interns/volunteers) working for full time. Working with faith female leaders has been an advantage to Tree of Hope, as around 30 FFL are ready to work on voluntary basis to educate community on gender based violence in schools settings, Churches, Mosques, Madras & Sunday schools.
Tree of Hope believes in sustainable programming, hence it has 50 acres of land at Ngomeni kamba, where 20 acres has been planted sisal, and the remaining land is unprocessed. The land has been also set aside later on to build a Vocational training Centre for orphans and vulnerable children, center for widows and widowers affected by HIV to generate income for sustaining their families. Also there is tailoring unit where a number of Mother Union members form six parishes of Tanga Deanery were trained on tailoring skills. Women were also trained on food processing in collaboration with Small Industries Organization (SIDO) where some women are now continuing with the businesses.
Tree of Hope has managed to make work in an interfaith approach, where Christians and Moslems work as one. There is a mutual agreement to respect one another’s faith, for instance during the trainings if necessary, there is a break to let Moslem attend prayers before continuing with the sessions.
Tree of Hope facilitated the process to design a Guideline for religious leaders to respond on GBV, and oriented the religious leaders to adopt it as a working tool for them to respond on GBV cases brought forward to them. This was done under GBV program supported by Oxfam Tanzania.
Tree of Hope identified a gap also in the gender policy for Tanga City Council, and managed to lobby and jointly reviewed the policy under the Engendering Change Program. Under Oxfam support again we managed to do the final review for the Tanga City Gender Policy and is pending Full Council to endorse the document.
There is a strong interfaith forum for faith female leaders, Interdenominational Forums for religious leaders making it easier to serve the community. Regular meetings with religious and local government leaders also add value to our work.
There are five ant violence school clubs established by Tree of Hope to support educating adolescents on HIV, and GBV. Various case studies were revealed during the implementation of school based education sessions. The presence of Regional Networking is another good way forward to end gender based violence in the region.
In collaboration with Uwezo Twaweza, Tree of Hope managed to conduct research titled “Assessing Learning Outcomes among Children between the Ages of 7 and 16 in Tanzania” The Executive Director was contracted to be the District Coordinator for Tanga District (Urban).Tree of Hope is a member to TEN MET.
Another area of achievement is a good working relationship with the local government, central government and other stakeholders, where Tree of Hope sometimes organizes quarterly stakeholders meetings.
Tree of Hope has maintained trust with its current donors, Oxfam Tanzania who are main funders of the programs, and Open Society Initiative for eastern Africa (OSIEA) who are supporting legal aid program.
Tree of Hope is also working closely with 300 VICOBA groups; where education on GBV is given regularly to enable them understand types of GBV, its effects and where to report in case it occurs among themselves or within their families and neighborhood.
Tree of Hope has also trained 90 paralegals under support from OSIEA who work on voluntary basis under legal unit. Through working with them, there is an increased in GBV reported cases, since they are in the grass root level where they
Tree of Hope is facing challenges just like any other government or non government agency. The presence of harmful cultural practices hinders the efforts to maintain gender equity and equality.
There is inadequate provision of legal aid support, and most of women need court representation, the component Tree of Hope is missing. Also there is a lot of appeal to reach vulnerable women in villages, where Tree of Hope can’t afford due to funding limitations. Lack of reliable transport is one of major hindrance to achieve our goals.
Increase funding base by designing and writing up project proposal to attract more development partners. Under support from Oxfam Tanzania, the organization is intending to conduct Longitudinal Panel Study in regard to gender based violence in the selected villages in Tanga District to have a baseline data for the effective planning of GBV programs in Tanga.Currently Tree of Hope is funded by Oxfam & Open Society Initiative for Eastern Africa (OSIEA)