MEHAYO is a Tanzanian non-governmental organization established with the aim of helping mentally handicapped people in Morogoro.
Mental disability is still a big stigma in the Tanzanian communities, especially in the remote villages. Families still discriminate and often hide their disabled or mentally handicapped children from the rest of the village as it is considered shameful.
MEHAYO was founded to combat this prejudice by teaching some practical skills, such as pottery, gardening, painting, sowing or bracelet making, and by raising better awareness of mental disabilities among their parents and the local population.
The organization provides shelter for 42 mentally handicapped people, ranging from 7 to 42 years of age; most of them live at the centre.
The staff is composed entirely by local and international volunteers. Although most of them are not trained in the field of mental disability, their aim is to support MEHAYO by contributing with their knowledge, skills, time and energy. MEHAYO was founded in 1995 by Linda Ngido and registered as an NGO in 1998.
The centre generates a small income by selling home-made products, including the food they cultivate. Other sources of finance are occasional donations provided by individual benefactors.
Volunteers can join a series of different activities scheduled daily:
Helping with gardening, arts and crafts or pottery making
Teaching music, painting or sowing
Going to school with the children who attend primary school
Remaining at the facility to assist children who are unable to attend school
Helping the local staff in the farm, which is a short distance from the centre
Volunteers are encouraged to develop their own work according to their strengths and areas of expertise
At MEHAYO, the staff members always welcome any new ideas brought by volunteers and is always open to learn new skills
Volunteers are encouraged to develop their own work according to their strengths and areas of expertise. At MEHAYO, the staff always welcome any new ideas brought by volunteers and are always open to learn new skills.
Volunteer requirements / Skills
This project is suitable for volunteers who:
Are at least 18 years of age at the time of arrival
Have a good knowledge of spoken and written English
Are adaptable and open minded
Have a desire to help others
Having previous experience working with people with disabilities is an advantage, but not a requirement.
Morogoro town, approximately 5 hours from Dar es Salaam. Morogoro is a mountainous area with a colder climate compared to Dar Es Salaam. Morogoro is quite small; however it has a very lively nightlife with plenty of bars and clubs. Mikumi National Park is just nearby and can be accessed in an hour.
4 weeks to 1 year
Hosting Situation (Board and Lodging)
Volunteers will stay either with a host family or at the project’s hostel.
MEHAYO is focusing on becoming self-sustainable, and is working on a number of income generating projects. Currently, the children make cards to sell. Card stock and art supplies are always greatly appreciated. Beads are also always in demand for jewellery making. Any other supplies for children are appreciated (books, toys, clothes and anything that can help children with disabilities).
Short-term volunteers will need to pay for their travel from Dar es Salaam to Morogoro by bus, and two nights at the lodge.
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