The Ilula Orphan Center (IOC), also known as The Lord’s Acre, seeks to provide a safe, loving and nurturing environment for orphaned girls ages 3-23 supported by a core of staff and volunteers. IOC promotes education, life skills training and community engagement.
Construction of the Ilula Orphan Center began in May 2003. The 9,000 square-foot building was completed in 2005 and the doors were officially opened in March 2006 to house seven girls. Currently, around 30 girls live at the center. The IOC has the physical capacity to house 80 girls, but presently there is only enough funding to support the girls who are already living at the center.
Major financial support for the IOC has come from three sources. Construction costs were paid by the Norwegian YWCA Girl Guides and the Norwegian Embassy in Tanzania. In addition, sponsorship for the girls living at the Center and initial overhead salaries were given by the Clinton Foundation HIV/AIDS Initiative. Individual donors from the United States, Luxembourg, Norway, the Netherlands, and other European countries have provided resources for a variety of other needs, including furnishing rooms at the IOC and the purchase of livestock for the Center’s farm.
The total budget of running the Center includes the cost of supplying food for the girls, fuel, medical and educational expenses, facility maintenance, transportation for staff and the girls, and the use of internal and external communication tools. The girls are supported by Life Sponsors, who contribute $360 USD per year to cover living expenses for the girls.
The Center is governed by a volunteer board of directors drawn from the local community. Daily operations are run by a salaried staff including a head administrative officer, matron, governess, accountant, several cooks, housekeepers and guards.
Foster Family Program
The Ilula Orphan Program’s Foster Family Program seeks to support children in the region who have lost their parents (the majority of them to HIV/AIDS) and to help them remain connected to their culture and community. The IOP Foster Family Program was created in 2003 in effort to encourage local families to take in orphaned children. There are currently around 500 children living in over 200 families within the program.
The program, funded by Norwegian Church Aid, provides community seminars, and financial assistance to foster families. In partnership with the Women and Empowerment Department, the program has also established Public Expenditure Tracking Systems (PETS) and Village Community Banks (VICOBA) in village communities with many foster families. PETS groups are trained and empowered to monitor local government to ensure open and honest allocation of public and donor funds for development projects. VICOBAs are a form of microfinance that bring together groups of no more than 30 members in saving and loan groups. Additionally, the Foster Family Program has provided some families with chickens, pigs and goats as income-generating projects.
As donor funding priorities have shifted in 2014, the Foster Family Program is in need of partners to continue to provide material support to families in the form of mosquito nets, food vouchers, school fees and bedding.
The Community Seminars occur in 16 villages in the region and provide discussion and education on climate change, gender based violence and many more topics. In addition to the Gender Based Violence (GBV) trainings, paralegal committees have been formed by IOP within villages to aid women seeking support for gender based violence issues. Committee members are trained in different types of law, including marital law, land laws and women’s rights.
A daily challenge for people in Ilula is scarcity of clean water. Lack of potable water is at the root of many community problems, including spread of disease, school absenteeism, and lack of time for income generating activities. To combat these problems, the WASH (Water and Sanitation Hygiene)Program works in conjunction with the Sustainability Department to implement water harvesting tanks for primary and secondary schools. Currently, there are three WASH tanks installed at the Lugalo School, Isoliwaya School and Kibaha School. These tanks provide water to 1,800 children and over 500 community members. With more donor support, the IOP hopes to replicate these successes in other schools and community institutions.
“If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.” – African Proverb
The Ilula Orphan Program (IOP) was founded upon the belief that education is the key to breaking the cycle of poverty and disease that is widely prevalent in the Iringa region. The Sponsorship Program was the first and continues to be the largest of all of the IOP’s initiatives. Through sponsored education, rural youth are offered the opportunity to reach success; many of the IOP staff, including department heads and program directors, are former sponsor students. Other sponsor students are working as primary and secondary teachers, masons, carpenters, tailors, electricians and computer secretaries. Visit the Sponsor page to hear some sponsor student stories.
The IOP Sponsorship Program was formed to provide selected youth with primary and secondary education by finding donors to cover their educational costs, including school fees and uniforms. For those students who qualify, individual donors can also support students pursuing degrees in higher education. Concurrently, youth in the program receive an education while actively contributing to development within their community.
As of 2015, there are more than 900 sponsors providing around 1,500 students with education funding through the IOP Sponsorship Program. Currently, there are approximately 200 students on the wait-list for sponsorship.
Sponsors are encouraged to support the same student throughout their primary, secondary and university studies (if applicable). Visit the Sponsor page to learn more about the cost and process of sponsoring a student and to watch videos featuring former sponsor students.
Go together; sponsor a child throughout his/her education.
The Ilula Orphan Center (IOC) currently hosts around 30 orphaned girls ages 3-23. To support the girls in their home at the Center, life sponsorships of $360/year (USD) are required for each child. This money is used to pay daily living expenses, including food, shelter, and clothing. Many of the girls have school sponsors in addition to life sponsors. Currently, all girls at the Center are fully life-sponsored but new girls arrive throughout the year.