Mandela and Komboa

During my adventures in networking here I came across an interesting man by the name of Mandela.  He came highly recommended by a close source to me who has become vital in sifting through the corrupt people and NGOs and finding the people who are seriously interested in helping others.  Mandela started an NGO called Komboa which is Swahili for “save” or “rescue”.  Komboa is a center designed to help street youth gain skills to help them become more employable and empower them to believe in themselves and strive for a better life.  Komboa offers classes in: sewing, English, jewelry making, computer skills, art, cooking, farming, and music.  There are more courses on the way but as usual, money is tight.  Mandela has big plans and visions for the future, speaking with him is an education.   He is energetic and charismatic, his passion is obvious and his compassion is true, after all he was once in the very same place as many of the youth that visit his center…

Mandela, born Ghynwine Rando, was a rare case in Moshi in today’s standards.  He had no family whatsoever and he was living on the street at an extremely young age.  He was taken in by 20150110_181627[1]Mkombozi which later became the largest NGO in Moshi.  Mkombozi began as a refuge for street children and housed only the youngest of them, providing food and shelter, Mandela was one of these lucky few.  He was raised in the system and saw a lot of volunteers come and go and he made a lot of friends and connections during his time there.  He also witnessed the beginning of the corruption and deceit.  Mkombozi was recently exposed for its unscrupulous acts of embezzlement, money mismanagement, and fraud.  I was supposed to do my placement here but was denied (thankfully) because of these allegations.  Mandela left Mkombozi after primary school and was sponsored by a family to continue his education in Uganda.  He came back and was afforded the opportunity to go to college in central Tanzania.  Once he finished his degree in community development  he began working for a series of NGOs in Moshi and was disappointed again and again by the greed and corruption he saw everywhere.  He would not participate and made many enemies.  Mandela was poor, living on almost no money, walking everywhere he had to go, and subsisting on beans, rice, and bread but he wouldn’t be bought.  Eventually he found a job out of the country and raised enough capital to start his own NGO: Komboa.

I was taken with his passion, his morals, his dedication, and his values.  I wanted to help out if I could and when I saw that there were a few guitars that were donated by another NGO and no one to play them, I had an idea.  Three times a week I will be going to Komboa to teach guitar to some of the young people there.  Also, I will be part of an initiative to start exploring the health and stories of the youth and their families if they are present. Getting as much information as possible will help the center to better assist the youth that go there.  Screening for medical concerns as well as social and familial anxieties or strengths may be vital for their overall care.  I’m really excited and although it will add more to my plate here in Moshi, I believe that I will gain even more in return.

Faduma, a local youth who frequents the center

Faduma, a local youth who frequents the center

3 thoughts on “Mandela and Komboa

  1. pashelly

    Travis,
    As Woody Guthrie said about his guitar, “This machine kills fascists.” How wonderful you are able to contribute your musical skills in addition to your social work ethics and abilities. A question about the sign you and Mandela are posing in front of: What is being pulled apart?

    I appreciate learning about Mandela’s path to founding Komboa. And again, your photos are a wonderful addition to this blog.

    And a question about Mkombozi: What are the sanctions against corruption? Criminal prosecution? Fines? Are there precedents with other NGOs in Moshi?
    Pat

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    1. atwatertravis Post author

      The Komboa book picture is a commentary on gender biases in the education system. The two children, one boy and one girl, are fighting over the one book because of scarce resources and in their struggle rip the book apart. There is an imbalance of opportunities for women in education…but that is getting better…slowly. The second question is more difficult to answer. I have spoken with several people who work with a lot of NGOs and I have gotten several different answers but thew one thing most can agree on is that money talks in Tanzania. NGOs who are corrupt have a lot of power and money, which gets them out of a lot of predicaments. There is a Social Welfare Administration that every NGO has to register with, they have the right to shut down a corrupt organization if need be. Most times they won’t do much unless there is proven and obvious neglect or abuse of children or other vulnerable populations caused by the incompetence or greed of the managers or staff. Most NGOs are funded through international sources and so if there is money mismanagement then it is up to the international funder to come to Tanzania and sue the people responsible….this does not happen as much as you might think it does. The actual suing part that is. I am still researching this question and will post something about it when I find more conclusive info. Thanks for the questions!

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  2. Jennifer Jeziorski

    Travis,
    Just came across your blogs; you’re doing wonderful things! How amazing that you’re going over and beyond by offering your musical talents. You’re affording the social work field an amazing reputation, as well as UB’s SSW! Keep up with the awesome work!

    Jen

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