Touched by Angels

01Jan 2018
Edward Qorro
The Guardian
Touched by Angels

STELLA William arrives at the Arusha bus terminus on a cold morning back in 2006.

Christa Nangawe (yellow dress) pictured together with some of the ten girls from Pippi House Foundation. First left is Kanasia Urio, founder and CEO of the foundation.

Her face speaks volumes of how a stranger she felt upon setting foot in this bustling city, having escaped the difficult life in Singida.

The 20 year old was convinced that she would get a better paying job once she landed in Arusha.

“While growing up in Singida we were told of many things about Arusha including the good life we would find there,” narrates the soft spoken Stella.

However, that was not to be.

After several attempts of looking for something to do in Arusha, Stella ended up becoming a house help.

This marked the beginning of her nightmarish experience in the city otherwise known as the Geneva of Africa.

While working at the house, Stella was subjected to beatings from her employee and other kinds of sufferings.

At one point, she was denied meals, forcing her to ask for food from a neighbour.

“I got tired of such of kind of a life, I was hoping to sneak out of the house and head anywhere where I could find refuge,” she recalls.

After going two months without salary, Stella thought this was enough.

She gathered her belongings and left the house seeking refuge elsewhere.

“I didn’t know anyone in this city, I wouldn’t have gone through such a time had I seen an inside of a classroom,” she says.

After three weeks out in the cold, Stella heard about Pippi House Foundation.

She got in touch with the Foundation’s Manager and Matron, Kanasia Urio and relocated there.

During her stay at the foundation, Stella was enrolled for primary school lessons.

Now, at class six, Stella knows how to read and write and is now focusing on musical lessons offered at the centre, courtesy Christa Nangawe, an accomplished and talented music teacher who is also the Chief Executive Officer and Founder of Kilima Music Academy in Arusha.

Attached at the Academy, Stella is now working to improve her voice, ready to hit the airwaves.

“My passion is in Gospel Music, I hope that when I’m done with the lessons, I will be one of the greatest Gospel artistes in the country,” she says with a smile.

Aisia Juma always wanted to become a lawyer to defend those whose rights get infringed.

Unfortunately she has never been to a classroom and never knew her father while growing up in Njiro with his brother.

Their mother was the only source of hope.

“Our mother used to fend for us, there were days we went to bed on empty stomachs,” recalls the 18 year old.

To escape the life pangs, her mother heard about Pippi Foundation and was compelled to send her daughter there.

She joined other homeless and vulnerable children at the foundation in 2016, and two years on, her life has changed for the better.

Aisia is now a Form Three student at Lemara Secondary School in Arusha.

“Currently I’m learning to play the Guitar and I hope one day I’ll realise my dream of becoming a lawyer.”

At the moment, Aisia is contented with life at Pippis Foundation, located in the affluent Njiro suburb in Arusha.

“We all live as a family bonded by love, peace and unity,” she says.

Recalling the foundation’s early days in 2011, Kanasia Urio says it wasn’t easy to go round streets looking for the 10 girls living in difficult conditions.

“Some of the girls weren’t ready to open up on their sufferings and how they ended up on the streets,” she says.

“At times those who help us in running this center delay in sending us money and other kinds of donation, nonetheless, what keeps us grounded and motivated, is seeing the smiles on these girl’s faces”.

Kanasia also uses social network platforms to reach out to girls leaving in hardships.

“We advertise the foundation online so that whoever knows or comes across a young girls living in deplorable conditions they can bring them here so that we take good care of them,” explains the matron.

For Kanasia, caring for such girls is a calling.

And as part of her devotion, she shares the same house with the girls.

As part of her job, Kanasia shares the same house with the girls.

In 2012, while working as a music teacher for Braeburn School in Arusha, Christa discovered about the Pippi House Foundation.

She recalls being moved by Kanasia’s cause towards the Foundation and encouraged a student council at Braeburn to do a fundraiser through a school bake sale to support the girls staying at the foundation.

“We used the money raised to buy books and food items and donated it to the girls. They were very grateful and mentioned that they would love to start a music programme but at the time I wasn't in a position to offer anything,” she explains.

Six years on, with the Kilima Music Academy at her disposal, Christa saw the need to start an outreach programme and the first people that came to her mind were the girls at Pippi house foundation.

“I wanted to use my talent as a way of giving back to the society and the first people I thought off were the girls at the foundation.”

She adds: Their stories of abuse and family struggle moved realise that I'm so blessed to have an education and to have a skill and the means to start my own company so I felt moved to be a blessing to others as well.

Christa felt that it wasn’t just about educating girls for the sake of educating but it's important for one to find their inner talents and strengths so they can use it as a way of employment or livelihood.

 “I wake up every day excited to work with my music students and excited to use creative energy in my day to day routine,” explains the Music prodigy.

According to Christa, the cause has created employment opportunities for herself and others within the community and it's something that she’s very passionate about.

Besides being a passion, Christa says she would feel blessed once she uses her musical talent in teaching the girls music as an opportunity for them to create employment for themselves, and to support their independence.

Thanks to her, the 10 girls at Pippi House Foundation are now learning music theory and have also been enrolled for the Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music (ABRSM) practical examinations.

“The girls are currently studying group music theory classes and will commence on instrumental classes this month…most of them are interested in playing the piano and it is my belief that they will reach far.”

Christa is equally grateful to Singita Grumeti Fund in supporting her noble cause, and she says that she will one day hope to see the girls performing in big stages.

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