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Through a child’s eyes: 10-year old Stoke-on-Trent girl visits Tanzania with child development charity

Last month, 10-year-old Emilie Garratt from Stoke-on-Trent travelled with her mum to meet 13-year-old Ana from Olkollili in northern Tanzania.

When Emilie met 13-year-old Anastanzia in April, it was an unlikely friendship; the girls are being raised almost 4,000 miles apart in different families, neighbourhoods, races and cultures.

Ana lives in a remote hillside village of around 3,000 residents. The houses in Ana’s neighbourhood are mostly made from earth and clay while the roofs are made from grass or tin. Ana’s own house has an electricity supply but many of the surrounding houses do not. The local customs in Ana’s village make early child marriage a particular risk for girls. 85% of the adults in Ana’s area are unemployed but when they do work, they often work as animal herders or plantation workers. The average income for adults in her neighbourhood is £9 per week. Ana’s own hobbies include playing marbles and singing.

Emilie is from Trentham in Stoke-on-Trent and in Year 5 of Ash Green Primary School. She loves horse riding and is a member of the Pony Club. Emilie plays the flute, loves dancing, and is a member of her local church with her parents and younger brother Joseph.

Emilie describes, “When I met Ana I felt quite anxious because she was going to be looking after me for the next few days and we didn’t know each other at all. I really wanted it to be the most amazing experience of my life, and the minute I held her hand I knew that she was going to be a great friend!”

During the trip Emilie was shown around Ana’s school, classroom, library, Compassion project and home. Emilie recalls, “Ana had about 10 goats, 15 sheep and 2 rabbits to sell and eat, so they are quite blessed compared to other families. She has 2 other brothers and a baby sister. She also has her Grandad, her Auntie and her Mum and Dad living with her so most of her family were there for me to meet as well. I can tell she is very loved. Home is different for me, more comfortable, but I am the same as Ana in having a family that love me at home.”

Ana is connected to a sponsor through Compassion UK, a child development charity which seeks to empower children living in poverty through the support of local churches. Compassion has more than 60 years’ experience working with some of the world’s poorest children. At present more than 1.8 million children attend Compassion’s church-based projects in 25 of the world’s poorest countries.

Georgina, Emilie’s mum reflects, “Without doubt this trip has given Emilie a clearer understanding of life beyond the city that we live. Before the trip, Emilie wasn’t really sure what to expect and had limited understanding of what life would be like for a child growing up in Tanzania. I think the trip really opened her eyes to life outside of the UK – the beauty of the country but also the challenges that those living there are facing.”

“As parents, we try to teach our children, and model to them, the importance of having compassion for others, to demonstrate generosity, and to show love. This trip allowed Emilie to outwork all these things, but what was wonderful to see was how she not only gave, but she received. She was welcomed, she was cared for and she was shown love and friendship. She saw the challenges that the children face, but she saw their smiles too,” explains Georgina, a school administration assistant.

Emilie recalls, “The most special thing for me would probably be the friendship that Ana and I had because I remember that the second she came out from the crowd to meet me, I had a feeling that I would never forget her!”


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