One Heart Source was founded in 2008 on the belief that injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. In that year, UNAIDS estimated that there were nearly 2.4 million orphaned children in Tanzania, at least 1 million of whom were orphaned as a result of HIV/AIDS, a preventable disease. Children orphaned due to HIV/AIDS are often ‘double orphans’ (they lose both biological parents) due to HIV being transmitted sexually.
The prospective life opportunity for an orphaned child in Tanzania is bleak. There are few government or private institutions capable of caring for children, with only an estimated care capacity of 3,500 spaces available out of the millions in need.
Even those who are lucky enough to access one of these spots often receive only the bare minimum needed to survive and upon reaching the age of 18 are ‘aged out’ and told to make a life for themselves. As a result, abandoned, orphaned, and other vulnerable children are extremely likely to either be incarcerated upon release if male and are likely to turn to prostitution to survive if female.
This perpetuates socioeconomic inequality and HIV/AIDS vulnerability, causing the cycle to repeat itself.
In the absence of a proven working model to confront the catastrophic reality of this crisis, the One Heart Source Children’s Welfare Center was established in 2008 as a place of peace, learning, and family for abandoned, orphaned, and vulnerable children. In the six years since its inception, OHS evolved from a home center into a social welfare network providing care for vulnerable children who cannot be cared for by their biological families.
One Heart Source designs sustainable life plans for each child enrolled in the network based on their available web of care and academic opportunities. We work closely with social workers and the child’s surviving family members to research the family history and available network of care for every child at One Heart Source. Re-integration into the child’s biological family is considered to be in the best interest of the child whenever possible, through capacity building and careful trials and monitoring, as it creates a long-term, non-institutional solution for the child. Overall, the goal of One Heart Source is to offer each child it serves a fair life by improving the quality of daily nutritional value, academic and social learning, personal care and attention, and life opportunity.
The children of the OHS Family have proven their resilience by coming from great struggle, yet emerging as loving, positive people focused on bettering their own lives as well as the world at large. Each child’s life plan is monitored by OHS Social Workers and Care-Givers in order to ensure that the children receive the support they need to thrive and become contributing members of their communities. All of our children are on a path towards university and becoming global citizens, whilst always staying connected to their families and communities in Tanzania. We look forward to continuing to provide them with nutrition, love, health care, hope, education, and joy as we grow together towards a brighter and more just future.