Magreth Mapunda is 71 years old, and is the founder and director of the Songea branch of SHIKUWATA, a Community Based Organisation helping disabled people in Tanzania.
“It is important that these children get the chance to get an education. I saw that these children were marginalised and ignored by most people, I decided that I must be one of the few that help them and so I set up this organisation. It is a difficult task, but very rewarding. We are extremely grateful to COCO and Hoja Project for supporting us, without you and your supporters these children would still be hidden at home.”
Magreth achieved form four (GCSE equivalent) at school, but did not perform well enough to continue her education. She set up a business selling drinks in Dar Es Salaam, but always wanted to help disabled people. She worked with another organisation for two years, but did not think they were having a very big impact on the lives of those with disabilities, so she started to work with SHIKUWATA.
In 2009, she opened a branch in Songea, in southern Tanzania, and soon became director of the whole organisation when the previous director died.
COCO provided sustainable agriculture training to SHIKUWATA to support a Food for Fees programme. With the help of the local community, Magreth has successfully grown rice, maize, sunflower and peas. These crops were sold, and the profits used to support 30 disabled children, allowing them to go to school. The children got pencils, pens, exercise books and uniforms.
She hopes to grow more crops to be able to support more children because she has found another 59 children who need her support in the region.