The Banana Tree Project supports former street and orphanage children in Mwanza, Tanzania through their primary, secondary and vocational education.
The Banana Tree Project pays no salaries and has no bureaucratic running costs. It is administered in Mwanza by Ruth and Barry Clement, former UK Head Teachers who have been Head Teachers in Mwanza for over a decade. They volunteer their free time to supervise payments and liaise with school staff to ensure the charity operates free of charge. The BTP was established, and is directed, by Ed Beavington, a UK teacher. He visits the orphanages and schools on an annual basis, at his own expense, and works closely with the school Head Teachers to ensure that all the charity’s activities are transparent and accountable. The Board of Trustees are retired UK teachers and doctors. They are accountable to the England and Wales Charity Commission.
The children supported by The Banana Tree Project are some of the poorest, most underprivileged children in Tanzania. Some have spent time living on the streets of Mwanza. Others have been sent to orphanages by their destitute families. In some cases, the children have lost their parents to AIDS, malaria, bilharzias, typhoid or myriad other diseases. In other cases, the families simply do not have the money or food to look after their child. Some children join orphanages as young teenagers hoping to make something of their lives. Others have grown up in the orphanages and have known nothing else.
The Banana Tree Project supports orphanage children through their primary and, in particular, secondary education. Primary tuition is free although children must buy a school uniform, school shoes and stationery. This costs up to £20 a year for one child. There are often over 100 children in a class, with some schools offering a split day timetable with different year groups attending in the morning and afternoon. Lessons are in Swahili and reports are issued at the end of the year in December. Secondary education is expensive. While the government runs some fee paying schools, the majority of secondary schools are private. Students work towards their Form II, Form IV and Form VI national exams in classes of generally no more than 40 children. With tuition fees, stationery, uniforms, school meals and exam fees taken into account, it costs up to £500 a year for one child to attend secondary school.
The Banana Tree Project
The Banana Tree Project aims to allow underprivileged children in Mwanza, Tanzania to attend primary and secondary school and vocational colleges. With limited funding it is not possible to support every child meaning that difficult decisions are made as to who to support based on effort and academic performance. When possible, The Banana Tree Project pays for school breakfasts and lunches to ensure that the children can focus on their studies. When resources allow, The Banana Tree Project funds limited renovation of the orphanages to help maintain a basic standard of living. Since its establishment in November 2006, The Banana Tree Project has supported over 70 children through secondary education and over 150 children through primary school. It has helped to renovate four different orphanages.