Blog Tanzania

Holistic Health Care in Tanzania


Each seat is filled in the fifteen-passenger van waiting to take a group of children to the optometrist in the city. When we arrive, we sit in rows of seats, reserved for us, a corridor of the office blocked off for our group. One by one the children are called back and examined. Four will receive glasses for the first time and one will leave with a new pair, to accommodate an updated prescription. 

waitingateyedr The kids from the Children’s Home wait to see the optometrist
Dotto_eyedr Dotto has her eyes examined by the doctor
Costaeyedr The optometrist checks Costa’s vision


A visit to the eye doctor may seem mundane but being able to see small details on trees with vivid clarity or each letter written on the blackboard all the way from the back row for the first time is nothing short of amazing. It’s also unfortunately, not a guarantee for many kids in Tanzania.

masuke Happy shows off her new glasses


A few days after this visit, one of the girls with new glasses ran over to show them off. “Auntie, I can see so much better! I can see the board better, I can see everything better!” she beamed.

Nineteen year-old Tausi was also prescribed glasses for the first time. She has a sensitivity to light that caused her eye pain for years. “I would have to stop reading because of the strain on my eyes, it was painful,” Tausi says.

She received special glasses that decrease the amount of light that enters the eye and can already see a difference. Tausi says it’s much easier to read for longer periods of time without pain.

Tausi Tausi is excited to wear her new glasses to school

She starts school again this week, after first term break, wearing her new glasses for the first time. “I’m excited to see the difference in my studies,” Tausi says. “I’ll be able to study even longer and do even better.” Tausi is in Form 3 and hopes to pursue law in the future.

“The starting point for me is from a human rights perspective, a child’s right standpoint,” Melisa Yorgancioğlu says. “All children regardless of their background, have a fundamental right to their health, safety, education, and the opportunity to fulfill their potential.”

Melisa Yorgancioğlu is the new help2kids Health Project Manager in Tanzania. After earning her MSC in Development Management and interning at multiple NGOs focused on community health, she arrived in Tanzania eager to expand the new help2kids Health Project with a dual focus on treatment and prevention, accomplished through health education. 

MelMosqNets Melisa and Editha, the help2kids Health Project Coordinator, address the nursery school students at Bajeviro before handing out mosquito nets

“The two go hand-in-hand: treatment and prevention,” Melisa says. “A workshop is only useful if the participants have the tools they need to treat the children.”

The help2kids Health Project combines the tools required for health and wellbeing with the education to utilize them.

Currently, the help2kids Health Project serves 550 children dispersed across the help2kids Children’s Home, three partner orphanages, and Bajeviro Primary School. One of Melisa’s first goals as Health Project Manager has been to schedule annual, comprehensive physical exams for all the children the Health Project serves. This includes seeing a pediatrician, dentist, and an optometrist. These visits serve as part of the treatment focus of the Health Project.

Also under treatment, is transportation to and from the hospital when children are sick or injured, and covering the medical expenses involved. Since May, the Health Project has transported more than 75 ill or injured children to the hospital and covered the costs of the medical examination and treatment.

In terms of prevention, the Health Project provides vital resources like mosquito nets to all its beneficiaries and hosts a series of educational workshops. Most recently, the Health Project put on a First Aid Workshop for caregivers from the Children’s Home, our partner orphanages, and teachers from Bajeviro Primary School. The workshop covered a range of topics from detecting, testing, and treating malaria to dressing a wound, and wrapping minor injuries. The workshop also educated participants on how to use all of the items found in first aid cabinets provided by the Health Project, and restocked each month.

melmosqnets2 nets3

The first aid cabinets include items to treat cold and flu symptoms, a thermometer, bandages and medical tape, antiseptics, antibiotics (administered under a doctor’s recommendation), a scale to monitor proper nutrition and physical development, toothbrushes, toothpaste, and dental floss, malaria tests, antibiotic ointments, and sanitary pads, as well as other health items designated through questionnaires and feedback gathered from the partner institutions.

woundcare The presenter at the First Aid Workshop demonstrates how to correctly wrap an injury

Melisa is also in the planning stage for two additional health workshops, aimed at reaching children directly rather than their caregivers. The hope is that when a child is educated about health, the benefits reach beyond that individual child and create a ripple effect in communities.

“Those children can then become role models in their households and communities, and those health messages can be disseminated beyond the individual.”

Health education also creates a setting for open dialogue about health topics that may be stigmatized. This too has a potential for a ripple effect, creating more open and accepting communities.

The Health Project aims to address the often-taboo topics of sexual and reproductive health, sexual abuse, and gender-based violence, through a series of workshops currently in the planning stages.

According to the United Nations Children’s Fund, 30 percent of girls and 15 percent of boys in Tanzania experience sexual violence before the age of 18.

“Where there are one or two cases we know about there are probably many more we don’t,” Melisa says.

It can be difficult to come forward with any type of sexual abuse due to the stigma surrounding it and the lack of resources available to the child.

help2kids is working to change that by providing access to post-trauma care. The help2kids Health Project recently partnered with one of only four practicing psychologists in all of Tanzania to provide post-trauma counseling and care. The psychologist focuses on children and gender-based violence, meeting the critical needs of children affected by abuse.

“It’s safe to say that the beneficiaries of the Health Project all come from very marginalized backgrounds and households, some even from the streets,” Melisa says.

It is important to not just remove a child from the dangerous situation they might be in but to view that is simply the first step that needs to be taken in a crisis situation.

“It isn’t enough to just provide them with a safe environment, it’s an injustice to make a child deal with the emotional wounds on their own,” Melisa says.

The Health Project hopes to offer psychiatric services that specifically address experiences with sexual abuse, to all its beneficiaries.

“I hope we can break or prevent any vicious cycles from starting. Not only having an immediate impact on those children’s lives but also having a long-term impact on those children’s children and potential partners.”

We hope to provide resources and foster an environment that enables those currently experiencing abuse to tell someone, and to continue providing support after the child is removed from the dangerous situation, committing to care for the child as they work through the emotional trauma they have faced.

As an organization, we can provide glasses to improve vision, and antibiotics to treat malaria, but the Health Project aims to do more than that, to improve the overall health and wellbeing of the children it serves. The help2kids Health Project seeks to address emotional and physical health in order to enable kids to reach their full potential and thrive.