Carpenter’s Kids

Who are the Carpenter’s Kids?

Anglican parishes in Tanzania, a poor country in East Africa, typically each have some 200 orphans living at a subsistence level. Their futures would be grim if Tanzanian Anglicans had not decided to do something about it. It’s a huge task, and they have asked for help through their Carpenter’s Kids program.

Most of these children have lost one or both parents to HIV/AIDS. Their grandparents, or sometimes a surviving parent or other members of their extended families, care for them as well as they can, but can afford to do little beyond providing minimal food and somewhere to sleep.

The program assists in a practical way by making it possible for these children to go to school. Something we perhaps take for granted makes an enormous difference for them.

The Carpenter’s Kids program is open to all children, regardless of religion.

What is the scale of the problem?

The program is centred on the Anglican Diocese of Central Tanganyika, which is based in the city of Dodoma in the central region of Tanzania. It has about 550,000 members spread across 200 parishes. Surveys suggest that there are at least 200 HIV/AIDS orphans and other vulnerable children in a typical parish. Using this estimate, local Anglicans believe there to be a total number of 40,000 or more HIV/AIDS orphans and other vulnerable children within the Diocese. Without parental support, these children are unable to afford the uniforms and supplies necessary to attend school. They may be ostracised and end up on the street.

Street children in Tanzania

Street children in Tanzania

What is the Carpenter’s Kids Program doing about it?

The program gives each Carpenter’s Kid a school uniform, shoes, and adequate school supplies to enable them to attend school. The children also get breakfast on school days, and support in medical emergencies. Most are in primary school, but some are at secondary school.

We are helping Matumbulu Parish (in the city of Dodoma) to reach its target of 50 Carpenter’s kids in school over a five year period (2013-18).

This is the second round of support from St Paul’s. In 2007, after Bishop Mdimi and his wife Irene visited us, the Young Adults group led St Paul’s in sponsoring 50 children until June 2013.

How much does it cost?

$US70 makes it possible for a child to attend school – for a year!

How can such a small amount possibly make any real difference?

Tanzania is not the poorest country in Africa. There is a free primary school system, and kids with a primary education have a chance of further education and a decent job. But they are often discouraged from attending school if they don’t have uniforms, including a pair of shoes, and they must bring their own pencils, pads and so on. A little help – the cost of a school uniform and shoes, some basic school supplies plus a modest breakfast every school day – gives them a huge opportunity.

Watch a five-minute video on the program here.

How can I help?

We have raised all the funds needed for the 2013-18 period, and we are now assisting with other gifts such as solar-powered personal study lights – there is no electricity in the village. If you would like to donate, please print and fill out the form below. Forms, along with cash or cheques (payable to St Paul’s Manuka), can be placed in a clearly marked envelope in the collection plate or mailed to:

St Paul’s Anglican Church Manuka
PO Box 3417
Manuka ACT 2603

If you would prefer to pay by electronic funds transfer, contact Les Bohm (phone 61614963, mobile 0407031736 or les.bohm@gmail.com) or the office at St Paul’s for account details. Receipts will be issued if requested, but please note that donations are not tax-deductible under Australian law.

A child receives her new school uniform, shoes and hygiene items

A child receives her new school uniform, shoes and hygiene items

Why are my donations not tax-deductible?

Tax deductibility for charitable gifts is a complex business in Australia. For your gift to be deductible, the St Paul’s Carpenter’s Kids support group would have to be registered as a charity in its own right, and because the program is carried out overseas we would also need to be approved by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. We would need our own ABN and to be a separate legal entity.

All of this requires management structures that would be overly cumbersome, given our comparatively modest fund-raising goals. We will of course keep this issue under review, but at this time we are putting our energy into fund-raising rather than negotiating complex tax laws.

What else can I do?

  • Join the Carpenter’s Kids committee – we are always looking for help with publicity and fund-raising. Contact Les Bohm on phone 61614963, mobile 0407031736 or les.bohm@gmail.com
  • Spread the word – there are many more parishes in Tanzania that would welcome partners
  • Come along to a Carpenter’s Kids information session, advertised in the pew bulletin and on the news pages of this website
  • Support a fund-raising activity or buy an Entertainment Book
  • Raise funds at your workplace, school or club
  • Join a pilgrimage to Tanzania – these are organized every year by the Diocese of New York, and are reported to be transformative experiences for everybody involved
  • Pray for the Carpenter’s Kids, and for those who support them.

Who else is involved?

At this time, St Paul’s appears to be the only Australian Anglican parish with an ongoing commitment to the program. The major international partner for Carpenter’s Kids is the Episcopalian Diocese of New York, along with some other American dioceses and individual churches in the UK, New Zealand, Canada and elsewhere. New York is providing invaluable assistance with fund-raising, communications and advocacy, but it is important to understand that the project is led by the church in Tanzania – Africans on the ground responding to African needs at a grassroots level.

You can read more about the New York partnership here.

Why should we send our money to Africa? Aren’t there plenty of Australian kids facing terrible circumstances, homeless or vulnerable in other ways?

Indeed there are, and there is much to be done in Australia. But these African children have only their families and their churches: there is no safety net, no welfare state in Tanzania. The surviving members of their families are trying to do what they can, but they themselves are poor. Meanwhile, a sum that would buy little in Australia is significant in East Africa. But it should also be remembered that Tanzania is not the poorest country in Africa. There is great need elsewhere, such as in South Sudan, where Australian Anglicans are also at work.

Does it really make a difference? Isn’t the whole situation hopeless?

Our faith is built on hope and God’s promise that there is always a new chance. Reports coming in from Tanzania bear this out. Above all, it appears that sponsored children are doing better than the national average in exams. This is extraordinary, given the difficult circumstances in which they live.

Carpenter's Kids recipients

Carpenter’s Kids recipients