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The Olive Branch for Children
Deborah’s Montessori School

Location: Mbeya, Tanzania

Website: www.theolivebranchforchildren.org
Program Established: 2005
# of Children: 20 Ages Served: 2 ½ - 8 years old
Immediate Needs:
  1. Funds to provide the children with a daily nutritious snack and main meal.
  2. Donations to cover the cost of transportation for children not living at the orphanage.
  3. Educational materials including Montessori writing and reading supplies, chalk boards and woven mats.
  4. Operating funds to provide children with uniforms and shoes.
  5. Establish a General Fund to be used where the need is greatest; for example to give medicine to ill children whose families cannot afford medical care.

Contact Person: Ginette McCracken
Contact Information: info@theolivebranchforchildren.org

In 2005 Deborah McCracken founded the Olive Branch for Children to provide relief for orphans in the Mbeya region of Tanzania who were born with AIDS or HIV or whose parents have died or suffered from AIDS. In addition to providing life-saving medical care to the communities and developing self-sustainability projects, one of the major objectives is to improve the education of Tanzanian children through the Montessori initiative. Thus, Deborah’s Montessori School was created to serve both the children at the orphanage and those from surrounding villages.

Deborah’s Montessori School began as cement block room. In 2006, with the help of a volunteer from Canada, Clara De Simone who is an interior designer, the space was transformed from a bare room into a learning haven for young children. In 2007 we were able to add to the dream by adding wraparound shelving units and child sized tables and chairs. In August of that year we welcomed two more volunteers, Jamie and Pam Rossiter who are trained Montessori teachers. They hosted a Montessori clinic that benefitted our teaching staff as well as nursery school teachers from the entire Mbeya region.

Deborah, who herself had a Montessori education, also founded the Zion/HIV Home which houses 8 children between the ages of 2 and 10, all of whom were born with the HIV virus. A full time nurse from the community takes care of the children with the assistance of three other women who attend to their daily needs. All children under 8 living in the Zion Home attend the Montessori school.

Deborah’s goal is to instill in the children in her care the sense that their future is bright and healthy and that they can and will flourish in their community, despite being born with HIV.


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