Amani will always give tribute to Mama Josephine Bakhita who started the Amani Centre in Chamwino in 1992. Mama Bakhita worked as a social worker, and was married. But, after giving birth to a disabled son, Erick, she was evicted from her matrimonial home, which is a common occurence in Tanzania. Treated as an outcast, Mama Bakhita was determined to fight for her and her son’s social justice. Bringing together fellow parents whose children also had physical and or mental challenges, she established and built, with support from the Catholic Diocese, what is now today the Amani Centre. The group of mothers with their disabled children would meet under the mango tree, which can still be seen outside the Centre today. Mama Bakhita retired as a government worker in 2009. Father Beatus was put in place by the Bishop, as the new Director of the Amani Centre.
Father Beatus Sewando and the Roman Catholic Church together have the responsibility for Amani. However, the Centre is open to all, no matter what their religion or faith is and welcomes anyone who is in need or who would like to support the Centre. Amani receives no aid from the government for these children or their families and has, over the years, fought to overcome the cultural stigmatism around disabled people in this part of the world. The Amani Centre is a safe haven in many ways for these children and their families.
Although Amani started out as just a small group of mothers meeting under a tree, the Amani centre has grown over the years. It is now located in three different neighbourhoods and villages around Morogoro: Chamwino, Mvomero and Mikese.
Chamwino, being the first of the centres, is the largest and most central. This is where the majority of Amani administration is based. The Amani Hostel, the Eco-tourism office, the Physiotherapy department, the awareness group and the Amani café are all based in Chamwino along with the day care centre. We also have our own garden just outside town where we farm vegetables and maize.
Mikese is part of Amani and is a centre and farm for the youth of the community. The Mikese is a farm with over 60 acres of crops. The farm rears chickens, goats and cows. It also keeps bees. The crops consist of maize, mango trees, orange trees, lemon tress, sunflower, cow peas, pumpkin, and white beans. The crops provide food for the Amani Centre as well as the famine-prone families around the Centre.
Mvomero is located just two hours away from the Amani centre, Morogoro and is reachable by public transport. It is a self-sustaining centre, which runs educational activities to stimulate the children. Along with the running of the farm, a school for the deaf and tailoring classes have been established. The idea is to teach the children essential skills to enable to become more independent in everyday life. At Mvomero we keep milking goats, dairy cows and pigs. We also farm maize, rice and mango.