Raising a Fatherless Nation

Raising a Fatherless Nation

By: Erasto Malila, Compassion Tanzania Communications Specialist   |   Posted: May 18, 2006

Compassion Tanzania Inspires Fathers to Stay at Home
Seuri L. Shumbani is happy that his father returned home after attending a Compassion Tanzania Bible-based seminar on fatherhood and parenting.

"When my father divorced my mother, our family was sick with sadness," says Seuri L. Shumbani, recalling his father's abandonment. "We missed him so much."

Abandoned by his father, Seuri was not only destroyed emotionally; he was thrust into economic ruin. He, his mom and two younger siblings, members of the storied Masai Tribe, could no longer afford to live alone and had to move into their grandmother's small hut. In their dusty, barren community northeast of Arusha, where farming is the main source of income, a family's average income is just U.S.$0.67 a day.

"I missed my husband's love, his protection and support," Seuri's mother recalls. "I had to sell vegetables to feed my family. It was really difficult to afford life without my husband."

Seuri's heart-wrenching experience is shared by the estimated 13,000 fatherless children enrolled in Compassion Tanzania's programs. Thankfully though, hope has begun to replace despair for many of these children, including Seuri; it has come in the form of an innovative parenting program.

Compassion's Male-Focused Parenting Classes

In response to the plight of fatherless children, Compassion Tanzania in February 2004 created a new male-focused parenting-skills program that is designed to counsel fathers to stay with their families and to understand their importance to their children's well-being.

"In our culture, many groups believe that taking care of the children is only a woman's responsibility," says Compassion Tanzania Country Director Dr. Emmanuel Mbennah. "This is detrimental to the holistic development of children and is unfair to women. We wanted to address this, and with God's help change this philosophy among parents."

12,000 Pledge to Be Better Parents

Since the classes began, more than 12,000 fathers have attended the program that is now taught in 36 Compassion-assisted projects across Tanzania. Fathers hear from God's Word about how to care for their children (Deuteronomy 6:6-7; Job 1:5, 29:12-16). Participants also learn about the importance of teaching their children life skills, empowering them to lead upstanding lives (Proverb 22:6) and to abstain from child abuse.

As a result of this new program, many fathers have accepted Christ. All of them have pledged to be better parents, including Seuri's father, who attended the classes at his son's project, Engokidong'oi Student Center (TZ-502), located northeast of Arusha.

Since taking the classes, Seuri's father has returned home, remarried his wife, and assumed his responsibilities as breadwinner and head of the family home. Seuri couldn't be more excited. "He takes care of me and gives me good guidance now," he says.

Mrs. Shumbani is also thrilled about her husband's return. "There has been a big transformation since my husband rejoined us - we no longer have family conflicts like before. I thank God for the Compassion program and how it has changed my husband!"

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