The Gerladina Orphanage and Education Centre (GOEC) was a lifelong dream for Founding Director Thadeus Mutarubukwa, who recognized the great need for assistance to orphaned and vulnerable children in his hometown of Bukoba, Tanzania. Thadeus has dedicated his entire life to the betterment of the lives of children in his community, first as a teacher, then as an executive with an international children’s aid agency, and now through GOEC. After experiencing the profound loss of his own Mother, named Gerladina, and through great personal sacrifice, Thadeus brought this dream to reality. With the help of Emily Mallett and Kim Lalonde, who met Thadeus in Tanzania while on a mission trip from Canada in 2005, GOEC first opened its doors on March 15th, 2007. Located near the shores of Lake Victoria, this loving residence is currently home to 23 children.
Once GOEC was well established within the community, and all of the resident children had attained sponsorship, Thadeus reached out further into the community, looking for families who needed assistance with schooling costs for their children, and a Neighbourhood Children program was established, providing an education sponsorship program for children who still had surviving family members, able to care for them, but who did not have the means to attend school. This valuable program enables children to complete their basic schooling, where they would otherwise be required to abandon their learning and start to work to support their families.
In 2012, GOEC Executive Director Emily Mallett returned to Tanzania, this time joined by Operations Director Miranda Harpell, to witness Thadeus’ dream fully materialize with the breaking ground of the future permanent home for GOEC. This new facility, once completed, will house 100 female and 100 male orphaned and vulnerable children, will have 8 classrooms, office space for teachers and plenty of play space. Thanks to the Brighten our Future program series, an annual fundraising event held in Toronto, 4 classrooms have been constructed to date, with construction of the 5th to begin in 2016. Some of the children are currently attending classes in the completed classrooms, assisted through sponsorship under GOEC’s third sponsorship program, the Mushobozi Memorial Sponsorship Program. Mushobozi was one of GOEC’s resident children who died suddenly from a heart condition in 2013. This third tier of sponsorship was set up in his name, specifically for students at the future permanent home of GOEC. Mushobozi’s spirit and love for school lives on through the children supported in his name.
Through child sponsorship and generous donations, the children living at GOEC, as well as the children assisted through the Neighbourhood Children program and the Mushobozi Memorial Scholarship Fund, are living lives more enriched by education. Thadeus is a local village man, working tirelessly to give back to his community. We are a global community, with the means to keep his dream alive. Together, we can give these children a brighter future.
Because we can, we must.