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In 2003 The Mango Tree (TMT) Orphan Support Programme was founded by long-standing clients, William and Gail Fulton, as a humanitarian response to HIV and AIDS in southern Tanzania. Since then, it has raised over £15 million with which it has supported the education of 27,000 orphans, all of whom lost one or both parents to HIV/AIDS. 75% of those young people have now completed secondary school and of those 65% have completed some form of further education or training. 12,504 people are now working in a range of different professions.

TMT’s strategic aims are:

  1.  Education & training – Tackling rural poverty sustainably, TMT has made education accessible for disadvantaged children and young people. Education is a powerful tool for breaking the cycle of poverty, providing children with the tools they need to consider higher education, find employment, participate in their communities and succeed in life. The construction of two large-scale educational projects – a vocational training college in Tanzania, and a girls’ secondary boarding school in Kenya – underpin its strategy to future-proof TMT’s legacy, ensuring young people living in rural and marginalised areas of East Africa have access to secondary education and practical skills training long into the future.
  1. Gender empowerment – Empowering girls and women by breaking down the barriers linked to sexual health, which prevent them from thriving in education, has resulted in excellent educational outcomes and flourishing women’s entrepreneurship. When additional support is provided within education systems, the school experience for children and young people is enhanced. This greatly increases their likelihood of successfully completing their education, securing employment, and gaining better incomes in the future. It offers a more resilient pathway out of poverty for generations of children to come.
  1. Resilient communities – TMT has strengthened family resilience, increased incomes and food security, reduced unemployment and revived local economies, lifting over 250,000 people out of extreme poverty. Its community-based sustainable livelihoods projects have provided local communities with access to resources and opportunities that they may not otherwise have had. By levering existing local assets, skills, and knowledge, and finding the best comparative advantage, these rural communities now run their own sustainable land-based businesses in aquaculture, goats, pigs, chickens, cacao, cash crops, fruit, vegetables, and honey production. 93% of these families report that they now produce a more diverse range of food, from eggs and honey to fish and fruit. This means that families have a balanced diet and can afford to pay the costs of education for their children.
  1. Health & wellbeing – The inclusion of sexual and reproductive health mentoring has particularly empowered girls to take a more proactive approach to safeguarding their health and considerably reduced the incidences of teenage pregnancy. In the long term, girls with more years of education take greater control in family planning, and ultimately have fewer, healthier children, later in life. Additionally, the provision of adequate sanitation infrastructure and otherwise unaffordable menstruation products has had a massive impact on reducing menstruation-related absences and enabling girls to keep up with their lessons. 95% of all the girls we sponsor attribute their positive retention in school towards our added-value care. This includes mentoring, social work visits, sexual and reproductive health support, protection from violence and the provision of safe, supportive homes.
  1. African-led organisations – TMT has consistently invested in the development of African-led organisations, always maintaining low UK overheads, and by doing so prioritising institutional funding to its partners. By investing in grassroots innovation, community-led projects, and partners’ capacity, it has created a strong foundation on which they can grow independently. The past 20 years have also seen TMT recruit, train, and support 530 local village-based volunteers. Around 3,400 alumni have also provided volunteering. This network of volunteers has resulted in the emergence of locally embedded, grass roots sustainable development. These people are at the heart of the social transformation that has happened. They have become respected community leaders who represent their communities, advocate for the poor, and raise their voices for social, economic and environmental change.

More than 60 UK gap-year students or university graduates have volunteered for TMT over the past 20 years. This cultural exchange and practical volunteering programme has had tremendous benefits for both African and European students. Some volunteers have helped set up new projects and have since pursued careers in International Development. In Africa, learning English and socialising with children from Europe has been invaluable for their confidence and self-esteem.

The future of The Mango Tree

Over the next eighteen months, as part of the Sustainable Communities Project, TMT will be gradually transferring greater responsibility for strategy, governance, management, and income generation. It is passing on the baton, handing over the legacy, and opening space for autonomy.

In the spring of 2024, as the countdown begins to the closure of its UK office in 2025, the charity will be launching a virtual Africa challenge to energise everyone with a final fundraising push to help it complete The Mango Tree Girls School and secure the remaining balance for orphans’ fees.

If you would like to find out more about TMT, get involved in fundraising, or donate, please visit the website or speak to one of our team.