Children’s Centre - Tanzania

Photo of children at Children’s Centre, Tanzania

From the Desk of Fr. John Pfannenstiel, OFM Cap.

Fr. Gaudence noticed a man had been standing at the gate of the Capuchin Children’s Centre since early morning. After Mass, Father decided to find out what the man wanted.

As he approached, he saw tears running down the stranger’s face. When he got closer, Father saw a child who appeared to be eight or nine years old, crumpled on the ground near the man’s feet.

That boy’s name was Shakuru.

Shakuru’s dad couldn’t bear to look directly at Fr. Gaudence. His heart was breaking.

He tried to speak to Fr. Gaudence, but every time he opened his mouth his lips quivered.

Shakuru and his father made the long journey from their home village near Kahama, Tanzania. He saved money for them to take a bus for the 140 mile trip. It was a ride of shame and failure for Shakuru’s father.

He also knew this trip was his only and last hope for his son.

Shakuru’s mother died just a few months after his birth. That is a sorrow all of its own. You see, Shakuru was born with severely deformed legs.

His father was determined to give Shakuru the best care. He asked his mother and sisters to help. They did. But one by one, the sisters married and began their own families. And then, his mother passed away. Now Shakuru’s dad knew he faced an impossible task.

How could he take care of his son and earn enough money to provide food and shelter?

The parish priest of his village told him about the Capuchin Children’s Centre. Perhaps Shakuru could “get new legs” and begin school.

Shakuru’s father loved his son with tenderness and pride, but he could no longer avoid the brutal truth. They needed help, the kind of help that only the Capuchin Children’s Centre could give.

Italian Capuchin missionaries in Tanzania established the Children’s Centre more than 40 years ago. They recruited surgeons from Italy to come three times a year to the Centre to perform corrective surgery for children who have congenital deformities or have been victims of accidents. 

The missionaries from Italy can no longer provide financial support. The surgeons still come regularly every year, but now, Tanzanian Capuchin friars need our help to continue the life-changing work of the Children’s Centre.

Are you able to help the Capuchin friars give hope to children with special needs?

Fr. Gaudence, director of the Centre, comforted Shakuru’s father, assuring him that he was doing the right thing by bringing his son to the Centre. 

Now hope was possible!

Shakuru has undergone three surgeries since arriving at the Centre. With physical therapy and one more surgery, Shakuru will be able to return to his village and be with his father again.

The Capuchin Children’s Centre performs miracles for hundreds of children who would otherwise have lives of begging, illiteracy and loneliness. 

The Capuchin friars work hard to keep the Centre going. They cultivate four very large vegetable gardens, providing fresh produce for the children’s meals. Brother Colman is in charge of 500 chickens and about 25 turkeys. The friars also maintain a “piggery” of 15 to 20 pigs. Then there is a small dairy operation of 20 milk cows.

Tanzania is a very poor country. The government is unable to support the Centre, and there are very few people who can contribute financially. Many are like Shakuru’s father, a day laborer in a mine, bringing in about $12 a week. The average weekly income of Tanzanians is less than $19.

The Capuchin Children’s Centre needs you!

Although Shukuru’s father promised to send money for his son’s surgery and therapy, the Capuchins know he cannot. 

Are you able to help Shukuru and many other children at the Centre?

Today I invite you to join with these brave Italian surgeons and with our Capuchin friars through the Seraphic Mass Association to help Tanzanian children with very special needs for years to come. Children like Shakuru and parents like his devoted and loving father will be forever grateful.

Will you renew your partnership with us? Will you give generously today to help ensure that the Capuchin Children’s Centre remains open? Every gift matters.

With your support the Capuchin Children’s Centre will continue to change the lives of many more children just like it did for Shakuru.

Your gift is a gift of hope.  

On behalf of the children, I thank you for your goodness. God bless you!

I know of your wonderful compassion and faithful generosity in support of Capuchin missionaries through the Seraphic Mass Association. I turn to you once again. I pray the Lord will move your heart to give these children hope for a brighter future through the Capuchin Children’s Centre. These children need the miracles your generosity will provide.

Fr. John Pfannenstiel, OFM Cap.

Father John