The Salvation Army Matumani School is a primary boarding school in Tanzania. The school is the largest in the country that serves children with disabilities and albinism. Matumaini means hope and that is exactly what The Salvation Army wants to offer the children trusted to their care. There are currently 201 children attending the school; 80% are disabled and 20% albino. The ages of the children range from 7 to 20 years old. Established in 1969, the school has been a safe place of learning for the most vulnerable populations in the country for nearly 50 years. It is not uncommon to meet professionals and academics with disabilities around town who have attended Matumaini in years past.
In addition to a place for formal education, the children receive Christian formation and teaching. There are after school activities, a dispensary for primary medical assistance, physical therapy and technical staff that fabricate and repair mobility appliances for the children. Most of the children have significant disabilities. Some have missing or deformed limbs and many have stunted growth. In the Tanzanian context, their ability to function in and contribute to society is predicated on their mental and physical capacity. Therefore, educational, spiritual and physical support must be tangible and practical.
The physical therapy center is a place where a qualified therapist provides rehabilitation and muscle development for the physical welfare of the children. Many arrive at the school literally on the backs of their mothers. They have no mobility support or footwear. They come from all around the country and from many very impoverished communities. The physical therapist works with the children to strengthen, loosen and teach muscle movement and coordination. The workshop from which the technicians operate is located on the campus and is combined with a physiotherapy center. The workshop has a dual role. It provides the hardware, repairs and appliances for the children attending Matumaini, and they support a community based program for children with disabilities. This program encourages families and communities to value, support and train their disabled children.