In 2006, the founder of TIAS ARMS, Joanne Baker, took a month-long trip to South Africa with a concerned group of women including three representatives from UNIFEM, the U.N. organization dedicated to the welfare of women and girls all over the world. Joanne’s goal was to ensure that each TIAS ARMS child was receiving the care and loving support promised by carefully screened local groups HOKISA, GECKO, Howick Hospice, and the Ubuntu Education Fund. Joanne’s goal was also to spread the word, through her influential and compassionate traveling companions, about the difference that a relatively small amount of US dollars can have on the quality of a South African child’s life. For example, fifty cents a day provides a highly nutritious, satisfying meal for a child and just $160.00 converted into rand pays the salary of a childcare worker for a whole month.
The group traveled thousands of miles, visiting programs in squatter camps and townships near Cape Town, Howick, Durban, and Port Elizabeth and reviewing new opportunities for effective giving. They laughed and cried and ate and held each child tightly for hours.
Joanne recalled watching a toddler who was “all big belly and sad face the first time I met him” running along the dirt road with his bike. Another little child, Happiness, who has Rickets and Blown syndrome, now goes to preschool and is nourished and loved. Jeffrey, a former glue-addict and street kid, today helps with the other children. Last year, among other programs, TIAS ARMS paid for approximately thirty children to go to school, subsidized meals for sixty five children, and covered the costs of childcare workers and counselors who provide youngsters with hugs and love.
“That is why we are called TIAS (Aunties) ARMS,” Joanne explains.” We want our orphaned children to feel embraced and loved, to believe in life’s possibilities, to know that someone cares. If you’re a donor or volunteer, you made a lonely child happier today. Isn’t that wonderful and amazing? I just want to give more and more. I know everyone on the trip felt the same.”