Inspirational Woman: Amy Hathaway | Founder of Forever Angels

Amy-HathawayTell us a bit about yourself

My name is Amy Hathaway and I am a 36 year old Primary School Teacher from Cheshire. For the last 12 years I have lived and worked in Tanzania. Initially I was a teacher at the International School but after seeing the state of orphanages in the country – in 2006 I set up Forever Angels – a care home for orphaned, abandoned and HIV positive babies and infants who have no one else to care for them.

During my time in Tanzania, I adopted five wonderful children and my life now revolves around being Project Manager for Forever Angels and being a Mum to my brood!

I live and breathe Forever Angels and it is with me through every waking moment and in almost every dream! Setting up a charity in Africa is heart-breaking and emotional and hard work – but so rewarding that it is worth it.

What inspired you to set up Forever Angels?

I was in hospital in Tanzania one day visiting a friend who was sick. I went to the linen closet to get a clean sheet for her bed and I came across four emaciated, dying babies. I was told that they had AIDS and were dying…and my heart broke. These babies were not dying from HIV or AIDS – they were dying from starvation and neglect. I could not believe that they were just left there to die? I knew then that I had to do something to help babies like this in the future.

I live and breathe Forever Angels and it is with me through every waking moment and in almost every dream! Setting up a charity in Africa is heart-breaking and emotional and hard work – but so rewarding that it is worth it.

What challenges did you overcome to get the charity mobilised?

My family were all incredibly supportive and helped me to set up a Charity and raise funds to make my dream a reality. Forever Angels opened its doors to the first orphaned babies in August 2006 and since then we have cared for almost 300 babies at the centre and hundreds more in the community.

Mostly we care for babies whose mothers have dies in childbirth. We give them lifesaving formula milk and support their relatives to take them home once they are healthy and weaned. We also care for abandoned babies and infants – most of these are sick, disabled or HIV positive and have no known family. We try to find adoptive families for these children so they can be raised in loving homes.

It is challenging to work with Social Welfare in Tanzania – they do not always follow the same beliefs we do and the best interests of children are not always considered which can be very hard.Amy-Hathaway-1

Challenges occur every day because I soon learnt that you cannot help everyone. Daily I would come across desperate, poverty stricken families who needed help and with no Government assistance or benefits – life is hard for almost all people in Tanzania.

Funding is our on-going challenge – it sounds simple – but the more money we raise – the more babies we can help and the more lives we can save and improve.

As a charity, do you receive any support whatsoever from the government, if not, how do you raise funds?

We do not receive money from the Government and our funding is solely from friends, family and kind individuals who support us. We do fundraising events and have ‘Sponsor a Baby’ schemes to raise money but we always rely on the kindness of people who hear about Forever Angels to support us.

What words of wisdom would you share with our members who are thinking of setting up a charity?

Do it – but be prepared for it to take over your life! My Dad told me that years ago and I thought he was exaggerating – but he wasn’t! I live and breathe Forever Angels and it is with me through every waking moment and in almost every dream! Setting up a charity in Africa is heart-breaking and emotional and hard work – but so rewarding that it is worth it.

It is challenging to work with Social Welfare in Tanzania – they do not always follow the same beliefs we do and the best interests of children are not always considered which can be very hard.

You have recently returned to the UK, who is running the home now and are you still involved.

I spent five years training my two best staff to take over Forever Angels Baby Home. Building an NGO in Africa is all well and good – but the goal is for Tanzanians to run their own charities. My Managers, Lilian and Josephine are doing a wonderful job and thankfully they live and breathe the Baby Home in the same way I do!

I am still very much involved – I spend my days fundraising to ensure Forever Angels can keep supporting needy children in Tanzania – and I return to Tanzania every few months for development and to support Lilian and Josephine in their roles.

It is challenging to work with Social Welfare in Tanzania – they do not always follow the same beliefs we do and the best interests of children are not always considered which can be very hard.

What are your plans for the baby home in 2015?

In recent years we have become an ‘orphanage which does not believe in orphanages!’ and we now spend most of our time helping babies in the community. When relatives are alive and known, we do not need to take the baby into care – we simply need to provide formula milk to prevent starvation and malnutrition. We currently do this for hundreds of babies in our local community and then support their families to set up sustainable businesses so they can support themselves and provide nourishing food now and into the future.

In 2015 we plan to expand this programme by building ‘Milk Centres’ across Tanzania to try to prevent malnutrition and starvation in babies who have no mother…without having to admit the babies into orphanages.

This could become a huge project – helping thousands of at risk babies and preventing malnutrition and death across the whole to Tanzania. But we need a large funder to help us get started with this.

How can others support you and help the charity?

We are in constant need of financial support to keep our life saving work going. People can make one off donations; organise a fundraising or sponsored event or sponsor a baby for a small amount every month.

For more information:

Email: [email protected]

Website: www.foreverangels.org (to access the site the password is Tanzania with a capital T)

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