However, Valenova Foundation (VF) can be traced as far back in 2004 when the Founder Sebard Pius Mteteleka started having a friendship with a Canadian woman called Robin Dines. In 2005 Sebard Pius Mteteleka started to be supported by Robin Dines in some costs in University studies for three years and in 2009 Sebard Pius Mteteleka after completing his studies and awarded a Bachelor Degree of Public Administration with his wife Esther, Robin Dines did not want the friendship to end. Thus she introduced the idea of establishing a Charity for the purpose of helping people in problems at Ifakara. Robin Dines and her friend Debbie McCoy were the first people to donate their money in opening Bank account and other costs for writing Valenova Foundation Constitution while Mama Margaret and Baba Eugene Schellenberg of Ifakara Bakery Project from Birmingham, UK were the first friends of Valenova Foundation from UK to donate for the first projects at our Charity. The idea of establishing a Charity given by a Canadian Woman called Robin Dines could not be refused since Sebard Pius Mteteleka had the same idea and so the work of writing the constitution of the NGO started and on 11th March 2011 Valenova Foundation was fully registered to operate in Mainland Tanzania and given this number No: 00NGO/00004404.
Ifakara is a small rural town in Kilombero District, Morogoro region, south central Tanzania. It is the headquarters of the Kilombero District Administration and the main trading centre for Kilombero and Ulanga districts. The town is located near the Tanzania-Zambia Railways (TAZARA) line at the edge of the Kilombero valley, a vast swampland flooded by the mighty Kilombero River. The majority of the inhabitants of lfakara are subsistence farmers and engage in small business. They cultivate rice, maize, cassava, bananas, coconuts and they grow fruits such as mangoes and oranges. Gardening is also a vital activity for the people of Ifakara which is conducted at Ndumbuli and Kilama where they grow vegetables such as spinach, cabbages, tomatoes and onions. The staples food includes rice and maize. Fishing is also a very important activity in Ifakara due to the presence of river Kilombero as it is a permanent river throughout the year. On the side of International relationship, Ifakara has been a home for Swiss people for a century, and that is why the Catholics at Ifakara on 08th August 2011 celebrated the Jubilee of 100 years of Christianity. It is known that the Franciscan Capuchin Missionary from Switzerland replaced the German Benedictine Missionaries in 1922 who had to leave the country following the defeat of Germany in the First World War. Not only the Swiss people make Ifakara their home, but also other nations have a good contribution to the history of Ifakara, including Great Britain, Germany, America and many other countries, so Ifakara is a home for many citizens in the world. In Ifakara there are three major Institutions of the Tanzanian Health sector which are the Ifakara Health Institute (IHI), St. Francis Referral Hospital, and the Tanzania Training Centre for International Health, Ifakara (TTCIH).
Etymologically, the name Ifakara is composed of two Ndamba words: ufa and kara which mean “land is destructed” or “land is totally dead”. It was named during the invasions by Lipangalala’s group in 1860s when the Ndamba were in great fear and were driven out of the Kilombero River (Larson 1976). While on the way back home they were informing their fellows they met on the way to the valley that things had fallen apart because of the invasions. Later, during the colonial period Europeans couldn’t pronounce it correctly hence “Ifakara” instead of “ufakara”.
Ifakara is the home of talented and many sports. The sports game which is very famous in Ifakara is football where there are famous football teams which participate in different leagues and tournament in and out of Ifakara. Famous football clubs are Shupavu FC,Mlabani rangers, Techfort academy,kilombero soccernet, the wailers, kibaoni boys and other.
Historically, Ifakara has passed through different administrative districts. While from 1899 to 1917 it was part of Mahenge militarbezirk, between 1917 and 1936 it was under Mahenge District (Larson 1976). From 1936 to independence (1961), Ifakara became part of Ulanga District. Today (2008), Ifakara is part of Kilombero District, Morogoro Region. It is both the division and district headquarters. The population is heterogeneous. The indigenous people are largely the Ndamba, Mbunga and Pogolo tribes and the population today constitutes also the descendants of Lipangalala, Ndwangira and Mfalikuivahaa, who as leaders from Zululand and Southern Africa arriving in Ifakara and the region as of the late 1860s (Larson 1976:14). Other ethnic groups include Hehe, Sukuma, Bena, Gogo, Ruguru, Kyurya, Pare, and Chagga. In terms of religion, Christians outnumber Moslems and pagans because of early settlements of missionaries in the area. A year after the British mandate was pronounced by the League of Nations in 1920s, the Capuchin Mission started work in Ifakara. The Swiss missionary work emerged in a context of acute social and political change. The missionary range of services offered was not only spiritual and pedagogical, but also medical. Christian missions had a reputation as conveyors of European medical science. Sr. Arnolda Kury, from the Franciscan Baldegg congregation of the “Schwestern von der Göttlichen Vorsehung"Baldegger_Schwestern (de) built a small dispensary in 1927. This facility developed over the years and grew considerably when the St. Annaheim maternity hospital was added in 1944. In 1953 Dr Karl Schöpf designed and built a modern and new hospital, now called St. Francis Hospital, with support from Sr. Arnolda, the powerful parish priest and not least the Capuchin Bishop of the Archdiocese of Dar es Salaam. Today the mission hospitals have become ‘health projects’ executing‘ health programmes’ which are ‘sold’ on the secular and spiritual, as well as private and public, market created by donors in Switzerland and elsewhere.
Fishing has always been the main economic activity of the people living along the Kilombero River. The river provides different fish species including prawns, sardines, ndipi, mbewe, kitoga, tilapia, mjongwa, catfish, sulusulu, bulu,juju, ngunga, ngufu, ngundu, nguyu, ningu and mbala. The Ndamba are distinguished from the Pogoro of Mahenge highlands and its lowland peripheries by their riverine economy and technology. The technological superiority of the Ndamba lies in their control of canoe transport and grasp of riverine lore, which enables them to slip into vast and complicated waterways and survive there for lengthy periods. For a long time, Larson (1976) notes, the Ndamba gained access to the fertile alluvial fans only during the dryseason. Other subsistence activities include hunting and cultivation. Today, people also farm. While rice is the main food stuff, sugarcane, maize, millet and wheat are essentially grown for food and trade.
Ifakara largely occupies the central position on the fertile alluvial fan of Kilombero valley land. It is an authentic savannah grassland with natural grass fields that are green during the rainy season and brown in the dry season. Some exceptions are the beautiful evergreen banks of the Kilombero River and cultivated lands. Daytime temperature in the region ranges from 32 degrees Celsius in June and 39 degrees Celsius in December. Night temperatures are only 2-4 degrees lower than daytime temperature.
Valenova Foundation upon its establishment, there are kind people who really wanted the Charity to start working for the people in need and surely without their presence, it could be impossible to brag ourselves for all the good and remarkable differences that we have made to the people, and this has made us to regard them as our parents and great advisors.
Margaret and Eugene Schellenberg of Ifakara Bakery Project from Birmingham, UK are really the parents of Valenova Foundation, they have supported many projects at our Charity and they are the first donors to support projects of Valenova Foundation. They have been always helpful to our works of making the difference to the lives of the people in need at Lihami Village. They are always remembered by the Lihami villagers and the Valenova Foundation members.
He is also regarded as Valenova’s parent founded Bear Valley Ventures (www.bearvalleyventures.com) in 2007 to create and run initiatives aimed at improving health and quality of life for people in developing countries. Walter Gibson is a great friend of Founder of Valenova Foundation Mr.Sebard Pius Mteteleka due to great friendship among them that rendered to be easy for Walter to recommend the Charities that supported Valenova Foundation in the beginning of its mission that could make the real picture of the Charity.
Robin Dines is the mother of Valenova Foundation she is the one who first introduced the idea of having the Charity to help the people in Ifakara and she is the one who gave the name of our Charity which is Valenova Foundation. Robin with her friend Debbie are the first people to donate the money in establishing the Charity, they are playing a great role at our works.
Otto Matern Muba is a senior Tanzania Consultant at Valenova Foundation from the start of this great journey of serving the Community. He has been playing a great role in writing some project proposals for the Charity and many became successful.