The founder of Streetkids International, Daniel Preuß, is still the driving force of the small, non-profit charity today. In this interview, he recounts his incentives, the purpose of the charity, the work in Tanzania and of problems including corruption.
In 1999 I was working in Tanzania. At a cocktail party in the capital Dar es Salaam, a Tanzanian social worker Consolata Lifa approached me and asked me – in perfect German by the way – if I wanted to do something for their country, which is amongt the poorest in the world. We got to talking, and it wasn’t long before I knew: I want to help the people in this country! At the time I was an IT manager, and the Golden Years of the new economy had allowed me to put aside some money. The very next day, I transferred a sum, which would be able to rent a house, and shortly afterwards the first orphanage could be acquired.
Friends and acquaintances in Germany supported me; on one hand through donations, but also in that they acted as multipliers or were on hand with the know-how to create an internet presence. In 2001 I founded the association of Streetkids International, to be able to give donors tax relief for their commitment. The association is now recognised as non-profit and charitable.
We have been running four of our own orphanages since 2015, in which over 50 children live, who come from families who are no longer in the position to look after the little ones themselves. In addition we have the production and training workshop, where young people are trained to become carpenters or tailors. Since 2014 we have also been running our own little kindergarden with our own staff. It is being further expanded.
That is on one hand individuals who donate 20, 30, 50 or even 100€ a month. They know that almost 100% of their financial help arrives with the children. Streetkids International has an administrative expense of less than 10%, which we cover using money from foundations or appropriated donations.
But companies also get involved: they accept their responsibility to society and take on sponsorships, generously support construction or operation of the orphanages.
The association is partly active in Germany, and partly on location in Tanzania. All general administrative operations are part of the work in Germany, like the personal services and information for sponsors and members of the association, the compiling and sending of the ‚Streetkids Post,’ our newsletter, and accounts and book keeping. In addition, activites in Tanzania are monitored via phone and email. And we are always looking for new sponsors and members!
For food, for medical care and for school and training. For medicines against malaria, inflammation, skin diseases, vitamins for malnourished children, for antibiotics and surgical dressing. For paying the foster families and staff, for house repairs and maintenance of the water systems. For essential purchases like kerosene for lights, oil for cooking and for plenty of water. And also for cars so that we can transport everything.
Corruption is one of the biggest problems in Tanzania and it harms of course the poor especially. Of course, it also hinders our work: budgets for the new build of another orphanage, for the school and further education of the children or for medical care must be constantly re-discussed with the authorities, and procedures continuously re-clarified. Even the official status of the association, its nonprofitability and charitability is constantly debated and has to be re-negotiated, because government employees are trying to swindle money by defining new rules and regulations out of the blue, which ultimately boils down to a bribe. Nevertheless we always try to avoid this for the sake of our children.