Demonstration of Sustainability

Much has been happening at Rainbow Ridge and time to share with lots more new photos in our various galleries.
Before doing so, thank you so much to everyone who attended our amazing event on Friday the 22nd of June at Dexus Place and to all our supporters who were unable to attend but who donated anyway <3. We're truly humbled that together we raised approximately $65k!!! This covers over half our annual running costs. This is truly amazing!

Thank you also to all of our volunteers: LeeAnne Wilson, Marcus, Vincent and Gabby of Clayton Utz, Zoe, Eleni, Dyah, Benne and photographer Lara from Barzura, to the musicians Emanuel Leiberfrund and Afro Moses. A big thank you also to Alexandra Brownlee of Dexus Properties for organising such an ideal venue and to Jamie Toko and her wonderful staff at 1 Farrer, many thanks for your hard work and support.

Please see our pics of the event here


On the Ground at Rainbow Ridge


The Site – Demonstration of Sustainability

Rainbow Ridge is truly blossoming into a sustainable village. Each year the site grows in abundance – the transformation is hard to believe.  See before and after shots in our new spiffy Sustainability – the Land Gallery.


This is largely due to the unique and intelligent swaling/garden bed design and planting implemented by Greg Knibbs and our permaculture team. Impressive! Thank you!!

The land between the swales is more fertile than 4 years ago as the water has not run off the landscape. It has been captured in the soil – creating a slow-moving reservoir beneath the topsoil.

This accounts for the plant/tree growth all over (citrus trees now bearing fruit). Visit the pics in our new Sustainability - the Land Gallery

The Sustainable Practices Education Centre - SPEC

Thanks to Vince Dyck, his volunteer team & our TZ builders/staff, our SPEC is currently 2/3 complete.

Visit the pics in our new Sustainability – the Spec Gallery which showcases our work so far.


While building has slowed in the last month with heavy rains, it is now back on track with completion is expected in 2 months - ready to host our 1st International Permaculture Design Course/Nov 2018 taught by Greg Knibbs for international and local students.
Successful practices can now be demonstrated and proved – and locals can replicate our success.
Thanks to the Keneally Foundation for sharing our vision with this project.
Clayton Hall

After losing our roof in a big storm, we have now replaced it.  The hall is also undergoing renovation which we will showcase on completion.


Thanks Vince and team for initiating repairs and Gus & Leslie Grote and Beth Borowsky and Kamakids Yoga for their kind financial contributions to repairs.
The Kids

Our CA kids continue to grow and thrive. The natural environment at Rainbow Ridge proves its worth. 

While Western kids are bombarded by the latest gadgets & become addicted to their iPads and social media devices, the CA kids play outside in nature, creating games and fun using their own imaginations (like many of us remember as kids). When indoors, who remembers jigsaws, lego, drawing or cooking with Mum?

KiliKids building blocks.jpg

They learn how their environment provides for them – the importance of respecting that which feeds them - eager to learn from our staff - be it sowing seeds, watering, mulching, picking veggies/fruit.  Some of our older ones are often spotted watching and helping with the building works.  See the pics in our Sustainability – the Land Gallery  and Kids and Staff Gallery to see how the CA kids spend their time with fun and chores.

They are blessed to be breathing in healthy air and eating healthy organic food – unlike the unhealthy foods to which many of our kids are regularly exposed. However, we know we can do so much more in this space. 

So What’s New – Experts & You

So with our new SPEC, Aussie expert nutritionists will be joining our international/local permaculture team and local elders to develop seasonal growing and eating plans to get the best out of the environment and into tummies.

We are also working on the introduction of additional extra-curricular activities at the SPEC for CA and the local kids – and have just employed part time English and music teachers. 

OUR AIM: HEALTH & HAPPINESS – mind and body – for all.


If there are any long term volunteers that wish to assist us in developing our program to teach our kids and the local kids English, Music, Art, Dance or Yoga – please contact us – we want you!!!

We have run out of space this news so look forward to sharing some of our new kids and CA Kids’ achievements in our next News.

Thanks for your ongoing support.

The CA Team

We are celebrating our 10th birthday! 🎉

Celebrating 10 Years - Canapés For A Cause

This coming 22nd of June, Communities Assist will be having our annual Canapés For A Cause fundraiser in support for our projects. This year is extra special as we celebrate our 10th birthday!

We would love for your to join us in an evening of gourmet canapés & drinks, live music, auction, raffles and an update on our progress over 10 years.

The function will be held on 22nd of June 2018, 6:30 PM to 9.00pm AEST at Dexus Place, Level 15 Rooftop 1 Farrer Place, Sydney (near Wynyard).

This will be an opportunity to reflect on all that we have achieved together as an NGO since 2008.

Dexus Place is one of Sydney's luxury grade corporate event locations overlooking the CBD. Bring a warm layer so you can enjoy & admire the outdoor view.

Bring your wallets for raffle tickets & auction items!

Dress code: Business Attire / Smart casual

About Communities Assist

Just a little over 10 years ago, CA’s founding members  saw the pressing need to provide a safe haven for homeless children in Tanzania. They set about raising much needed money, and in 2008 selected a small farm at the foothills of Mt Kilimanjaro to operate their facility, now known as Rainbow Ridge.

In 2009 building construction commenced and there are now four homes, acommunity hall (Clayton’s Hall), kitchen facilities, amenities and class rooms for the children and staff, set in an agricultural environment.

It has been an incredible journey, and while there have been many challenges and rewards along the way, due to their perseverance and hard work, so much has been achieved.

Some of the significant highlights are:

1. We employ our own staff including child carers, teachers, nurses, child social workers, administration, agricultural workers, all looking after 34 Orphaned or Vulnerable Children, in a safe and caring environment we call “Rainbow Ridge”.

2. The daily management of Rainbow Ridge is now managed by locals, which simplifies day to day activities and creates a strong sense of ownership and responsibility.

3. We have held NGO status from the beginning and continue to send around 98% of donations directly to Rainbow Ridge due to our voluntary structure with minimal overheads.

4. We initiate and facilitate on-going development of permaculture practices and outputs giving the community a sense of purpose.

5. Our latest improvement is a new Special Purpose Education Centre (SPEC), to be used for training in agricultural techniques and other more general subjects to ensure sustainability and the on-going development of latest practices.

None of this would have been realized without the generous support of our many loyal donors. We would like to share the 10 years of success with you all.

Remember $50 a week supports a child for a full year.

You can check CA's activities on our Facebook page here.

Asante Sana,

John O’Reilly
Managing Director, Communities Assist



Under the Tanzanian Children's Homes Regulation Act (2012), section 3(c) states that   "Placement for a child in a children's home should be temporary rather than a permanent measure and must be used as a last resort".

This is consistent with our mission in recognising family life is invariably the best environment to provide the individual love and attention for children in the long term.  Finding a family home for our kids also opens up an opportunity to provide another orphan or abandoned child with a home as long as they need one.  We work closely with the local social welfare office to provide further opportunities when space becomes available.  

Our experienced childcare managers, Duncan and Neema together with their scouting team are always busy conducting home visits and talking to families, neighbours and village leaders to determine whether we can place any of our kids back with family – their own, relatives and/or community - without any adverse impact.

We are happy to report that this year we have placed five kids back in family environments:

  • Siblings Esther, Johnson and Fatael with Ndekarisho Family
  • Mengilaki Mushi with Chuwa family
  • Lilian Hilary with Chami family

Our team are always conducting follow-ups with the families as we also assist with educational and other needs.  The future health of these families equates to sustainable futures and health for the kids.  These families will be drawn into our sustainable education program once it gets rolling in the local community.

We are happy to report that this year, we have received 3 new kids with the local social welfare office approval.  They are siblings Ally and Lightness Mlacha and Paskalina Mathias.

 Paskalina Mathias.

Paskalina Mathias.

Hello to all of our extended CA family!

I wanted to share with you all my trip to Rainbow Ridge. I wanted to share this with you because I believe Communities Assist has now turned a corner – and with the building of our SPEC in Tanzania this year and funding for our sustainability program over the next 3 years - together with the new branding our marketing sub-committee has been working on – the future is only rosy for CA and the communities it seeks to assist.

The Site – Permaculture/SPEC

When I first arrived at Rainbow Ridge on the morning of 18th of August the first thing I noticed was that the plant growth had really blossomed since I had last visited in January and there was now mulch in every garden with new plants placed in specifically requested areas. The site was spotless with bins located all around the site for rubbish disposal. I was so impressed; first impressions are everything!

 Before shot of Rainbow Ridge

Before shot of Rainbow Ridge

 Rainbow Ridge in all its bountiful beauty today!

Rainbow Ridge in all its bountiful beauty today!

It was so incredible to see small but important improvements such as in areas where plants were previously not growing (i.e. along pathways) the team had planted lemon grass, rosemary etc. – Plants in various places which are consistent with the principles of permaculture provided some particular purpose and input for some other element on the site.  Trees along the swales were really booming – particularly the fruit trees which means that fertility must be great.

The Moringa trees are getting so large and you can now see bean like seeds hanging, this is amazing as these trees are known to be a super food and have a variety of different ways in which you can use their produce. They can be ground into a powder and used on site for medicinal properties and also for soap. Moringa seed pods can be eaten like green beans when still green and the leaves are also great for greens in food (you can see them hanging from the branches below!). 

Top Swale 1 - 2017.jpg

It was so inspiring and rewarding to see that Gretha and team doing are doing such a great job with the development and maintenance of permaculture practice on-site. The focus now needs to be on food production to achieve one of our primary aims; to make Rainbow Ridge sustainable from a food point of view (not including staff wages). 

The NGO/CATZ/The Board

Prior to arriving at Rainbow Ridge, our social welfare officer, Duncan, had warned me of our status and new government requirements for NGO’s with the new president – so I was ready for a busy week. I drafted CATZ’s new constitution and arranged a meeting to appoint new local board members. I felt it was time for the locals to take ownership and control with 8 potential local directors – Mari Pizzinga and I being the 2 foreign directors. The meeting was incredibly positive and dealt with many issues including the NGO’s purpose, vision, mission and objectives as outlined in the Constitution, local community perceptions and local community. Board members were appointed and constitution executed with application for new NGO registration currently undergoing assessment. Success! 


The staff of Rainbow Ridge and CA Kids is now fully local! All our managers speak English and they are all performing excellently and have the staff all operating effectively and happily. They all advised they have everything under control and it was evidenced during my visit. I had a meeting with all the workers on the last day and the cohesion, cooperation, humility and happiness was so impressive.   

 Our beautiful Rainbow Ridge Mama's

Our beautiful Rainbow Ridge Mama's


It has taken us a long time to get a harmonious team working at CA Kids, Rainbow Ridge and it is now an environment which is taking off.

I believe that our message and our objectives are becoming even clearer – they are truly crystallising and everything is falling into place. 

In short, it is my view as discussed at length with one of our new local directors - experienced NGO executive Wilfred Mlay (previously World Vision executive for 20 years in Kenya) that we have the ability - as evidenced by what we have already done – to work with local communities to create sustainable living environments around us. The food that our kids are eating, the air they are breathing and the life they are living in my view is healthier than the lives we live in the west. It is my view that we need only uplift the local community from below the margins so they can feed themselves all year round nutritiously and school their children – without over working – which can deprive them of time with friends and family – and we can show that they are living healthier and happier than us.  

I like – many of us (not all) – have walked to the post-industrial/corporate tune – like an ant among many other ants – working in jobs we don’t like to acquire things we don’t need with insufficient time to enjoy the simple things in life.  Let’s ask ourselves the general question across the board.  Has time with family and friends increased or decreased since we were kids – since our parents’ time? Do kids today have more stuff than we did? Do they need it? Does it assist them? Do they appreciate it?  You need not answer.  It is obvious. Let’s show these people around Rainbow Ridge that there is a better road than that which the we have taken. They need not aspire to have a life like us.  Sustainability and simple objectives (education, good food, home and time with family and friends) – that is the answer to health and happiness – and we can give them that.

You need only see what we have created so far to see what can be done.  Each trip I take increases my belief that we are really onto something here and we will succeed. 

 Thank you all for your continued efforts!