“There is a time to laugh and a time to be serious,” says Selina as she reflects on her life as a secondary school student. In January 2015, Selina experienced first-hand the challenge faced by many young girls in rural Tanzania: poverty.
In the fall of 2014, Selina attended TEMBO’s Primary and Secondary Success (PASS) program where she studied English, Math and sciences in preparation for secondary school. But when she returned home, her parents told her that they had no money to purchase a uniform or pack the necessary supplies for school. Selina admits that she was angry when she saw others go to school. “I cried so hard,” she says. For one year, she stayed home helping her family on the farm. “My mother and father are both farmers, and my mother was sick and could not work. I helped my family, but I was always thinking about how I could go to school. I pleaded with my brother to help, but he told me not to talk about that because there was no money.”
For one year, she continued to think, never giving up. In early 2016, she approached a local teacher in her village. He suggested she write a letter to TEMBO. Waiting for a reply was very hard for Selina: “What can I do? What can I do?”, she thought. Finally, she heard from the Director of TEMBO (Tanzania) that she had been selected for sponsorship. Selina smiles and says, “My heart was so happy”.
Today, Selina is in Form 4 at Engarinaibor Secondary School just weeks away from writing the Tanzanian National Exams. If successful, she will have the opportunity to continue her studies at the advanced level.
Selina can still recall arriving at school: “When I put on my uniform, I thought I was so big, but when I got to school, there were so many people bigger than me. I was so much shorter than others.” Selina’s small frame has never deterred her from her dream: she is a determined and focused student who keeps her head down and her goal foremost in her mind. Selina hopes to be a doctor someday and with her love of sciences, she believes she can make it. She knows that she must focus on studying for the exams. “My family cannot afford to bring me home during the school break, so I stay here at TEMBO. I like the hostel. I feel like I am at home and I am with my friends. It is a good place to study and a good place to sleep.”
When asked about challenges at school, she laughs and replies without hesitating, “A thief! Someone stole my underwear and soap. You have to be very careful and keep an eye on your soap while you shower.” Today, she is happy that she still has the 3 pairs of underwear she started with at the beginning of the year!