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Tanzania, United Republic of: Newsline

The Long Road to Success

CAMA District Representative Tukaeje Habibu, Morogoro Rural District

August 2006 – After Tukaeje Habibu struggled more than six miles to get to school in flimsy flip-flops, it was not unusual for her to be sent home from class because she didn’t have any shoes. Tukaeje had to leave the house at 5am each morning to get to school on time and – when she was allowed to attend classes – she didn’t return home until the evening.

“Life was extremely difficult,” she says. “I was studying at school and on the weekends doing a business, cooking doughnuts to sell in the market just to get money for an exercise book.”

Tukaeje’s father died when she was young and her mother was often ill. She was raised by her grandparents in the Morogoro Rural District of Tanzania and her family struggled to make ends meet.

“My mother was sick and I didn’t have anyone to buy me shoes,” she says.

“Since I’ve started my own business, I’ve really increased my selling capacity.”
After struggling through primary school, Tukaeje was eventually expelled from secondary school because she wasn’t able to pay her fees. A government grant helped her to continue her studies, but when she failed to achieve top grades, her school career was cut short.

Today, Tukaeje uses her own experience in her work as a District Representative for the CAMFED Association (CAMA) – the growing network of 4,700 young women across Zimbabwe, Zambia, Ghana and Tanzania who are acting as mentors and role models to the younger generation. Tukaeje is paid 25,000 Tanzanian Shillings per month (about £10) to teach children who missed out on primary education because of poverty. And through her work with CAMA, she helps to identify children who are in danger of dropping out of school.

“Some of the children in my class are in really poor circumstances,” she says. “One of the students is supposed to be enrolled in primary school, but he can’t afford a uniform. As CAMA members, we want to help children like this.”

CAMA has also trained Tukaeje to work as a peer health educator in her village, helping with children’s vaccinations and giving advice to pregnant women. And to make ends meet, she also runs her own business buying and selling clothes.

“Since I’ve started, I’ve really increased my selling capacity,” she explains, brimming with pride.

Today, Tukaeje dreams of saving up enough money to enrol in teacher training college.

“Education really helped me to be brave,” she says. “CAMFED has really helped me to reach a new understanding and to find a way to achieve my goals...”


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