Esther is a 16 year old girl from the Kilimanjaro region of Tanzania. After she graduated from 7th grade, her mother sent her off to the capital city of Dar es Salaam to work as a house girl.
When Esther’s younger brother Thom found out that Esther had been sent to work instead of back to school, he was not happy. Thom is in 6th grade and knows that his sister needs to keep going to school if she stands any chance of success in life. He convinced his reluctant mother to let Esther come home for Christmas, and during the vacation, Thom worked every angle he could to see if GO Campaign could help Esther go to school.
But then Thom had a new worry. He learned that his village school is not only lacking in good teachers, but many girls end up getting pregnant. Some succumb to flirtation and hormones, but others are victims of rape. The school does nothing to encourage girls to stay in school and not get pregnant. Thom again appealed to GO Campaign to see if Esther could become involved in a local GO-supported program that would put her in a better, safer school.
GO’s local consultant for Tanzania projects spoke to Thom and Esther’s mother, who was not happy that Esther left the house-girl job in Dar es Salaam. Their mother lives in very poor conditions in a mud-home, and even though Esther was only making $13 a month as a house-girl, it was enough to ease her mother’s burden of care with Esther gone from the home. When their mom learned that GO might be able to place Esther into a program where she could continue schooling, the mom asked if they could just get the money instead. Mom wants to buy a piece of land instead of renting, and she’d rather get the land than take care of Esther’s education. This is emblematic of how many families in Tanzania do not value education for girls. Better to buy a piece of property than to educate a daughter. The irony, of course, is that if this mother herself had gotten an education, she would likely already have a plot of land by now, and she would not be struggling like she is. She would then invest in her own daughter’s education, instead of sending her off to what amounts to indentured servitude.
I’m happy to report that, thanks to GO, Esther is enrolled in a vocational boarding school where she plans to study to become an electrician. This is not a common job for a girl in Tanzania and she may have some difficulty finding work as a woman in a man’s world, but who are we to dissuade her? Maybe she will forge new ground for female electricians in Tanzania! Or maybe she will change her mind in a few months and switch to one of the other fields of study offered by the school. The point is, now she has a choice.
And while this article is meant to be all girl-power, let’s just take a moment to give a nod to Thom. He’s a pretty awesome younger brother. We wish every girl in the world had a Thom in their corner.