Bernadeta with her Father
Dear Girls Ed Supporters,
For our first report on our new campaign to fund post-secondary education for the young women who were accepted into high schools or vocational programs, we'd like to share the story of Bernadeta.
Lucas is the Tanzanian project manager of Project Wezesha and Girls Education International. He conducted and recorded the following conversation with Girls Education International participant Bernadeta. Then he transcribed and translated the interview from Swahili and English. To improve readability for native English speakers, it was edited by Kate, former Project Wezesha volunteer and current Girls Education International board member.
This month I visited Bernadeta’s home to see how she is doing now. When I arrived to her home, she was not at home. I asked her younger brother who was home (where she was). He told me that Bernadetaa went to the farm with their parents. I requested for him to take me to the farm. He agreed. We walked for one hour from home to their farm. The following I saw, I confirmed, and I asked also to record it. -Lucas*
In Bernadeta's words:
My name is Bernadeta. I am a young girl. I am 18 years old. I was born on March 6, 2001. My father and my mother had 12 children. Five passed away; two because of malaria and three because of maupele (worms) because there was no money to take them to treatment. Seven children remain alive. I am the 9th child, and I am the only one who attends secondary school in my family with 12 children.
I started primary school without shoes. I got shoes when I was in standard six. One of my classmates, and she was my best friend, got shoes from one man. After a short time, she got pregnant and she stopped school. I asked my father and my mother why her parents did not take him to the police. My parents did not answer me. When we entered standard seven, two girls from my neighborhood, who were younger than I, got pregnant and the men who got them pregnant are still in the village. No one helped them (the girls) or took care of the girls.
I cried all day. I asked my father. My father told me that not only that girl and the neighbors, but there are so many girls who got pregnant: more than 12 in this village. I asked my father, “Any punishment?” He respond to me that they are afraid of the conflict. I told my father that if I pass my primary examination, I will study the subject which would allow me to fight against bad men and bad boys to (help) woman and girls.
After a short time, my results came out. I saw my father was angry. I asked my mother. She told me, “He is angry because you passed the examination.” For me, I was very happy to pass. I was happy while father was angry. Why? Because there was no money. I was very happy because of my plan to help the girls and woman who get pregnant in this village. No punishment is still in my head.
My father started to crack palm seeds and sell it so that he could pay for the uniform, shoes, fees, books, and pen when I started secondary school in Mkongoro Secondary School. I studied hard when I entered Form II. I got the biggest chance when I was chosen to be a one of students for Girls Education International through Project Wezesha. From that day, I saw my light: for me to be a lawyer.
I attended all of the study camps and I got more experience until I finished secondary school last year in 2018. I passed the exam to join high school but the government school did not choose me because of the lack of the number of high schools. My life at home: I go to the farm with my father and my mother. I go to help the activities at the farm every day.
Brother Lucas who is the manager for Girls Education International and Project Wezesha here Tanzania is visiting me today at the farm. He came with my younger brother. I got into a good school which they are willing to allow me to join for high school. It is a private school, so I can meet my dream. High school here only takes two years.
So, anyone, please help me.
Bernadeta is from Mkongoro Village. She needs USD 740 per year which will be cover everything: School fee, books, uniform, shoes, and all materials in school.* I talked with her almost one hour at the farm after taking a picture with her parents.
*The fact that Bernadeta was accepted into high school is a testament to her determination and potential. Of note is that government high schools in Tanzania are more competitive and prestigious than private high schools. Thus, her plea for help to attend a private school is not what some may assume. She is not asking for a luxurious experience. Her performance on seconday school exit exams only qualified her for private high school where she will receive the support she needs to succeed. Her humble request of $740 USD would cover all school fees, books, uniforms, shoes, school supplies, and room and board for an entire school year. As high school in Tanzania is only two years, $1,580 would pay for her entire high school education. Please consider donating to support her education. Empowering her has the potential to improve the lives of many girls and women in her village.
Please let us know if you would like to sponsor Bernadeta for one or both of her high school years. Otherwise, please consider chipping in to this campaign so we can do our best to fund her request and help her reach her goals!
The Girls Ed Team
Bernadeta farming with her parents