Some of the girls at the training centre
This project is currently supporting 25 teenage girls in Arusha, Tanzania, many of whom have been involved in the commercial sex trade. The girls are being supported by our local partner, Shalom Centre, through training in vocational skills, business skills, life skills, and reproductive/sexual health education, as well as emotional support.
Read here about the difference this project had made to the life of Mary and other girls.Mary’s father passed away when she was young and when her mother remarried she and her two younger siblings suffered.
“My step father never loved us and has never even bothered to take care of our needs.”
Mary was lucky enough to go through primary school and enrolled in secondary school, however as the fees increased Mary’s mother struggled to pay. Mary was no longer able to attend school regularly, although she did her best and kept studying even when not in school.
“My step father was too harsh and mistreated us. He always made sexual advances to me but I always refused. He told me that if I wanted him to pay for my school fees I had to do what he said. We lived in a single roomed house and it was hard for all of us to sleep in it, therefore when my step father came around, we would have spend the night at our neighbour’s house. This was very disruptive and in 2010 I failed to pass my O Levels. I asked my step father to take me to vocational training centre; he would still insist I sleep with him so that he can pay my school fees.
“I decided to do some small income generating activities like selling cakes to the kiosks in our neighbourhood and at times I would get some part time manual jobs at the factories in town. I came to learn about Shalom Centre through their programme aired at the local radio station and decided to approach them. I am glad that I was enrolled in their programme and I am pursuing a course in teaching, which I am passionate about. I am determined to work hard and succeed so that I can make an impact in our community.”
Shalom collaborates with community leaders in two areas in Arusha, which are highly affected by the sex industry, to identify 25 girls each year either involved or at risk of becoming involved in sex work, for support to develop non-exploitative and viable livelihoods.
This year the trainees divided themselves into four groups, which meet on a regular basis to provide peer support, discuss progress and challenges, and share ideas on income generating activities. The groups are extremely important for providing support – many of the girls had never previously had such a support base where they could confide in others and request advice.
From the girls supported during year one of the project, 10 are now employed, five are self-employed, one is still in secondary school, and eight are searching for employment having completed their field attachments. Shalom Centre will continue to follow-up on their progress. For those girls who are now working, their lives have changed significantly. They no longer have to rely on sex work to meet their living costs; their self-esteem and confidence are visibly improved; and they are generally much happier.
“My life has really changed a lot since I am now busy doing something meaningful with my life, and have as well gained respect with the surrounding community. I now have hope of a better future than ever before."
“You can’t imagine, I was unschooled, came from very poor family and I was engaged in sex trade exploitation for two years and drug abuse, but now see I am a school teacher!"
Thank you for your fantastic support, which has helped us achieve these great results and change the lives of many children. Please keep supporting us in the coming months, when we will also be working with families and communities to prevent girls from becoming exploited in the first place.