Support This Unique Free Library in Rural Tanzania

by Jifundishe
Support This Unique Free Library in Rural Tanzania
Support This Unique Free Library in Rural Tanzania
Support This Unique Free Library in Rural Tanzania
Support This Unique Free Library in Rural Tanzania
Support This Unique Free Library in Rural Tanzania
Support This Unique Free Library in Rural Tanzania
Support This Unique Free Library in Rural Tanzania
Support This Unique Free Library in Rural Tanzania
Support This Unique Free Library in Rural Tanzania
Support This Unique Free Library in Rural Tanzania
Support This Unique Free Library in Rural Tanzania
Support This Unique Free Library in Rural Tanzania
Support This Unique Free Library in Rural Tanzania
Support This Unique Free Library in Rural Tanzania
Edina, studying at the Jifundishe Free Library
Edina, studying at the Jifundishe Free Library

Edina, 24 Years old.

“My life is like a light covered in dark clouds”.

I want to believe that I was the only child to my father – a father that I never met or heard from in my entire life. To my mother, certainly not the only child – there were more of us, but I can barely tell you where they are or who they are. My mom passed away when I was 10 years old, but she had given me away when I was only 12 months old. I can’t say I truly know her either. My grandmother (from my father’s side) was technically my mom and dad. We lived in Ukerewe – a remote island in Lake Victoria, Tanzania. I was not her only grandchild and definitely not her favorite. There was always a ‘tag-of-war’ in everything – food, clothes, bed, even the right to speak your opinion. But all I cared about was going to school. From a very young age, I knew education was my only way out, my get-out-of-jail card. Do not get me wrong, my grandma’s house was the only home I had (actually the only home I knew I had) – and despite everything I went through, I will always be in her debt because she managed to put me through primary school and lower secondary school. The year 2013 was the last time I saw the inside of a classroom; for some unknown reason, my grandmother pulled me out of school a few months before I could sit for the form two national assessment. 

Before I could figure out my life, I was sent miles away to Bukoba to go stay with my other grandmother (from my mother’s side). I didn’t even know she existed. Somehow, both of my grandmothers had planned to put me in a vocational training center in Bukoba to take a tailoring course. They had no time to at least pretend to ask me what I wanted. But again I was thankful – it was better than breaking my back with house chores from dawn to dusk since I was the only grandchild out of school. Life with my new grandmother didn’t go the way I had imagined. Months turned into a year and a half as a house-help in my grandmother’s house and my uncle’s houses too. I was doing a lot of walking and working with no hope of ever going back to school. Nobody seemed to care. In late 2014, my grandmother attached me with a village tailor to observe. Before I finished 2 months of ‘observation’, my uncles started to talk about my marriage arrangements, and at the same time, my grandmother told me that her friend who lives in Dar es Salaam was urgently looking for a house-help. I was 16 years old and had to blindly make a quick choice – get married to someone I don’t know or go to work for someone I don’t know in a place I have never been. I chose the latter. 

In April 2015, I officially started working as a house helper for a measly salary. At least I thought that was the arrangement - to work and get paid whatever salary they could. I was excited because, with enough savings, I could go back to school; I still wanted to study. It didn’t take me long to realize that I had escaped being someone’s wife in my village only to run towards the most inhumane employer in the name of a guardian. I have no words for what I went through in that family, but I had no choice but to stay some more while I plan my next move. 

By late 2017, my hope to go back to school was fading away. I had no savings, I couldn’t go back to my grandmother’s village and the family I worked for didn’t need my services anymore. I was about to be thrown out in the streets of Dar es Salaam. Luckily, a colleague of my ‘employer’ was looking for a maid. What a coincidence! I didn’t hesitate to take the offer, I wanted out.

By 2018, I was in Tanga Region working for a new family. It was the best thing that had ever happened in my life. They were the nicest people I have ever met. For the first time, I felt like I belonged in a family. I felt valued – it was a new thing for me and it felt comforting. In December 2018, my boss was transferred to work in Moshi and she took me with her. 

One Sunday while at church, during the news section: someone stood and talked about a project called Jifundishe found in Arusha. I got very interested in the Independent Study Program run by Jifundishe – at the back of my head I thought to myself, “I have finally found a ticket to complete secondary school education and maybe go to college, who knows!” I took contact information and immediately informed my boss about Jifundishe’s I.S program. She was in favor and promised to support me follow my dream. 

Mid-2019, I went to Arusha and moved in with a church friend. Registrations for the Independent Study program were already closed but I was allowed to enter into class but won’t be able to take the national exam at the end of that year. I was finally back in a classroom. That was all that mattered at that point - it was the biggest most important achievement for me and at that moment I felt unstoppable. Studying at Jifundishe is free but students have to look for accommodation and food, so I had to look for a job to survive. After a year of struggling, I applied for the I.S program for the first time in early 2020 and got in. I was among 160+ students selected to join the I.S program that year. Even though I still had to continue to juggle work and classes but I never stopped smiling every time I remembered that Edina is now a registered private candidate and in the next 3 years I will be on my way to college or university. My dream was starting to take shape. That year ended well and I passed my form two national assessment, which felt awesome.

The following year (2021) I unfortunately missed the registration for the I.S program. I had no money and had to spend most of my time working for my church as a hawker selling religious books. I had to do something to support myself because everything was on me. I couldn’t call my grandmothers or uncles for help – last time I checked, they insisted I MUST go back to Mwanza and move in with ‘my husband’ because apparently, they had already accepted dowry from an old village man. I cannot be a mother now – come rain come sunshine. By 2022, I had stashed some savings, and I applied for the I.S program again to take the Certificate of Secondary Education Examination (CSEE). Mid-2022, things got tough financially for me; I could go for days without real food and couldn’t pay rent for almost 7 months in a row. I had no choice but to go back to church camps to sell religious books in Dar es Salaam. I missed classes, student group discussions, and a very cool workshop that is usually facilitated by the UP Group (volunteers from the United States). I had to make a hard choice to skip the final exam for that year – it was sad but necessary. I didn’t want to fail that exam because of a lack of preparation.

This year (2023) I have registered again to take the CSEE at Jifundishe. I cleared all my accommodation debts for the previous year and have managed to pay 8 months of rent for this year. I also decided to make a couple of entrepreneurial decisions just to keep an extra coin coming – I looked for a roommate who gives me Tsh 7500 (a little over $2) a month. It helps with buying food and I also started to sell roasted groundnuts in my free time. With this plan, I think I’ll spend more time at Jifundishe studying for my Form 4 national examinations.

Jifundishe is like a haven for me, a place that will groom me to be the best version of myself – a home for my dream to come true. When I get another chance, I’ll tell you what I want to study when I get to university – for now, I just want to learn and study everything I can. My life is like a light covered in dark clouds, but one day yes. I will go back to my village and my light will inspire other girls to be more than domestic servants or more than 16 years old wives. 

Thanks to every single donor and friend of the Jifundishe Organization.



Group discussion outside Jifundishe Free Library
Group discussion outside Jifundishe Free Library
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Daniel N, 20 years old.

- He has the mind of a visionary -

Daniel was born and raised in a very remote village in Babati. He is the 2nd child in a family of 8 siblings. Growing up in a village that offered not much exposure to the outside world – he developed a dream to become a doctor one day. After 7 years of trekking more than 4 km every day to school, he finally sat for the primary school national examination in 2017 and was selected to join a nearby public secondary school. His excitement to go study science in secondary school was shattered when his father denied him the right to continue with school. Instead, Daniel was sent to Arusha to work as a caretaker of household gardens and cattle. His father made sure that no one asked questions about Daniel's schooling.

With a sunken heart and lost hope, Daniel, at the age of 15 years started a new life of taking care of his parents and his brothers and sisters. He was expected to send money every month to his parents. After 4 years of working for a meager wage, a good friend of Daniel introduced him to the Independent Study program at Jifundishe. It was the best news ever for Daniel. He immediately decided to enroll in the program as a QT (Form 1 and 2) student in 2021. It was like a candle in the darkness that stirred back his dream which was frozen for years. Daniel committed to coming to class every day at 9 am after working as a caretaker in the morning. He was able to sit for the form two national assessment and qualified to be enrolled as a PC (form 3 and 4) student in 2022.

Daniel did not forget his parents and siblings; he kept going back to Babati to see them. Little did we know that during all these visits, Daniel was trying to convince his elder brother (a standard 4 drop-out) and his younger sister who is now 19 years to come join the I.S program. Because apparently, Daniel was the only one in his family who had made it to secondary school education. In October 2022, Daniel brought his younger sister (the 4th born) who had just completed standard 7 in Babati to come and join the 12weeks Primary School English Tuition program at Jifundishe. He was worried that she might end up like his other sister (3rd born) who completed standard 7 and was forced to go to work as a house-help in another Region. Fortunately, Daniel's sister (Rebecca) who had joined the Primary school English Tuition program was also identified as a suitable candidate for the Houston Scholarship Fund (HSF) at Jifundishe. The HSF provides full scholarships to girls who have just completed standard 7 in a public primary school and come from families that would not otherwise be able to take them to secondary school. Rebecca is now happily going to school in a public secondary school nearby her home in Babati – kudos to her brother Daniel for introducing her to Jifundishe. Rebecca wants to be a fashion designer.

This year (2023), Daniel doesn't feel he is ready to move on to the advanced level of secondary school (form 5 and 6). So, he has decided to do another year at the PC level and take the form 4 National Examination again. He wants to go into medicine as a strong science student and he strongly believes that nothing can stop him from pursuing his dream this time. He will continue to juggle his time between work as a caretaker, school at the I.S program, and counseling his younger sister and brother to consider joining the I.S Program – he doesn't want to give up on them, because his goal is to rewrite his family's narrative from a poor family that has no one with secondary school education to a family of intellectuals who will bring positive change in their family and community in general. This boy has the mind of a visionary and it's because of committed and passionate people like you who take their time to make other people's lives beautiful and full of hope.

Thanks to GlobalGiving and all stakeholders for supporting the work at Jifundishe.

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Giftiana, 20 years old 

 Giftiana was born with a dream to be her own boss one day, to create something of her own. Being the 2nd born in a low-income family of 4 siblings, she has watched both her parents struggle with their own small-scale business ventures just to put food on the table.

 Her community in Maruvango village Arumeru District didn’t and still doesn’t have much to offer for a girl that is creative and passionate about her dreams. After primary school, she was selected to join a ward secondary school then later transferred to a boarding school in a nearby district. 

 Her determination to work harder towards her dream of being a fashion designer in a big city increased because she didn’t have to worry about walking home miles away from school as before. Despite having supportive parents, Giftiana’s journey at school was not as smooth as she had hoped. Half the time she couldn’t be at school because her parents had not paid the required contributions. Out of desperation while at home she would either spend time with local tailors watching their work for inspiration or hang out with her village friends.

 Then before she was able to go back to school, her dream pathway was shuttered - she got pregnant. She lost all hope but her parents gave her the strength to keep looking forward. She now has a baby girl.

 Through neighbors and friends, she was introduced to Jifundishe Organization and was selected to receive a scholarship to take a 12months tailoring course. Her mother volunteered to stay with her baby girl while Giftiana goes to a nearby boarding vocational training center. Now she is ready to do anything for her dream and her baby.

She is happy to be back on track towards her dream. Her goal is to start her own fashion shop in a big city where she will put all her imaginations and hard work to inspire the women fashion industry. My guess, is that she’ll call her shop ‘Gracious Designs’; because that’s the name she gave her daughter.

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Witness, 22 years

 “Seven years ago, my future was vague”

 Witness is the 4th born in a family of 6 siblings. She has spent most of her life in the custody of her uncle because her father wasn’t and still isn’t in her life since she was a little girl. Her mother couldn’t take care of 6 children on her own either. Despite the fact that Witness aced in all subjects at a local primary school that she joined in Ngordoto Village, Arusha Tanzania; life was tough and her dream pathway was murky. Growing up in a house with 10 children; sharing a plate of merger food and beddings was not the life Witness had hoped for when she started staying with her uncle.

After days of long-distance walking to and from school, she sat for her standard 7 primary school national exam in 2015 and passed with Grade B. She was selected to join a local secondary school. You would expect any child to be happy with this kind of results – but Witness was in a state of ambivalence because she was never sure if she would receive any support from family to join secondary school education.

 Her primary school headmaster introduced her to the Houston Scholarship Fund at Jifundishe Organization. She immediately applied and got selected. Because of the potential Jifundishe saw in Witness, she was sent to SEGA Girls’ Secondary School in 2016. SEGA is a girls secondary boarding school with extensive extracurricular activities - located in Morogoro Region (Eastern part of Tanzania). At SEGA, Witness did very well in science subjects and mathematics. She also learned incredible computer skills and got involved in the school’s entrepreneurship program. Through this program, she learned entrepreneurship and hospitality skills through theoretical and practical lessons, worked in the school’s poultry project and took sewing lesson after class hours. She also participated in an intensive 2-week training in business planning and technical skills training in sewing, dying batic fabric, soap-making and baking/decorating cakes. In December 2017, Witness travelled to Nairobi, Kenya to represent SEGA at a 1-week annual East African Girls’ Leadership Summit. She was selected because of her drive to be a leader, her excellent behavior, academic performance and because she is a positive role model for others.

 In 2019, Witness graduated at SEGA after her Form 4 National Examination which she passed with a strong Division I of 11points. She had applied for a scholarship with the United African Foundation Organization and was among the 12 girls selected out of 30 applicants. Witness joined Tabora Girls Secondary School for advanced level education majoring in one of the toughest science combinations - PCM (Physics, Chemistry and Mathematics)

 Witness is currently volunteering at Jifundishe Free Library while waiting for her Form 6 national examination results to apply for University. She wants to pursue software engineering. With her excellent background in science and mathematics, she spends her time at the Jifundishe Library assisting students in the Independent Study program with subject matters and tips on how to study and tackle exam questions.

 Witness says, “Seven years ago, my future was vague. But all the experiences in the past 6 years at SEGA, Tabora Girls and at Jifundishe; I feel more confident as a girl, more informed and self-aware and most importantly, my dream and carrier pathway is crystal clear. Nothing can stop me”. “Thanks to Jifundishe Organization for picking me up after I completed my primary education and lightening my financial burden which helped me focus more on studies and personal development. I am inspired to want to help others and give back to my community”

On behalf of Witness's family, Jifundishe is grateful to all donors that make it possible for girls like Witness to realize their potential through the Houston Scholarship Fund.

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It’s a new year and our programs just started. We successfully managed to recruit new students in our Independent Study program for 2022. They all went through an orientation course in February and started classes. This year came with a lot of new beneficiaries and each and every one has a unique story to tell on how they are delighted to have an opportunity to achieve their educational goals.

Meet Anna, she is 18 years old. She is the second born child in a family of three siblings. She lives with her mother in Kikwe and depends on her for everything. Anna went to Patandi Primary School which is far from home so she had to live with her Aunt. Her mother sent her away from due to family misunderstanding between her mother and drunkard father. She graduated primary education in 2017, where she was selected to join Akheri secondary school. She was only able to study for two years and In the middle of her exams she found out that she was pregnant. She managed to finish all her exams without being expelled.

 The results came out and Anna performed really well but due to her pregnancy she was not allowed to return to school. She gave birth to a baby boy. With an additional family member, her mothers income couldn’t meet all their needs. Anna had to look for a job to take care of her baby and her family. She worked in a small restaurant which allowed her to bring her baby. It was really challenging for her and her family.

Luckily Anna heard about the Jifundishe Free Library and the Independent Study program that is anchored there. She asked to join the program with the support of her step sister who really wishes her to complete her education journey. With the support of Jifundishe, Anna enrolled to the Qualifying Test program to start her secondary school education as a private candidate where she will be able to re-do her national examinations and transition to another level until University. She is grateful for Jifundishe and the support it is providing to ensure her success. She wants to be a soldier to serve her community and her family.

Anna is determined, focused and working hard to accomplish her education goals.   

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Organization Information


Location: Usa River - Tanzania, United Republic of
Project Leader:
Anande Mirisho
Managing Director
Usa River , Tanzania, United Republic of
$43,640 raised of $50,000 goal
443 donations
$6,360 to go
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