May Higher Learning Fund

by Jifundishe
May Higher Learning Fund
May Higher Learning Fund
May Higher Learning Fund
May Higher Learning Fund

Project Report | Oct 31, 2023
From Trouble to Triumph

By Magreth Kimario | Program Director

Naomi volunteering at the Jifundishe Free Library
Naomi volunteering at the Jifundishe Free Library

Naomi, 22 years old

"From trouble to triumph"

Naomi is the last child in a family of seven siblings. Born in a large family that lived in the remote villages of Babati in the Manyara region, Northern part of Tanzania. Life was ‘okay’ but after her second birthdate when she was just beginning to develop speech, life took a rough turn due to her parents’ separation.

Her mother decided to shift to Arusha to start her new life. Because Naomi was still a toddler – she had to come with her mom to Arusha. Life in Arusha wasn't easy for them. They didn't have a place to stay. Naomi was left with a friend of her mother for a few months while her mother looked for their place. She had to do something to survive. She started selling fresh vegetables and fruits as a hawker in the streets of Arusha to take care of her daughter.

In 2008, Naomi turned 7 years old and she started school. Her mother was her biggest pillar in support of her schooling.  Her father never believed in children’s education. But Naomi’s mother was ready to tirelessly do anything to see her children get some education.

In 2014, Naomi completed standard seven on top of her class. She was selected to join a local public secondary school. She was over the moon with joy. She couldn’t wait to see herself in a new school uniform and shoes on her way to Form 1. She had worked so hard for that moment. Only one problem – her mother was not ready financially. With her day job as a vegetable hawker, she couldn’t put aside enough cash in time. She had to take a loan. As much as she hated loans, she had no choice.

In January 2015, Naomi started secondary school. She performed really well in her first year. she couldn’t get used to the frequent gifts from her teachers and free trips to compliment her outstanding academic performance. In 2016, two years after the launch of the Free Education Policy, the government abolished all fees and additional financial requirements for lower secondary education. This was the best news for Naomi and her mother – it was a huge relieve for her and a reason to be entirely optimistic about her daughter’s future.

In 2018, Naomi sat for the form 4 national examination. She passed well and qualified to join the advanced level of secondary education. Students usually join form 5 in May of the following year. So, Naomi had approximately 5 months to prepare herself. She decided to get a job as a house-help in Arusha. During this time, Naomi’s elder brother had come to stay with them – he was very sick and needed help. So, Naomi’s mother shifted her attention to the brother and couldn’t help much with Naomi’s school. And since Naomi really needed to proceed with school, she had to work.

Naomi got selected to join Songea Girls Secondary School located in Southwestern Tanzania to study a combination of science subjects (Physics, Chemistry and Biology). She was confident that her performance would be excellent. After a few months of studies, Naomi started to notice that she was struggling to remember most of what she had studied – she was losing memory. This had also happened to her brother a couple of years back. Naomi became very worried because this situation started to affect her class performance. But she made it a secret. She couldn’t tell her mother – she didn’t want to give her a heart-attack. Naomi was her only hope. Teachers had given Naomi the benefit of the doubt at the beginning but her grades continued plummeting. They tried to find out what was happening to this once-very-good student. Naomi couldn’t tell them – she was certain that they wouldn’t believe her reason.

In 2021, Naomi sat for the final national examination. She scored a division III. This was not anywhere close to what she had envisioned herself getting in the form 6 examination. She couldn’t apply for university with this score. It was a dead-end but she never lost hope.

In mid-2021, Naomi joined the Independent Study program at Jifundishe. She had heard and visited the Jifundishe Free Library a while back while studying. She decided she would give the exam another shot as a private candidate with the hope that her memory wouldn’t let her down this time again. She felt at home while at Jifundishe. In may 2022, she sat for the national examination. Her results were worse than in the previous year – she scored a division IV. It was heartbreaking but she couldn’t afford to give up. Her memory loss inspired her to want to study pharmaceutical science. So, she decided to put aside her form six results and instead use her form four national examination results to apply for a diploma course in pharmaceutical science. She was selected to join Tabora College of Health Science in 2022.

No one in her family tree had reached this far in education. She also had no one from her family who could support her studies in anyway. Tabora College is a private institution and their tuition fee and registration costs are high. She could only manage to pay registration fee. She just wanted in and the rest would some-how sort itself. Naomi’s life at the college was difficult. On top of studying, she also had to figure out what was wrong with her brain and how she’ll pay for the tuition fee. She felt lonely and stumbling in darkness but she couldn’t allow herself to lose hope or quit. She kept telling herself that it would be okay and that she has to be a pharmacist even though she was at the verge of getting kicked out of the college.

In 2023, she applied for the May Higher Learning scholarship at Jifundishe and got selected. Through MHL Scholarship, she could now take care of college tuition fee, accommodation, health insurance, meals and got herself a brand-new laptop. She couldn’t hold back her tears as she described how happy she was to get the MHL Scholarship. She would no longer go to class on an empty stomach or stay up all night worrying about getting kicked out of college.

“I pray that Jifundishe continues to exist to help unlock the dreams of those who have run out of options in life” Naomi says wiping tears of joy.


Naomi at Tabora College
Naomi at Tabora College
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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

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