Before Mary was supported by Camfed, she had been sent home from secondary school because she could not pay the fees. She stayed there for three months, losing hope of ever returning. Mary feared that all her efforts to study hard and be her best had been wasted. Her grandmother, who cared for Mary after she lost both parents, encouraged her not to lose hope.
Months passed, but Mary eventually received a call from her Teacher Mentor, asking her to come back to school. She had seen Mary’s hard work and promise while in class. Mary was skeptical, fearing that she’d just face the same challenges in paying her school fees and would likely be forced to leave school again. But the Teacher Mentor told her to leave that problem to her and just concentrate on studying.
Within a few weeks, Mary’s Teacher Mentor called her to the school office and told her “Your school fee problem is now over. Camfed is going to support you for your education for as long as needed.”
“That was the happiest day of my life!” Mary remembers.
Mary (center) with fellow CAMA members and university students at the University of Dar Es Salaam.
Mary went on to become Head Girl at her school and supporting girls with HIV/AIDS information. She passed her advanced courses and applied for college. Mary is studying to be a teacher because she knows from personal experience that a teacher can help change the lives of children who face similar challenges to those which loomed large during her own growing up years.
“If you educate a girl, you educate a whole community,” Mary says. “Women or girls are more responsible for the development of the community… I will first change things for my family, and then for my community. I have the task now to support other children. When we see children who have problems, one way or another we will be responsible for supporting them. We will tell them the importance of an education.”
In her final year at university, Mary was elected to the student government of the University of Dar es Salaam, serving as Deputy Minister of Information, Communication, Student Union and Foreign Relations. "Leadership comes with a lot of responsibilities. A leader can lead people to see light or darkness," she says.
Mary is very involved in the Camfed alumnae network, CAMA, where she encourages other young girls sponsored by Camfed to work hard to fulfil their dreams. She knows first-hand how Camfed’s support can unlock the potential of girls who are committed to their education.
“My children will not need assistance from Camfed. I will be responsible. From now on, I have something sure in my life. All doors will now be open because of my education!”