CAMFED Association member & veterinarian, Tanzania
Mariam, 24, from Handeni District, Tanzania, lost her father when she was only 10 years old, and her mother three years later, just as she was completing primary school. Mariam went to live with her grandmother and aunt. Although she successfully passed her primary school exams and enrolled in secondary school, her family struggled to afford school-going essentials like pens and exercise books.
My biggest challenge was access to school necessities and covering direct school costs.
Her struggle ended when CAMFED stepped in to support her secondary education from 2011 – 2013. After graduation, Mariam joined the CAMFED Association of young women leaders, and was trained to become a Learner Guide, delivering CAMFED’s My Better World life skills and wellbeing curriculum at her local secondary school for 18 months from 2016 – 2018.
Through volunteering as a Learner Guide, Mariam gained access to an interest-free loan, and was able to open a grocery store in order to support her family. Being a Learner Guide motivated Mariam to pursue further education at tertiary level. She dreamed of becoming a veterinarian, and enrolled at Ritha Buhuli college in Handeni.
Mariam tried very hard to support herself through college by running her shop, but did not earn enough money to pay her college fees, so also asked relatives for support. While she finished her certificates, she did not have the resources to go on to complete her diploma at the Veterinary faculty, as the college was unable to provide a grant. CAMFED, thanks to investment through the UK’s Girls’ Education Challenge program, stepped in again to support Mariam’s further studies, so that she could complete her diploma course in Animal Health and Production.
During my Diploma course in Animal Health and Production I was so relaxed and free from worry just knowing that CAMFED backed me up with school fees, practical field costs, and direct costs at school. I felt happy and relieved, I am so thankful for CAMFED’s support.
After finishing her diploma, Mariam volunteered in her ward to treat livestock such as cows, goats, sheep and hens. She helped her community to rear animals and keep them free of disease. Mariam provided consultation support, medical support, and animal vaccinations.
In 2019, Mariam attended further business training provided by CAMFED, learning how to write a business plan, work out profit and loss, and develop a marketing strategy. She was able to access a small grant to expand her business.
As an active CAMFED Association member, including in the role of Assistant Chairperson, Mariam also helped train other members, as well as students, in business and financial literacy. In March 2019, she delivered financial literacy training at her local secondary school, where she reached 40 students.
In addition, Mariam volunteered at the CAMFED District office as an intern to gain more knowledge, skills and exposure to the work supporting girls to access school.
In May 2019, Mariam secured a job working in a Veterinary Pharmacy at Ngerengere ward in Morogoro rural district. She is passionate about her work as a veterinarian keeping animals healthy, as well as supporting young girls in her community to achieve their education and their life goals.
Mariam wishes to see big changes in her community. She wants to see girls prioritize their education, particularly in science subjects, and be bold enough to live their dreams. She wants to see a generation that is free from HIV infection and grows up safely to support their families.