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Two years ago I was a high school student studying hard for my final exams. One year ago I trained as a Learner Guide and today I’m using the skills I learned through the program in my own school in Bagamoyo District.

Back when I was a student I never imagined that I could manage a class, guide students through a life skills curriculum and help them grow as individuals. Not only have I discovered that I can do it, but I’ve discovered that I’m actually good at it! As my students are growing in self-awareness, I too am growing in self-confidence.

My students during class. Photo: Eliza Powell/Camfed

Often, when I see my students in class, I see myself, and this brings back memories of my own school days — the challenges, the achievements and the joy of learning. Life in the final year of high school is tough. There is so much pressure to pass your exams, but few opportunities to practice and revise. Many of my students set off before sunrise to walk to school. A distance of three to five kilometers is not unusual and often it’s a dangerous route. In the rainy season the roads are muddy and then, for girls especially, there’s no security. Anything can happen. By the time my students reach school they are exhausted. No wonder they struggle to concentrate in class. Some even question what the point of school is.

Often, when I see my students in class, I see myself, and this brings back memories of my own school days — the challenges, the achievements and the joy of learning.

This is where the My Better World life skills curriculum that I lead students through as a Learner Guide makes a difference. For one, it helps students understand the world in which they live and their role in it. It encourages them to have goals and shows them how to plan to achieve their goals. Because of this they are more self-aware and have a stronger sense of direction. Over this past year I have seen a great change. It makes me happy to have helped my students on their journey.

Three of my students with their My Better World workbook. Photo: Eliza Powell/Camfed

Over this past year I have seen a great change. It makes me happy to have helped my students on their journey.

Outside of class, my partner Learner Guide and I have formed a study circle for our students. We meet regularly to discuss schoolwork, revise and prepare for exams by doing past papers. My students tell me that these study groups help them focus and feel more confident about their work. It makes me so proud when they call me ‘Teacher’, I who could not even imagine myself working in a school. Now I am a role model and a mentor. I am respected in my community and I am so much more confident because of it. I believe in myself. I have goals and ambitions. I have found my path.

Now I am a role model and a mentor. I am respected in my community and I am so much more confident because of it.

Me near the shop I share with my sister. Photo: Eliza Powell/Camfed

Yet, just one year ago, I was at home, without a job and dependent on my parents. That was a difficult time. For months, I wondered what my future would hold. It’s so difficult in my district to find employment. I had no qualifications beyond my high school certificate and no prospect of getting any either. When I heard about the Learner Guide Program I jumped at the chance. As well as getting training to lead students through the My Better World curriculum I received entrepreneurship training. Some months later I had the opportunity to apply for a loan — seed money to set up my own business. I grasped the chance with both hands.

These are the kanga wraps I sell through my fashion business. Photo: Eliza Powell/Camfed

My business is in fashion. I sell clothing, mostly to women from all parts of my district. Most weeks I take a bus to the wholesale market in Dar es Salaam where I buy items that I know there is a market for in my area. Kanga wraps are always in demand, but the number of pieces I sell varies according to the season. During the harvest season my clients have more money to spend and more events to go to. This is good news for my sales figures. This week I sold twenty pieces, but in the low season I’ve had a good week if I sell ten. Even when business is slow, I tell myself that with every sale I am saving towards my future. This makes me more determined than ever to succeed.

Even when business is slow, I tell myself that with every sale I am saving towards my future. This makes me more determined than ever to succeed.

In April, with my savings, I was able to enrol in an IT and English college course. I paid half the fees and my parents paid the other half. I am now saving towards a course in HR at a government civil service training college. First I will enrol on a foundation course, then a certificate course. Soon I will be able to renew my contract as a Learner Guide for another year and a half. I have a long way to go to reach my goals, but I know that I will get there if I keep walking the path I have chosen.

 


 

Photo: Eliza Powell/Camfed

Zuhura was supported to go to school by Camfed, and is a member of Camfed’s pan-African CAMA alumnae network. As a Learner Guide, she supports more vulnerable children to go to school, while gaining invaluable skills to help her build a better future for herself and her community.

 

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