Gaudencia became a CAMFED Teacher Mentor in Tabora District, Tanzania, in 2018. Teacher Mentors are government teachers who receive specialized training from CAMFED in key facets of the program, including child protection and psychosocial support. Gaudencia works closely with CAMFED Association members and CAMFED Community Champions to deliver holistic support for her students.
In 2020, the COVID-19 crisis caused unprecedented disruption to education around the world, including the closure of schools and postponement of examinations for students in Tanzania. Gaudencia was already keenly aware of the dangers to vulnerable students in her school, particularly girls, who — without the support structure that school provides — faced increased risk of sexual exploitation, early pregnancy, child marriage, domestic abuse, forced labor, and of permanently dropping out of education.
When schools closed, Gaudencia wasted no time in mapping out contact details (often through a parent or guardian) for the 63 at-risk children under her care. She established regular contact with the families to communicate the importance of safeguarding children and supporting them towards a return to school. Gaudencia started doing all she could to help students to stay on top of the curriculum and retain their academic progress.
Gaudencia's commitment to helping her students learn and thrive extends far outside the walls of her classroom.
“I utilize the available school resources like revision past papers, review test papers and books from the library, and distribute them to students in Forms 3 and 4 to ensure they don’t stay low academically.”
Gaudencia started to visit some of her students at home where it was responsible to do so, reaching more than 10 children with additional support. She was able to bring essential information to rural families, encouraging them to avoid unnecessary gatherings and to continue to practice regular hand washing or sanitizing. Observing that girls were often called upon to shoulder the burden of farm work and household chores, she advocated for them to be given time to study.
“I encourage my students to keep warming up in their studies every day. It is very possible for girls to stay home safely, focus on their studies and eventually achieve their long term goals!”
Prior to the coronavirus crisis, Gaudencia had helped to establish three Parent Support Groups attached to her school. The parents pool their resources to buy school essentials for boys and girls in need of support.
The work of community activists like Gaudencia, her fellow teachers and parents, has been invaluable during school closures, and will continue to be so when schools reopen.