Building A New Tradition In Lushoto, One Girl At A Time, Tanzania
Traditionally, girls born into the households of the uphill Lushoto district communities have been expected to learn nothing more than keeping house. With no marketable skills, education, or economic influence they were excluded from many family decisions and viable participation in the larger community.
Asante Africa, through its Wezesha Vijana Program, is upending that tradition. Since early 2018, the Wezesha Vijana Program has offered adolescent girls a curriculum and training that fosters personal health and economic well-being. With these resources, they are empowered to make healthier choices for themselves, their families, and their communities. With the Wezesha Vijana Program, Asante Africa has been empowering young girls across Lushoto communities, offering them the promise that they can be more than housekeepers. And this sense of promise has been bringing smiles to girls’ faces in households throughout Lushoto.
Take Hadija, for example. Hadija is a primary school student who, despite her young age, initiated a business that has been a huge financial boost to her family. With the knowledge and skills learned from her Wezesha Vijana peer mentoring club, Hadija was able to identify untapped financial opportunities at home. She saw the potential that fallow family land had for not only providing family sustenance but also for generating income. With her mother’s blessing, Hadija began planting vegetables on that fallow, formerly unproductive land.
Today, when ready, Hadija harvests her vegetables, allocating some for her family (saving them food money in the process) and selling the rest throughout the community. From her sales Hadija earns about 2000tsh ($.60 US) a day, and bringing those 2000 tsh back to her mom she provides for the purchase of other family needs. For good reason, Hadija’s mother is very proud of her.
And not only is Hadija a successful entrepreneur, she is expanding her workforce! She has taken on a business partner, her sister, whose company role is to complete Hadija’s household chores while Hadija goes into the community to sell her produce. In return, Hadija gives her business partner/sister a small amount from the “firm’s” earnings.
Hadija is just one good example of how young girls, when given the tools, are capable of solving challenges and contributing to the community. To date, upwards of 1000 young girls have passed through the Wezesha Vijana Program in Lushoto. Someday, we hope to tell the story of their collective impact on the Lushoto district communities, all one thousand (and counting) of them. For now, though, we’re delighted to share with you the single story of Hadija.