Meet Neema: a Social Mobilizer in Tanzania
My name is Neema Victor. I'm one of six children who were all raised by a single mother. As a primary school teacher, she struggled a lot to raise her six children and two other family members. Life at home was difficult. We could barely get the important things we needed as humans and children. Living in economic hardship without any support from my father or anyone else, my mother always did her best to make sure we could survive. But living was a daily struggle.
When I was in primary school, I watched almost half of the girls drop out. Most dropped out as a result of early pregnancies, early marriages, poverty and divorce or family separation.
Of the 100 girls in my primary school, only two of us—myself and my friend— passed to go onto secondary school.
Regretfully, the other girl got pregnant and was expelled from school. So, I am the only girl from my class who completed secondary education and then went onto college.
In my community, people believe that a person’s drive is shaped by their experience and their desire to live a different life. Growing up, I watched my mother struggle for the whole family. I witnessed my elder brother stop studying before college and my sister drop out of secondary school to get married. I saw countless friends drop out of school – and all of this made me want to change my situation. The question was, how do I change the situation? I couldn’t take my family and friends back to school, but I believed I could help change lives of the next generation.
So, I decided to use my passion to help girls study hard and reach their educational goals. I saw how many girls’ dreams were crushed by getting pregnant at a very young age and how these girls were treated in our community. I vowed to do something to change that.
Being a part of Room to Read as a social mobilizer has made me achieve my wish. As a social mobilizer in the Girls' Education Program, I mentor girls both through individual and group levels to encourage them to work through obstacles and stay in school. I faciliate life skills that help them negotiate key life decisions and make choices that work best for their lives. I also work closely with parents and larger communities to advocate for girls' rights and education. My role has greatly changed the academic and general well-being of many girls. I am very grateful that I get to be part of a program that creates positive change every single day.
Many girls in my community are going through unimaginable struggles. Room to Read’s legacy is touching the lives of millions of girls in so many different situations.
For me, working with girls in Room to Read’s programs has given me a real sense of purpose. I am able to give other girls something that I have already been given—an education and an opportunity to overcome challenges and succeed.
I hope I am living proof to Tanzanian girls that they, too, can fulfill their dreams. Seeing girls inspired and working towards their goals is my greatest purpose in life. I am proud to be a part of an organization that is finding real solutions to real struggles in our communities. Thank you to everyone who has supported our work. We're incredibly grateful.