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Meet Sifa from Tanzania

April 06, 2022

Girls' Education Tanzania

Room to Read’s Girls’ Education Program ensures that girls build the skills needed to succeed in school and navigate key life decisions. A critical component of the program is our life skills curriculum, which, combined with mentorship and peer support, and family and community engagement, supports girls in becoming positive agents of change in their own lives, in their communities and beyond. Through the program, girls learn how to advocate for themselves and chart a successful life path — one that they choose for themselves. 

Today, we’d like to introduce you to a participant from our Girls’ Education Program. Meet 15-year-old Sifa! Sifa lives with her parents and four siblings in Tanzania and has been enrolled in the Girls’ Education Program since 2017. Over the course of the last five years, Sifa has been immersed in life skills lessons that have transformed the ways in which she approaches her health, her time and her finances. “Through life skills lessons, I have learned about patience, critical thinking, communication, problem-solving and maintaining good relationships, among other things. These life skills have helped me overcome various challenges,” she reflected earlier this spring.

 

After learning the importance of time management, for example, Sifa began taking ownership of her study schedule. 

“When I was in Grade 5” she said, “my mother used to push me to study.” 

“Before joining Room to Read’s Girls’ Education Program, she rarely studied on her own,” her mother, Vanesa, added. “She didn’t have a schedule for chores or her studies. But now, no one pushes her to study. She knows when it’s time to study, rest or do chores.”  

Vanesa is especially thankful for the lessons in menstrual health and hygiene that are included in the Girls’ Education Program life skills curriculum. “In fact, I did not realize when she got her first period, due to the training she received from Room to Read. My child was taught well,” she said. 

Sifa said that she used to find it strange when people discussed menstruation. “I thought they were being disrespectful,” she remembered. “But in fact, menstruation is something that needs to be openly discussed. Through life skills lessons, we learned how to prepare for our menstrual periods.”

“Life skills lessons helped me overcome obstacles and focus on my studies.” Sifa, a 15-year-old Girls' Education Program participant

Girls enrolled in Room to Read’s Girls’ Education Program are also taught financial literacy through life skills lessons, learning how to save and manage their money responsibly. Sifa has learned how to save the money she receives from an allowance and been introduced to business planning and entrepreneurship. Lessons in financial literacy, she said, have left her more prepared to handle moments of unexpected financial stress at home.  

“My savings are useful in times of need,” she reflected. “For example, on days when my parents are unable to provide me with money for school, I take some money from my savings. My savings also help in meeting some of our needs at home. One day, we woke up and discovered we were out of sugar. My mother had no money and my father had left the house, so we bought sugar with money from my savings.” 

Vanesa added that her daughter had never before been able to save money as she does now. “Before she learned how to save from Room to Read, she spent all the money we gave her,” she said. “But now, she saves money to meet her needs. She often buys vegetables, fruits and clothing for herself and her siblings.” 

After graduation, Sifa aspires to become a doctor. “I want to become a doctor so that I can help and treat people,” she said. “I intend to assist my community and people of different ages.” 

Watch the video below to learn more about Sifa’s story and our Girls' Education Program.