When COVID took hold in Tanzania and schools were closed girls were at greatest risk of dropping out of school.  There is huge gender discrimination in the country which, particularly in remote areas like Mtwara - girls already face huge barriers to accessing education but, in a crisis, there are added pressures to take on caring responsibilities and even marry just to survive.

When the schools closed, we were able to adapt our menstrual health project to ensure that the most vulnerable girls still had access to sanitary products and support – we provided them with masks, soap, information and, most importantly, regular contact.  This is when we met Greta.

Greta’s family are extremely poor – they rely on money from selling cashews and mangos to passers-by.  When COVID took hold and lockdown was imposed their income disappeared. 

As the oldest daughter at 13, Greta was considered old enough to marry - child marriage is against the law in Tanzania but is still quite common in remote areas.  If she married, Greta could never return to school and would be expected to bear children.

The EdUKaid team helped Greta’s family understand that her education was important and that Greta had the right to return to school.  They also helped the family understand that, just because girls Greta’s age had been marrying for generations, it was not right and there were other options.  The team referred the family to social services and they were able to access a welfare payment to buy food.  This process took several visits but, eventually, the family accepted it was the right thing to allow Greta to return to school.

In October, Greta passed her primary school leaving exam which means she can go to secondary school in January.  Greta told us 'I am going to work hard and make my family proud.'

A regular gift will help us reach more girls just like Greta.