Finnish National Committee for UNICEF. Support to education and child protection programmes in UNICEF Tanzania, May 2010. Girl Power Conference .
Finnish National Committee for UNICEF
Support to education and child protection programmes in UNICEF Tanzania, May 2010
Approximately 400 girls (aged 13-18) from different primary and secondary schools in Temeke District gathered in Kigamboni to learn about reproductive health and HIV prevention.
“How to protect myself especially while I'm still a virgin. As a virgin you have more value, you wont get stigmatized in your community and when you accomplish your goals and get married, your husband will have more respect for you.” – Mwanamanga (14), grade 7
“Young girls like us should not be greedy, otherwise we will get into dangerous situations. It’s easy to get greedy for things we don’t have. For example I don’t have Tsh 10,000 (approx $8) to contribute for the mock exam preparations. My mother simply doesn’t have the means. But I still say NO to the sugar daddies, because I don’t want to get HIV.” – Mwanamanga (14), grade 7
“My advice to other girls is that don’t get fooled by these older men and don’t walk alone in deserted areas.” – Mwanamanga (14), grade 7
Mwanamanga lives at home with her mother and older brother (23) and I. Her father died a few years ago.
“When I finish school, I want to be a heart doctor because I see a lot of people in my community suffering from heart problems,” says Mwanamanga.
“I didn’t know what HIV was! But now I know what HIV is and the different ways of transmitting the disease and it’s not just through sex but also through cuts and blood transfusions.” – Flora (15), grade 7
“I also didn’t know what a virgin was! But now I know how to protect my virginity! And I will also teach my younger sister who is five years old how to take care of herself and stay away from sugar daddies.” – Flora (15), grade 7
“I will always say NO! I look at my surroundings and circumstances – although we are poor, I still have food, I go to school, I have all my basic needs. If I say YES, it will just bring me problems.
I will make sure to share my new knowledge with my friends and other students at my school. The key thing is that they should protect themselves from STDs, HIV and pregnancy and stay out of dangerous neighborhoods.” – Flora (15), grade 7
Flora’s father died when she was very young. She now lives her mother, two brothers (22 and 25 years) and younger sister who is 5. Her mother has no job and relies on petty business to support the family.
“I need to study hard so that I can help my family and other relatives to get out of poverty.”
“I want to be a doctor specializing in bones because I feel so bad when I see people involved in accidents. I want to be able to help them get their life back together.” – Flora (15), grade 7
Tumaini was a YAG for five years. Now she works with a local NGO to provide gender and HIV mainstream training. Today she is facilitating the Girl Power Conference as she interacts and shares information with primary school students.
“Primary school students lack sufficient correct information in relation to HIV and life skills, which makes it harder for them to resist peer pressure and temptation. So what I try to reinforce in the conference is decision-making, relationship and communication skills, as well as self-awareness, assertiveness.” – Tumaini, Girl Power facilitator
“However, having information alone is not enough. You must have the right life skills to support and ensure behavior change.” – Tumaini, Girl Power facilitator
“In primary schools the teachers lack the capacity, knowledge and information and they are too shy to teach about HIV prevention and reproductive health.” – Tumaini, Girl Power facilitator
Support at the district level is provided by UNICEF to help improve community’s capacity to reduce vulnerability among the most vulnerable children and adolescents. This has included the establishment of an MVCC and Community Justice Facilitators (CJFs) and training of MVCC members and CJFs on MVC identification, child rights and justice issues, mitigating child vulnerability and implementation of the MVC National Costed Plan of Action, along with the development and dissemination of community justice guidelines.
UNICEF funds also support activities that promote and facilitate child participation and communication, including children and young people to participate in HIV/AIDS related awareness and behavior change activities; and participation in child and youth led forums which make decisions affecting children.
“I want to help my family have a better life. You can see we live in very poor and hard conditions, so I want to get us out of this poverty.” – Asia (17)
Asia is a very bright, confident and vibrant young girl. Moreover, her English is exceptional, she does not need a translator. On this particular hot afternoon when the Finnish group walked up to her front door, she welcomed them and immediately asked, “What did you come here for?”
Asia is a secondary school student in form 3. But today she didn’t go to school, because there was no one to look after her younger siblings while her mother was attending a funeral (she was burying Asia’s grandfather).
Asia is the oldest of 8 siblings, the youngest is 4 years old.
Asia’s youngest sibling.
The Mbagala Kuu ward MVCC has 12 members (6 women and 6 men) and they have been providing assistance in the ward for 2 years. All the members work as volunteers to help identify MVC and give them the support they need.
In 2009, the MVCC members opened a center in the ward, which has seen a dramatic increase in the number of MVC from 189 to 266. The center helps identify and provide support to MVC in the ward and surrounding area. Two of the MVCC members are also teachers who volunteer their time to teach the MVC at the center.
“If the MVC center continues to get the support it needs, then in a few years we can see a big change with the number of MVC, it will reduce dramatically,” MVCC member.
“We volunteer to do this work because we are simply very touched by the situation of the vulnerable children,” MVCC member.