The first Lundamatwe hostel girls - what are they doing now?

Sayuni was one of the first girls to stay in the hostel at Lundamatwe Secondary School, built by Lyra in 2013. She joined Lyra’s new school leavers programme in 2018 and is now teaching other young people in her community to start businesses. Sayuni recently told Lyra her story.

I was often sick when I was young, and missed a lot of classes. Despite the challenges, I passed and started Form 1 at Lundamatwe secondary school. My father was against me because of my sickness, but I cried and really fought for the chance to go to school.  When I started Form 1 I rented a ghetto (small room) to stay near the school but the Lyra hostel was built when I was in Form 2. Sometimes I had been sent away from school to go and get fees, so I would miss lessons. I advised my father to send me to the hostel, I told him it was hard to study by oil lamp. I’m grateful that my father understood. At that time the hostel cost was only £25 and one tin of maize. When I joined the hostel, my academic performance improved a lot, I moved from 45th position to between 18th or 20th in the class.

I am desperate to continue with further education, but my results weren’t good enough for a government high school, and my father can’t afford private education. I heard about the Lyra training and my teacher advised me to get the training first. They asked me questions about my talents. I told them I have a talent in Gospel singing. I realised I would love to get that training first. I had lost hope but found that hope had returned. They taught us entrepreneurship and also keeping chickens.

During the training I went to Mbeya for the exposure tour where I was most interested with the fish-keeping project. I decided to start the project because the fish go bad when they are brought from town. I want to sell very good quality fish for people’s health, direct within the village without the disturbance of bringing all the way from town. I hope I can succeed and be a very big fish keeper. The savings programme makes me work harder to find money so that I can make the savings every week. Until now I have saved more than £70.

I want to educate those who have lost hope, so they know it’s not the end of their lives, there is something they can do.

I saw some of my fellows in a worse situation than me, and it made me realise I’m in a position to do something. Me – Sayuni – who has already been changed – can help others to get hope. I can help them to be like me, to have hope again.

I have started teaching 15 other young people, and they have started to change, even though I have only just started. There are lots of boys and a few girls.

When I first started training the others I was a bit scared. But then I felt like - I am valued and respected standing in front of my peers. Other people have been calling me an entrepreneur because I am very young and proactive  but I do things that are useful and very different from the community. Many girls have come to get advice.

Currently my father is very happy with me, he can’t believe it’s me, Sayuni. He supports me because before he thought that I would just be left behind and end up getting married and lose the direction of my success but now he even wants to send me to the college for further education. He said: ‘I didn’t realise you were intelligent, if I had known, I would have sent you to college’. If I succeed in joining college I will study nursing, so I can be employed or employ myself by opening a pharmacy or medical centre in my village.

I am happy to get the chance to explain myself in front of you because to me it is a very big opportunity.