The commissioning of Mlowa Girls’ Hostel was a highlight for Lyra in March 2019. Located in the largest Wildlife Management Area in Tanzania, Mlowa Secondary School has 446 students. 80% are from Maasai Pastoralist families spread out across Ruaha National Park. Some children have to walk up to 24kms a day to reach school. The distance, and the risks that they face en route, means that there is a high dropout rate, especially from girls who encounter challenges like sexual advances and attacks on their walk to school.
After a fire destroyed the hostel in 2017, Lyra has completely refurbished it, with the generous support of the Infinity Foundation. Currently housing 92 girls, Mlowa hostel is our 10th hostel. We are delighted that nearly 1,000 girls now have safe places to live while they study for the education they deserve.
Tumaini Mbepati, 17, was ready to drop out of secondary education when a motorcycle driver made sexual advances toward her. She believed that being with him was the best option for her future.
“I thank my parents, community leaders and school management, for rescuing me from what would have been the worst decision of my life. I am now back in school and I live in the hostel. I am studying very hard to ensure that I pass my final exams and make a difference to my society, and also to be a leading example to other girls. My plea to parents is to bring their children to stay in hostel. It is safe, there is a lot of time to study, and it helps us not to be exposed to the daily challenges as we walk to and from school every day. Thank you so much to Lyra for restoring this hostel – we now have a safe space place to live and study. I now love studying, I love this hostel.”
Lyra is introducing Digital Learning to Mlowa secondary school too. Teachers and students will benefit from the world-class educational resources available through ‘Rachel’ (Remote Access Community Hotspot Educational Learning). Also, in partnership with Southern Tanzania Elephant Programme (STEP), Lyra is working to lessen wildlife and community conflict by engaging students with conservation of the land and animals around them. The beautiful mural painted on Mlowa hostel’s wall was collaboratively drawn by a local artist and the girls, to inspire the community to celebrate their rich wildlife heritage.
Building a hostel always amounts to more than the bricks of a building. Mlowa Girls’ Hostel is another example of a community expressing their commitment to girls’ education and a better future for their children.