Zainabu Adamu, 24


I was one of the first girls to live in the dormitory built by Lyra, and it changed my life.  

Before that, I was living with my grandparents, about 8km from the secondary school. We would wake up at 5:15, and then we had to leave by 6:00 on the dot and really run, otherwise we would be late for school and be punished.

It was a really long way, and we crossed three mountains, one of them very high, and also right down into the valleys, crossing 3 rivers. Teachers don’t mind whether it’s raining or not, you can’t be late. In our area, it wasn’t just rainy, but also very windy. So you wear only your sweater, and run, getting to school soaked. Yes, we did feel cold, and Madege is a very cold area of Tanzania, but you cope, because you really need your education.

I got tired because of the distance, and when I got home I helped my grandma fetch water. I used to wake up at night to study by a small oil lamp, as we didn’t have electricity. My grandma was worried that I would be too tired, given the long distance and the work I was doing. When Lyra built two dormitories at Madege, it was a great chance for me and other girls. It was Form IV– the final year of secondary school - when I went into the new dormitory.

We had got used to the distance and thought it was normal, but when I moved into the dormitory that’s when I realised how far it was. My academic performance improved a lot – there was a big difference from my mock exams up to the final national exams because I had enough time to study. I was the first girl in the school to ever pass Form IV.

If you met me now in town, you wouldn’t believe I studied in Idete. In fact, when I was encouraging students in one school telling them my story, some of the girls were whispering "she doesn’t know what a hard life is!" It's because they can’t believe the change in me. But you just go from one stage to another. If you look at the house we live in, you could still tell, because all of the other houses around us are good, except ours. I’ll be able to help improve the house, and do so many other things, I can’t tell you!