THE RIGHT TO SOMEWHERE SAFE TO SLEEP

Sarah EliachimTogether with our partner the Community and Social Enterprise Aid Consultancy (CASEC), African Initiatives are working with Tanzanian communities to build girls’ dormitories at secondary schools. Because of this girls have somewhere safe to live while they get an education; saving them the long and dangerous walk to secondary school.

Sarah Eliachim is 18 years old. Along with her younger sister she goes to Haydom Secondary School in Manyara Region, Tanzania. Together, they live in a ghetto.

Sarah dreams of becoming a doctor. Her grades are not what they could be, but this is not surprising, given her dual life as a student and carer.

When she finishes school at 5pm, she must first walk back to the ghetto. Sarah is lucky in this respect, her ghetto is near to the school and he walk will only take 30 minutes.

Once she is home she then has to collect water to clean the house and begin cooking. She will walk a mile to find a source and then hand pump as much as she can carry.

Dust is so prevalent in Tanzania that you have to clean the house on a daily basis. This means sweeping out the house, and then washing down the floors and surfaces by hand. Sarah will then begin dinner. As gas and electricity prices are high, she does all her cooking on an open fire outside, which she has to prepare.

Sarah has her homework to complete, and Sarah, unlike many students, wants to complete her homework more than anything. By the time the meal has been prepared and eaten she has now missed evening preparation at school. These are extra classes between 7 and 9 pm for students in her class to support them as they prepare for their O-Level exams. Sarah is now falling further behind her classmates.

Now she must lock her sister and herself within one room in their house. The ghetto is not safe. At night men from the surrounding village try to enter their house, looking for sex. They call at all hours, knocking on the doors and windows to try to get the girls inside to let them in. Sarah and her sister are tired and scared. But they do not open the door.

In the morning the cycle must continue. Sarah gets up. She walks the mile to fetch as much water as she can carry. She builds a fire to make breakfast. She cooks. She washes her face. She walks to school. She studies hard but sometimes she falls asleep as she has not slept. School finishes. She walks home. She fetches water. She does her chores. She cleans. She builds. She cooks. She misses evening prep. She locks the door of their bedroom.

At their school there is a Dormitory for girls to stay in, supervised by a matron and with a cook. It has the capacity for 60 girls although there are only 14 living there at present. Sarah’s father has decided that she cannot move into the dormitory as she has to care for her little sister and it is too expensive for them both to stay there.

It costs £43 for one girl to live in a Dormitory for a year.

 They will not have to lock the door of their bedroom.