Lilian Looloitai: Childhood and Education
Lilian is the second born in her family, and her father is a polygamy man which meant her family was quite large; she had seven step sisters and brothers. Lilian grew up in a village in Monduli district and recollected, with fondness, her communal upbringing:
“My community was full of love and communal interaction. Everyone was very close and you could rely on any member of the village as you would a mother or father.”
Lilian was very fortunate with her experience of the education system in Tanzania. She came from a family who supported her education from start to finish, and her parents did not need to contribute much financially to her journey from primary school through to the completion of secondary school.
“I went to a special, government-funded primary school for pastoralist children. It was a boarding school and the services was good; all was provided for, from accommodation to food and learning equipment such as exercise books.”
Lilian’s secondary school, although not a government-funded school, was also a specialist school for pastoralist children. In this case, just for girls.
“The Tanzanian government in the past put significant funding and resources into supporting pastoralist parents to educate their children as pastoralist communities tend not to recognise the value of an education, particularly for daughters. This was a special governmental objective, and boarding schools were established to help ease the pressure on parents to financially provide for their child’s education.”
When Lilian was in Form Three in 1998 she was asked what she wanted to be when she grew up: “I knew I wanted to work with people; I was never interested in teaching or law. My dream was to work with the community, to interact with people, and to bring about positive change and influence impact.”
Lilian went on to study a BA in Sociology and Anthropology at The Catholic University of Eastern Africa in Kenya. She has since completed a Master’s degree in Development Studies. Just a few years after graduating, in 2008 Lilian secured a role as Executive Managing Director of CORDS.
“My day-to-day role involves managing staff and ensuring there is a conducive working environment so that CORDS’s vision and mission is both protected and implemented. I also keep a look out for resources, monitor funding and oversee the assessment of our projects.”