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Monday, July 1, 2019

Paralegals rescued a school-girl from risky environment.

Hai paralegal Ms. Gabriel Mndeme, educating pupils of Weruweru primary schools on legal issues, child rights, how to protect themselves from such risks as rape, early marriages and early pregnancies--under the nationalwide community legal empowerment programmes supported by the Legal Services Facility (LSF)

By Correspondent
There are millions of school-age children in Tanzania who are not going to school due to poverty.  Studies by government agencies and non-governmental organizations attribute massive school-dropouts reported in different parts of Tanzania to abject poverty facing respective families. Faced by poverty, some parents abandon their children, leaving them with no means to survive, some of them becoming street boys and girls and exposed to risk environments.

12-year-old girl (name withheld) was a standard six pupil at Shirimatunda primary school-Hai District (Kilimanjaro). Since she was born she had been living with her mother in the same village. But both the girl and her mother were living in a house built by her grandmother.

This is a poor family- the girl, her mother and grandmother, which was struggling to get a single-meal a day, let alone other basic needs, pay for the girl’s education and health services. Despite the critical situation faced by the family, the girl was still going to school.
As she looks for other means of getting out of poverty, the girl’s mother decided to relocate to Dar es Salaam, searching for greener-pastures leaving behind her daughter and grandmother.

In order to survive and keep the family going, the girl’s grandmother decided to start-up local brew “Gongo” business, which provided them with small income for food, school-fee and other contributions for the girl. The product was being served inside and outside grandmother’s home.

Automatically, the house became too busy, with “Gongo” drinkers moving in and out, looking for the illicit-liquor. In the course of time, the girl was exposed to risky environment. Under circumstances which her grandmother could hardly explain, some of the potential “Gongo” drinkers raped the girl.

At the school, teachers noticed some abnormalities in the girl’s appearance; they reported the matter to Hai district social welfare office, to which she was taken for interview and collection of important information before taking further decision. Social welfare office advised school management to consult Hai paralegal Gabriel Mndeme and discuss better ways of how to rescue the girl, taking her away from risky to a safer and secure environment.

“In the course of discussions, I decided to take the girl to my home. She is now in safe hands, she is going to school just like other pupils,” says Hai paralegal, who was instrumental in getting the girl out of the risky environment.

The girl has since been transferred from Shirimatunda primary to Weruweru primary school—thanks to smart-partnership of Hai district social welfare, education officers and paralegal, who struggled to protect the girl.
“The girl is okay now; she is doing fine in class, performing well in many subjects.” says her class-teacher at Weruweru, Sarah Munuo.

“As school management, we provide the girl with all the necessary support to make sure that she is comfortable and performs well. In fact, her story pushed us to introduce special sessions in which Hai paralegal comes here and educate the pupils (on regular basis) on legal issues, child rights, how to protect themselves from such risks as rape, early marriages and early pregnancies etc.” –Weruweru primary school head-teacher,  Andrew Makiao.
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