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15 July 2021

New chance for mother and child

EBLI 4 ZVg By Bruno Amrein
EBLI 4 ZVg By Bruno Amrein

Lack of sex education and the dream of a life without poverty are responsible for many teenage pregnancies in Tanzania. EBLI's education programme in Mwanza on Lake Victoria coaches young mothers in need for a good life in independence for themselves and their children. Diana Marco has successfully completed the holistic training with the partner organisation of terre des hommes switzerland. She is the everyday heroine in the SRF programme "mitenand" on 18 July 2021.

Diana Marco is 21 and has a two-year-old daughter, Leokadia. The two live with Diana's mother in a simple dwelling in the city of Mwanza, regional industrial and economic center on Lake Victoria in the northwest of the East African country.

Diana is doing well again. She earns her own money and is full of confidence. She sells homemade vegetable doughnuts to people in the neighborhood and has also found a part-time job in a dorm at the nearby university. "I'm not the Diana I was before," she says. "I'm standing up for myself and I can do what I want. Because now I'm accepted in the community."

Also supported by Swiss Solidarity

Diana Marco is the everyday heroine in the portrait by journalist and filmmaker Bruno Amrein. On 18 July, the report will be published in the SRF programme "mitenand aired for the first time before the daytime news. "mitenand" presents the work of charitable organizations every Sunday evening.

Diana has been training for six months with the Non-profit organization EBLI (Education for Better Living Organization) in the Tanzanian city of Mwanza on Lake Victoria, with which terre des hommes switzerland has been working for nine years. The Top chef Tanja Grandits is ambassador of the Tanzanian partner organisation of terre des hommes switzerland. Also the foundation Swiss Solidaritywhich is committed to humanitarian and social work thanks to private donations, supports the Tanzanian partner project of terre des hommes switzerland.

Insulted and ostracized

A little over two years ago, when Diana was 19 and gave birth to a baby girl, she was desperate. She had been expelled from school because of her pregnancy, the child's father was long gone, and she didn't know how she was going to support her little family. On top of that, she was being called names and ostracized for breaking a taboo. Getting pregnant as a girl or young woman and not having a husband is considered sacrilege in Tanzania - it was the same in Switzerland for a long time.

Diana's family was also shocked and initially distanced themselves from her. "When I got pregnant, I had no hope," she says looking back. "I almost lost it and cried a lot because everyone was bullying me." But then she was able to participate in EBLI's education program, she says: "And suddenly I saw a new opportunity."

A holistic training

Diana has completed six months of training with EBLI. The holistic educational program helps and empowers girls and young women from humble backgrounds like Diana, who find themselves in a precarious, seemingly hopeless situation. The young single mothers are educated on sexual health and rights. They learn the practical basics of business management in order to start their own small business.

And they are strengthened in their self-confidence: Because they absolutely need that on their way to independence and self-reliance. "In the EBLI programme I learned that you first have to clarify the market environment if you want to set up a business," says Diana Marco. "I found out that no one was offering anything fresh for breakfast here in the neighborhood. I then looked into making doughnuts and selling them for a small profit at an affordable price. No one else here offers that."

To this day, Diana Marco regularly attends EBLI courses in Mwanza. This should help her to stand on her own feet in the long term. When Bruno Amrein visited her in May this year with his film and smartphone camera, she was doing a computer course on how to use Excel and Word for Windows. "At EBLI I learn so many things, not only on the computer," she says. "For example, how to protect myself from male violence or from an unwanted pregnancy. I also heard about contagious diseases here for the first time. And learned how to think entrepreneurially."

Trap sex for safety

Diana's situation before she benefited from the training with EBLI is not an isolated case in Tanzania. Even if the population has high hopes for Samia Suluh Hassan, the new president of the East African country since spring 2021 - the situation regarding the protection, rights and equal opportunities of women and girls in Tanzania remains poor. And the health crisis extended by the Delta variants will certainly not defuse this imbalance for the time being.

In Tanzania, one in four girls becomes pregnant before the age of 18. "Many girls and young women enter into sexual relationships with older men who make them financial promises or offer them supposed security," says Susanne Furler, programme coordinator for Tanzania at terre des hommes Switzerland. Safe contraception is a foreign word, she says, as the subject is taboo and sex education is non-existent in Tanzania's schools. "If the girls become pregnant, they are abandoned. Many teenage mothers lack the education and income for a secure future."

The legacy of the old president

Costantine Nyambayo, who coordinates terre des hommes switzerland's country programme in Tanzania from Dar es Salam, tells Bruno Amrein: "Far too many teenage girls have to leave school. They struggle with poverty and violence in the family and community."

Former President John Magufuli, who died suddenly in the spring of 2021, had ordered: Schoolgirls who become pregnant must leave school. The decree is still in force for the time being. "Many girls are then isolated and get no support, it is very difficult for them," Costantine Nyambayo knows. "They should actually go back to school quickly, but the government doesn't allow that."

Regaining a foothold in life

EBLI thus supports young mothers like Diana to regain their footing in life. Every year, 120 young mothers between the ages of 13 and 20 are given a new chance with the education programme of the partner organisation of terre des hommes switzerland in Mwanza to take their lives into their own hands and to give themselves and their children a good future. Around 1,000 young people are reached every year with information events and a further 500 young people in youth clubs in Mwanza.

All in all, these are not numbers with a big reach. But for every single young woman and her family, as well as for the young people in Mwanza who benefit from EBLI's education programme, it is a godsend for life.

Our projects in Tanzania

Together with four local partner organisations, terre des hommes switzerland is active in Tanzania in the areas of sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) and gender-based violence (GBV).

Three partner organizations are located on Lake Victoria in northwestern Tanzania: EBLI and WADADA in Mwanza, HUMULIZA in Nshamba in the Kagera region. The fourth partner organization, KIVIDEA, operates in Kigoma on Lake Tanganyika in western Tanzania. With another local organization in Mwanza, terre des hommes switzerland is currently in clarification for a possible cooperation.

With its projects for and with young people and their social environment in Tanzania, which the SDC terre des hommes switzerland contributes to the following UN development goals (Sustainable Development Goals, SDGs) of the Agenda 2030: SDG 3 Good health promotion (3.3 and 3.7), SDG 4 Quality education (4.7), SDG 5 Gender equality (5.2, 5.3, 5.6).

Anna Wegelin, collaboration Sue Furler

Young mother: Diana Marco, young mother in the EBLI education program, from July 18, 2021, 7:15 pm, SRF 1 in the program "With you

Expert: Abubakar Mutoka, youth work advisor for the partner organisations of terre des hommes switzerland in Tanzania, in the Interview

Manager: Costantine Nyambayo, National Coordinator of terre des hommes switzerland in Tanzania, in the Interview

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