DOB – May 15, 1988.
Came under Tumaini care January, 2010.
The only girl in the family feels tremendous pressure: first, as an African woman trying to get an education and give herself a chance at life, and secondly, tending to her dying parents, all the while trying to help support the family and ensure that she and her three younger brothers had a place to live, food to eat, and continued their studies, even after their parents had passed. It was a very difficult time for everyone and the struggles continued for six years until, when I met them, first Mary and Nelson during a home visit in the village of Usa River, I marveled at the determination and dedication they possessed in their pursuits of a better life.
“My name is Mary Evance Minja. I was born on 15th May, 1988. I am 22 years old. I am the first born in our family. I have three brothers Reward, Nelson and last born Kelvin. I have no parents, both mother and father. My father died in 2004, the sixth day of October, while my mother died on 27th December, 2007.
I studied at LeGanga Primary School from 1996-2002. I was selected to join secondary education and I started Form One in 2003-2006 when I finished Form 4 at Uraki Secondary School. My performance was very good from Form 1 (#4 of 82 students), Form II (#2 of 80 students), Form III (#5 of 63 students). When I was in Form II my father passed away. Because we were depend(ent) on him, the condition of the family became bad, especially in term of school fees as well as food and other needs. The situation caused me not to do well in my Form IV national examination. I got Division IV (the lowest passing grade a student can receive). I decided to repeat the class in 2007. Reward and I (he was in Form I), every day were sent home because teachers failed to understand the situation of our family. (There was no money to pay the school fees.) The situation made our performance poor. When I was preparing to repeat my Form IV final examination in October, my mother became sick. It caused me to again leave school and come home to care for my mother because I am the only girl in our family. Not one of our relatives helped me. When the examination came I went but before I received my result (27th December, 2007) we lost our mother. We buried our mother on 29th December. My results came and I received credit to go to Advanced level but the problem was fees. I decided to start buying and selling clothes but the profit was not enough to pay the fees.
Luckily, The Holy Spirit Sisters from Moshi promised to help me with fees for Forms V and IV and I was happy to hear that news but things were bad for my younger brothers. Reward had completed Form IV but his result was not good because of our problems and because we were not permitted to be at school. Nelson had completed Standard Seven and Kelvin was very young (eight years old). God is good all the time. Reward found a volunteer who helped him with Form V and Form VI. Nelson found day school for but had to live alone for two years, yet he studied hard and was #3 of 175 students in his class. (Mama Dee sponsored him to attend Ailanga Lutheran Secondary School, the 16th best in Tanzania. Nelson had to pass an entrance exam to be granted admission. He did.) Kelvin went to live with a friend of the family but was not treated well by the mother or the children. This year, (2010) I will complete Form Six and write my national exam. I expect to graduate Division I (she graduated Division II, one of only two girls who did) if God wishes and my dream is to become a lawyer.” Mary Minja (written in 2010)
I arrived at the Minja house frustrated and discouraged, having just visited a “Bibi” or grandmother whose two granddaughters were prostituting themselves. One, seventeen, has a child already and her fifteen year old sister was pregnant! Frustration turned to amazement when Mary and Nelson told me their story and explained how well they were doing in school in spite of the difficulties their situations presented. I had to ask how an entire family, devoid of positive influence or parental guidance, could achieve so much with so little! “Mama and Baba told us when they got sick that there would be no money, no inheritance for us . . . our only inheritance would be our educations and we would have to work very hard to earn that,” Mary shared in our conversation.
They have and continue to work hard, and in 2018 Mary (who is now married and a mother herself), having taught secondary school for two years, made the decision to return to us at Tumaini and is an integral member of our administrative team!