The girl with the never ending smile

 

Dear All,

 

My name is Elvira and I’m a 22 year old girl from the Netherlands, recently I went to Tanzania to work in an orphanage for girls. After an eight hour busdrive from Dar es Salaam to the orphanage I got a really warm welcome; a big hug from Tamari –the girl with the never ending smile-.

 

At first glance you wouldn’t say Tamari just became 22 years old, she looks older and wiser than me. I would call Tamari the girl with the never ending smile, cause no matter what, she looks always happy and dresses like it’s a party. Celebrating every hour of the day. Everyone in the village knows Tamari and will say hello and how are you to her. She appreciates where she comes from but is also able to look critically at the cultural traditions. For example female circumcision, you can read more about that in the interview.

 

I got really inspired by her for example, as an orphanage herself she has been through a lot. When she was younger, unfortunately more than sometimes, there was not enough money to buy food so she would get food once a day! (can you even imagine eating once a day?). At the age of four she had to work hard for her schooluniform. I can imagine that she would be sad cause of everything she has been through, but she is really strong and although young she definitely knows what she wants. Nothing comes for granted and she will work really hard to get what she wants!

That changed my way of thinking as well, we take so much for granted that we don’t realize anymore how special things can be.  I like studying but never thought about how lucky I am being able to study and have access to a university/ a lot of knowledge. A big difference with Tanzania where so many young people want to study, but don’t have the money for it. Here in the Netherlands the government just pays…before going to Tanzania it was like getting a gift without knowing it, after I met Tamari I know how big the gift is that I got. I will appreciate the opportunity to study so much more!

 

Below you can read the interview with Tamari:

 

Can you please introduce yourself to the readers?

My name is Tamari Moto and I’m 22 years old. I am working as an assistant volunteers coordinator. I started working at IOP at august 2012. And I really love my work here.

 

What is it like to be a 22 year old girl in Tanzania?

I feel strong as a 22year old girl. When I was 15/16 years it was difficult for me to stand in front of people, but now it is totally fine by me. I enjoy standing in front of people. So it is totally different now that Im 22!

Furthermore it is difficult to be a girl in Tanzania. Most things we don’t do the same as the boys. The boys think that we are weak and that they are better. But that is not true, we are all the same!

 

But do you have the same rights?

We do have the same rights. But still.. they act like they are higher than us. In family the man is the head of the house.

In the past there was a lot of violence against girls but now it is getting better. The government is trying to stop this. They also stopped the circumcision. Girls were also forced to marry a man who is a lot older. But now they’ve changed it. Things are getting better for girls like me.

 

What do you do in your free time/in the weekends?

I really love to be with friends. I don’t like to stay alone/be at home because than I will start thinking about a lot of things, and I don’t like that. So I go out with friends very often. Sometimes we go hiking into the mountains, taking pictures. Or we are going to Iringa. And on Sunday I normally go to church and after that to scouts. When I’m alone I’m thinking a lot.. but when i’m with others I get some distraction!

 

What is your favourite music?

Gospel! I really love to sing. Rose Mhando – she is a gospel singer, I really like her!

 

How do you see your future?

I’m very glad that I’ve got my sponsor. Cause I was planning to go to school. I really love to study to become a librarian. So i’m going to study at the university in Dar es Salam for 3 years! It is starting in next September. After finishing my study I will perhaps come back to IOP, but you never know!

 

What are the most important values in life for you?

Praying to god, respecting other people and being happy!!

 

 

As I said before I think that in western countries we take too much for granted, for example getting education. Because of that it can feel as something that we are supposed to do, instead of feeling like getting a gift. The moment you realize that those things are not normal for everyone, you will appreciate so much more in life.

 

I hope that students in European countries will start thinking about how special it is that we can go to university, and that we have access to a good educational system. We have to be thankful for that, because education is where it all starts. We have to work hard and realize ourselves that nothing comes for granted, even though it can be difficult sometimes.

 

We have so much knowledge, without sometimes even knowing it, share it with the people around you! Because sharing is caring!

Enjoy all the small things in life, and wear a smile on your face every day like Tamari!

 

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