Becoming comfortable with being uncomfortable.

By Girls Livelihood and Mentoring Initiatives

As the year 2020 began, like everyone in the world, the Girls Livelihood and Mentoring Initiatives (GLAMI) had no way of knowing the immense changes that would come in the year. Since then, the Global covid-19 pandemic had a profound effect on life in almost every country: here in Tanzania all students were abruptly sent home for an indefinite period in mid-March:  all GLAMI activities were suspended.

We learned that we had to adapt quickly or lose a generation of girls in whom we and the girls themselves had invested so much.

GLAMI Scholars listening to strength and resilience lessons recently.

Although GLAMI activities were suspended, the problems facing girls only multiplied so GLAMI worked to ensure the girls had the support needed while staying at home:

  • We communicated with parents and scholars specifically about the virus, including basic hygiene and health-related information, and with information on how parents can support their daughters to keep studying while they are at home.
  • Our social workers continued to prioritize those girls who were at particularly high risk, both through psycho-social support and with cash payments. To make it easy for those scholars in need, GLAMI established a toll-free number that they could use to reach out anytime they had access to a phone, even if they did not have credit to call.
GLAMI Scholars at Langasani Secondary School receiving reviews even while staying home during COVID-19.

After a month GLAMI evaluated its effectiveness in response to covid-19, and came up with more specific ways to respond to the situation and support the girls:

  • Scholars’ academic needs were a clear area for intervention and assistance so academic material and online sources were provided for them.
  • GLAMI also identified those scholars who did not have access to technological devices and offered printed materials to them so that they could continue their studies at home.
  • Some scholars had urgent needs around access to food, as they were dependent on schools for the provision of meals, so GLAMI responded by supplying food to those scholars in need.   

When the government of Tanzania reduced restrictions around  covid-19 and re-opened schools in July 2020, GLAMI looked ahead at how to continue supporting beneficiaries in the most efficient and safe way possible. From the participatory need assessment that we conducted, GLAMI continued to support scholars by:

Supporting Partner Schools to reopen safely. We supported partner schools to implement or strengthen their existing hygiene facilities so that scholars were able to protect themselves from infection, assist partner schools with protective clothing and equipment for scholars and provide stationery to schools to assist scholars in catching up on school work.

GLAMI Scholar at Makumira secondary doing a demonstration on how to wash hands after receiving the handwashing equipment from GLAMI.

Create COVID-19 resilience in the girls served. We provided scholars with basic provisions and resources to guard against dropout, we reviewed curricula to better incorporate the skills needed by scholars in a pandemic / post-pandemic context, we reconsidered and adapted programme delivery modes to ensure the safety of scholars and found more effective ways of supporting alumnae to ensure their education journey continues beyond GLAMI’s formal programmes.

It’s been a hard year but we found that by embracing discomfort we were able to adapt and thrive.

 “GLAMI is a great organization, may God keep on blessing you for all of what you do” said GLAMI Scholar from Machame Secondary School

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