For 15 year old Akili from Tanzania, the road to independence came with a lot of hurdles. She dropped out of school, was overloaded with house chores, trafficked, sexually abused, and finally exploited without pay as a child domestic worker. After she was identified and referred to our partner Kiwohede, Akili could finally develop her skills and become independent.
“I was so excited when I found that job in Mwanza.” Akili was only 13 years old when she saw the vacancy advertised in the newspaper, in January 2019. At that time she had already been out of school for two years. She had dropped out because she could no longer deal with the regular punishment from her teachers. The teachers were disciplining her for coming to school late. But Akili was only allowed to go to classes once she had finished the load of household chores her parents imposed on her.
The job advertisement felt like her chance to get a better life. “I called the number. A man by the name of Joseph told me he was looking for a girl to help him in his shop. He promised a pay of 80,000 Tanzanian shilling (about 30 euro). Joseph convinced my father that he was a good man, since he had more girls working in the shop. So after he had sent the bus fare, my father allowed me to go to Mwanza.”
Joseph was waiting for Akili at the bus station and left her in what seemed his house. When he came back late at night, he wanted to have sex with the girl. When she refused, he defiled her. “He threatened that if I told anyone, he would kill me. A week long he kept me locked in the house. I felt like the world had abandoned me, at one point I even felt it was better to die. Then he forgot to take his key. That was my chance to escape.”
Akili was roaming the streets of Mwanza, hoping to find help to return home. She met a woman who promised her a job with a pay of 30,000 Tanzanian shilling (about 12 euro). “I agreed and started working in her house. After a month, I asked for my wages. The lady said she could not give me anything, since I had been eating and sleeping in her house without paying.”
Luckily this time Akili did get the right help. A neighbour assisted her in reporting to the authorities, after which she was referred to Terre des Hommes’ partner Kiwohede. She got shelter and counselling in the drop-in centre. Kiwohede assisted Akili to file an official case with the police, but unfortunately Joseph had disappeared without a trace. She did however get her wages for the month she was employed as a domestic worker. Kiwohede also managed to trace Akili’s family, and they consented to the girl getting vocational training.
Akili was trained for six months in secretarial services. When she graduated, Kiwohede found her employment through their private sector network. “I'm now independent. My income is 300,000 Tanzanian shilling per month (about 117 euro). I can support my family. I bought a piece of land and have connected my family with a tap. My siblings no longer have to walk a long distance to fetch water. As for myself, I am no longer depending on anybody to fulfill my needs. I can get the food I want, sleep in my own room and wear good clothes. I am able to cope well with life again."