Maddocks Board Scholarship - Lucy Fitzhenry
Board scholarship recipient Lucy Fitzhenry headed to Tanzania, where she volunteered for Life Support for Change.
Life Support for Change support the most vulnerable women and children of the local communities in the Northern parts of Tanzania, specifically in the Arusha region.
“In this part of Tanzania, receiving an education is not given priority to children, particularly girls. This is a direct consequence of poverty. Girls already living in poverty are the most vulnerable, because they are unable to attend school when they have their period as they don't have access to sanitary products.” said Lucy.
“Before I left, I began fundraising in the hope that we would roll out their largest washable pads campaign to date. With the support of the Board, Maddocks colleagues, friends and family we were able to raise $3000 AUD.”
On what was involved in the trip, Lucy said there were a range of activities that went into contributing to Life Support for Change’s mission.
“We spent a lot of the first week in government offices in the local villages speaking to leaders about the program and why it was so important that the girls in their village received the kits. With their blessings we were able to schedule in mandatory sessions at schools. This was challenging because speaking to men about periods is still a taboo subject in rural Tanzania.”
"On our second week we visited eight schools to distribute the kits and educate the girls about menstrual hygiene, early pregnancy and their rights as a woman. It was wonderful to see their eyes light up as they watched the presentation via a projector and screen for the first time!"
Lucy also managed to also receive some further funding to send six girls to school during her trip through Instagram.
“During my time working at the Centre prior to the pads campaign, I came to know some of the most vulnerable children in the Mikungani village. They would turn up every day without question to learn computer, to practice English, but I learned pretty quickly that they wouldn’t be attending secondary school due to finance issues. In one day, I ran a campaign on my Instagram account for the six children and we managed to raise enough money to buy all six of them school supplies (uniform, their food contribution to the school for one year and exercise books and pens).”
So what’s next for Lucy and her work with LSforC?
“To understand the life of a girl in rural Tanzania takes more than two weeks. It’s complex, and it’s steeped in tradition and respect. The girls we worked with are all from Masai and Meru tribes. Some were from broken homes, some without mothers and some living well below the poverty line. Next year, I will be working with LSforC on Direct Aid Project (DAP) applications and fundraising to build a school which will be run by LSforC and teachers in the future.” said Lucy.
“The work LSforC is doing for the rural community of Mbguni Ward near Arusha doesn’t end with the pads. Miriam Kaaya Oscar and her small team of volunteers (both African and international) are running a community centre where all girls and boys are welcome. In the mornings they run computer classes and teach the kids how to use Microsoft Office and general computer skills. English is mandatory in Tanzania to attend secondary school - the sad part about this is that they don’t learn any English through primary school and it almost sets them up to fail. Miriam and her team help the kids to cram and learn English before starting secondary school.”
You can watch Lucy's experience in the video below.