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“My name is Neema Meliyo, I was born and raised at Manyara – Tanzania and my tribe is Maasai.

My parents are farmers and pastoralist. We are twelve children, nine boys and three girls.

In my family girls are not sent to school, my father believes that girls are born to be married, my young sister married off when she was 12 years old.

In 2009, my auntie visited us and asks permission from my father to take me with her to Arusha so that I could help auntie staying with her children, and my father agreed.

My auntie’s plan was to take me to school so she had to lie because if she could tell my father the truth, my father would not agree. At that time, I was 9 years old - my auntie sent me to primary school, I passed and joined government secondary school and I passed again to join College but my auntie could not support me due to her financial struggles. I had to stay at home and help her with domestic chores and we were also selling fried fish and cassava in the street.

I was happy to hear about Umoja, I applied and got a chance. I believe this is another golden chance to me to prove my father wrong, I trust Umoja will help me to fulfill my dream of being an account, I will educate and support my society and I will be a symbol to show my community and my father there is advantage of taking girls to school.”

Neema is kind, good organizer, and ambitious girl. She is very confident to speak and advice when she sees something is wrong.

Currently, Neema is studying a Basic Technician certificate in procurement at Institute of Accountancy Arusha (IAA) and amazing news, after starting her certificate course her father decided to support her and he is working closely with Umoja now.

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