Miriam grew up in a mud-house in the Moshono area of Arusha with her younger brother and mother. Her father left the family when Miriam was young, and never helped her mother support the children. As a child she witnessed the hardships her mother went through trying to raise her children on her own. These formative experiences gave her a desire to become a lawyer so she could help other women facing injustice. Miriam was able to finish her secondary schooling through Umoja and has graduated from the Open University (Arusha Campus) and gained a Bachelor of Law .
‘When we were born, me and my young brother, they separated – my mother and my father,’ says Miriam. ‘So she was the one who was taking care. She was not educated and she does not have any money. She struggled hard sometimes – she worked for other people, she washed other people’s clothes so that I could go to school.’
‘My parents did not have enough money (to send me to secondary school) they are just at home,’ says Miriam.‘My mum, she did not plan anything (for me) after Form 4, because they did not have enough money to send me to that advanced level.’
Miriam found herself aimless without the money to continue her studies. She was unemployed when she heard about The Umoja Centre, and got another chance at pursuing her goal. ‘Here (at Umoja) I learned a lot of things. First of all I learned how to create my own future, because at that time I did not understand anything. I learned how to live with different people. Also you know when I completed Form 4 I did not know how to speak English like now. I used computers…a lot of things.’
‘I want to be a lawyer because I’ve experienced the problem which my mum got in raising us up. So I want to become a lawyer so I can help other women to know their rights.’
‘All my thanks to Caroline and Emma for starting the Umoja Centre because without them I could not be here,’ says Miriam. ‘Because they are the ones who are helping me. I know a lot of things through them.’