My name is Neema M. Mollel. I am the second child born out of five children in my family. I live with my parents (Mussa and Lusianna), my two brothers (Lameck and Ezekiel) and my sisters (Dines). My older sister, Dinna, is already married and lives w
My name is Neema M. Mollel. I am the second child born out of five children in my family. I live with my parents (Mussa and Lusianna), my two brothers (Lameck and Ezekiel) and my sisters (Dines). My older sister, Dinna, is already married and lives with her husband.
I have been supporting myself ever since I could remember to provide for my basic needs of food and clothing. When I was in primary school, I live away from my family and stayed with another family who was able to provide for my needs and for my schooling. Sometimes they would give me food for my family. In return, I would help around the house from cleaning, washing clothes, taking care of their young children and do errands. It was necessary for me to live away from my family if I want to live, be able to go to school and not to be married off at a young age. Currently, my sister Dines is living with a teacher and her family just to get the basic needs and schooling that I had received.
The aforementioned circumstances arise due to the economic situation of my parents. Both of them are poor and illiterate. They could not even provide for the basic needs of their children, except for shelter. We own a house which is built out of materials found in the surrounding: mud and thatched grass. They built this house a long time ago. We don't have electricity and running water. My family got the land for free since the location was in a very remote bush area of the Engaruka Village. They do not have any stable means to earn any income though sometimes, my mother does casual work like weeding in farms during the rainy season. We depend on my mother's relatives who live in high lands where rain is reliable throughout the year for our food.
Having lived in the traditional pastoralist lifestyle all their lives, my parents only know that way of life which had been passed to them for many generations. Theirs is an arranged marriage where official and legal documents are not required. With this situation, they do not have official (or any) birth certificates and/or marriage certificates. My parents do not have any official identification; they have no passports and at this time, Tanzania does not have any national identity card.
At present, my brother Lameck had already completed standard seven but did not passed the exam that would allow him to continue to secondary school. He is now living in our village and would do casual work. He is hired to fetch water for houses that are being built. He gets 100 shillings for each bucket. My other brother, Ezekiel, is living with my parents and is in standard one.
As for me, I have successfully finished Form 4 and passed the national exams that allowed me to continue to Form 5. I could have suffered the same early marriage as my sister, Dinna, who was married off at age 17, but I took the initiative to consult our village leaders rather than my relatives and elders. They know about my family's condition so they helped me get to Emusoi Centre. The center financially supports pastoralist girls like me and guided me through my entire education in secondary school. I could say that I am one of the very few Maasai girls in my village that has reached and even finished Form 4 and the first to be breaking the generations of illiteracy among my relatives. I know that in the near future my family will be depending on me to assist them, especially my parents who are getting old. For this reason, I am studying hard.
UPDATES on Neema:
She is a scholar of the African Leaders University in Mauritious. This is her last year in school.