Prisca gives her Kids a Chance She Didn’t Get

Prisca gives her Kids a Chance She Didn’t Get

In Tanzania, individual transformation leads to long-term community impact

Prisca grew up in a Tanzanian household that valued education, but limited resources kept her from progressing beyond primary school. What she learned later in life, however, has made all the difference.

Married at 17, she moved with her husband to his village and trod a traditional path for women in her area: raising her family of six children and attending group meetings in her community. 

In 2005, she used money earned from a job as a local election monitor to grow and sell vegetables. She didn’t realize then how deeply a different seed would take root — or what she would ultimately harvest as a result.

Two years later, a neighbor told her about a CARE project called WAGE - Women and Girls’ Empowerment and about Village Savings and Loans Associations (VSLAs). From her gardening experience, she already recognized how early seed money can power economic opportunities in her life.

Fully engaged in both programs, it wasn’t long before she brought a VSLA to her village — and was appointed its chairwoman. Prisca quickly began to train other VSLA groups and participated in various workshops to build skills, which she in turn passed along to other members, mostly women.

All of this improved my confidence and leadership skills. I was no longer the quiet, submissive wife, but an active facilitator and career woman who had confidence and could speak in public.

- Prisca  

Her VSLA leadership sparked a transition from business woman and trainer to political leader. But she wasn’t alone. Of the more than 30,000 women participating in VLSA activities, one-third were involved in local politics as councilors, chairs of villages or hamlets, leaders of school committees or water committees or conflict resolution committees or as officials in a political party.

Not only is Prisca now an empowered leader in her community, but she sees how engaging other women and girls has changed their own perceptions about the roles of women, as well as the larger community’s perception.  “People now have a positive attitude towards women standing up for their rights in public,” said Prisca, who has harnessed her new-found confidence and leadership qualities to ensure that her children have more educational opportunities than she had. 

While Prisca didn’t move past primary school, she has made sure that all six of her children attend school, in spite of her husband’s being initially reluctant to send them.  

Prisca’s story is powerful, her leadership transformative. Even as she ensured an education for her own kids, her engagement with other moms has helped ensure an education for theirs, too.

And those are the seeds of a lasting change.