Lativa's dream comes true: Achieving higher education for her children
Lativa Ibrahim is a 43 year old, single mother of four. She lives in Kilimatembo village, Tanzania with her children and her aging mother, Elizabeth. Her eldest daughter Kalista is 20 years old, followed by her only son Efraim, who is 16 and her two youngest children Rahel and Bertha.
Lativa has always dreamed of giving her children the chance to complete secondary school but has been constrained by her ability to pay school fees. The fees to attend a good high school are often prohibitive as was the case for Lativa and her family.
Lativa wanted to use the land her mother owned to farm produce. She wanted to sell the yield for profit in order to pay her children's school fees. In 2010, she joined in the Mama jiendelezeFarmer Field School, which when translated means “mother/woman take initiative for your development”. In her first season, she produced a maize yield of 10 bags per acre. Using techniques she learned at her Farmer Field School, she inter-cropped her maize with pigeon peas and in the same season she also harvested nine bags of pigeon peas.
"The first move I made after such a large yield, was to transfer my daughter from a ward secondary school to a better boarding school. I sold pigeon peas and I was able to cover all the costs involved in the transfer and to pay the fees for a better government school. My daughter is now doing her advanced secondary studies in one of the biggest girls’ secondary school in Tanzania," explained Lativa.
With many of the Farmer Field School group members producing higher crop yields, Lativa and her colleagues decided to begin contributing to a communal savings scheme in the form of a village community banking association or VICOBA. They decided that after selling their crops they would set aside a percentage of their earnings to contribute to the savings program every two weeks. Soon the group members were able to begin accessing loans from their VICOBA. Lativa received a loan which she used to pay for her son's school fees.
Lativa’s dream is to make sure that her children are educated at the university level. She was only able to obtain a primary school education but says, "I have seen the value of educating children and I will make sure that my children get what they need to do better in school. Before, it was very challenging for me, I thought my dream would not be fulfilled. What I have learned from my Farmer Field School group will continue to help me provide for my family and make sure my children receive higher education."
In the most recent cropping season, Lativa improved her harvest to an average of 16 bags of maize and 11 bags of pigeon peas per acre. She is planning to use a loan from the VICOBA to buy two acres of land in the nearby sub-village to further increase crop production. She will pay back the money after harvesting the crops from this season.
As a member of the Farmer Field School group Lativa has benefited in other ways as well. In addition to learning improved farming techniques she has learned how to improve sanitation and hygiene in her home and has recently built a nice toilet facility for her family.