As told to Adriana Ermter
Photography by Terence Babb
There are 12 people in my family, my mom and dad and 10 children. I'm the youngest. I'm 12 years old. The first-born is my brother Salum and he's married. My two sisters are also married. They don't live at home with us anymore, but my two youngest brothers do. On the weekends, my entire family works on a farm cultivating the ground so that we can plant maize and beans. This is how we make money. But I know my role in the family. I'm a girl, so I have to wash the dishes, clean the house and fetch the water every single day. My brothers only have to work on the farm. There are some houses where the boys support the girls, but in my house they don't.
I have to fetch the water every morning. I've been fetching the water since I was seven years old. I'm lucky because it only takes me five minutes to walk to the water well—it's at the neighbour's farm and the water is free. I collect five buckets and each one is 20 litres. I can only carry one bucket back to my house at a time because it's so heavy. It's very hard for me and I don't like doing it. Sometimes I trip and the water spills and then I have to go back to the well and start all over again. I'm getting stronger now, so this doesn't happen as much.
In school, we're learning that boys and girls must respect and support each other so that all of the work isn't done by just one person. The boys don't believe it. My brother is 14 years old and he goes to the same school as me and he won't even help me fetch one bucket of water. Our teachers show us how to behave differently and we even play games that teach us about equality, but the boys copy what their older brothers and fathers do. When I ask my parents for my brother's help they say "no, this is for girls." It's not right and very unfair that I have to do everything because I am a girl.
I cry about this. Sometimes when this happens, I think about the life skills my teacher taught me in school. We play a game called "Hope, Hope, Joy." It teaches me how I can achieve my goals and overcome challenges, like having to do more work than boys, by encouraging teamwork and awareness among my family. This empowers me to talk to my mom and dad when my brothers aren't treating me like their equal and explain to them why boys can help girls do their work and vice versa. It also enables me to take charge of my emotions by replacing feelings of unhappiness with feelings of hope and peace because I know my actions are creating change. I'm teaching my family this and everything else I'm learning in school.
I love going to school. I want to become a sports teacher when I am older. I'm the sixth smartest person in my class and five out of the top six students are girls. There are more than 100 children in my class. I can also run faster than boys and I'm stronger than boys. When I grow up I will teach my children what my teachers taught me: how to support one other. And when the children have to fetch the water, if there are six buckets I will divide the buckets so that the boy has to carry three and the girl has to carry three. If one child washes the dishes on one day, the other child will have to do it the next day.
I believe boys and girls are the same. Boys can fetch water just like me.
To Play's Play for the Advancement of Quality Education (PAQE) programming
launched in 2015 in eight countries with financial support from the Government
of Canada provided through Global Affairs Canada. In Tanzania, Rwanda and
Mozambique, PAQE is further supported by the
LEGO Foundation and uses Right To Play's play-based approach to improve learning
outcomes for children and youth aged 2 -15 years through a sustainable and
replicable child-centered, play-based learning model.