Our students mostly come from Arusha, but others from as far as Mwanza in the north and Iringa in the south. They heard about the programme offered at The Umoja Centre via relatives in Arusha and have moved here for their education.
We do not discriminate against students due to a lack of education. All are welcome. Last year (2009) we had two students who began in April, both of whom were illiterate in English and Kiswahili. Five months after enrollment they were able to read and write in both languages. Both girls committed themselves to an extra two hours of study each day and both had 100% attendance rates.
In the selection process we assess for a students motivation, commitment and attitude towards their education. Our students are extremely focused, motivated and eager to learn. All deserve this opportunity.
Often these young people have left education at the end of Primary School due to the financial costs of attending Secondary School, and have had few opportunities since. Many of our students have simply had no work or further education since leaving Primary School. A few have found casual work, with a small and unstable income; others are house girls (live-in maids) with little hope of future alternative employment. All of these deserving young people live on less than a dollar a day.
Several of the young women who attend the centre have been forced to leave school due to teenage pregnancy. Their families sometimes takes care of the children, but the young mothers are outcast due to the shame they bring to their families. Many of our students are orphans.
All of our students come from a background of extreme poverty often coupled wtih other issues such as alcoholism, domestic violence and broken families.
All of these young people have found an opportunity for education, independence, awareness and the prospect of a stable income and a brighter future through The Umoja Centre.