While Tanzania has made concerted efforts to advance women's empowerment and gender equality, young women and girls continue to face unimaginable challenges, including being subjected to gender-based violence, lack of access to age-appropriate sexual and reproductive health education and services, teenage pregnancies, and child marriages.

Learning from the experiences of Sarah and Hollo who cascade knowledge on integrated sexual and reproductive health and primary prevention of sexual violence, among other girls.

"As we are coming of age, there are a lot of challenges we face, and they place us in many uncertainties," said Sarah (12), a pupil in one of the primary schools in Mwanza City Council, Tanzania. Our bodies are changing, and sometimes, we don't have enough information relating to those changes nor skills to handle them. Some boys and men are trying to take advantage of that fact."

To address these challenges, the Adolescents and Children HIV Incidence Reduction, Empowerment and Virus Elimination (ACHIEVE) project adopted the Integrated Sexual and Reproductive Health and Primary Prevention of Sexual Violence, No Means No, and Financial Literacy curriculums as part of its DREAMS interventions. DREAMS, which stands for Determined, Resilient, Empowered, AIDS-free, Mentored, and Safe is an ambitious public-private partnership aimed at reducing rates of HIV among adolescent girls and young women (AGYW) in the highest HIV-burdened countries.

Julius Warioba is a teacher trained by ACHIEVE. He received support from the project to facilitate DREAMS sessions for adolescent girls aged 10-14, two of whom include Sarah and another adolescent girl, Hollo (11). Both Sarah and Hollo have served as ambassadors of the program by encouraging their peers to partake in the same activities that have been life-transforming for them. "Sarah and Hollo help to raise awareness among other girls who have not been part of the program," said Julius. "They also assist in linking us with pupils by bringing up their issues."

In peer education work and talk, Hollo and Sarah present courageous and determined adolescent girls on all fronts. They mobilize girls in groups and teach them essential life skills, including self-defense on the occasion of sexual assault, how to say no, HIV prevention, menstrual health, and hygiene, and how to save and budget for the money they get from their parents.

"I now have a pigyvest where I keep the little money I get," said Hollo. Through savings, haba na haba hujaza kibaba (which translates to a few coins here and there fills the piggy bank). I have been able to buy socks and shoes with my own money

"My goal is to make every girl confident enough to say no and decide for her future.” - Hollo, Project Beneficiary

Julius is proud of how his pupils' confidence have increased and how they can now openly express themselves. "Now, we receive many cases from pupils as they happen around their neighborhood," said Julius. We work with community structures to address these matters."

Hollo and Sarah continue to work toward building community awareness about the DREAMS program and want every girl in their school and neighborhood to gain from it by acquiring skills, knowledge, and self-reliance so that they can live productive lives. They believe that these skills will help them achieve their dreams and own their futures.

ACHIEVE is a five-year (2019-2024) USAID-funded global project whose primary goal is to reach and sustain HIV epidemic control among pregnant and breastfeeding women, adolescents, infants, and children. To reach this goal, ACHIEVE supports OVC and DREAMS service delivery, provides technical assistance to strengthen social welfare systems and improve service quality and reach, and supports capacity development for local partners to sustain services at the community level. ACHIEVE is implemented by Pact in partnership with Jhpiego, Palladium, No Means No Worldwide, and WI-HER.

Hollo and Sarah standing by their class corridor
Hollo and Sarah standing by their class corridor
Photo Credit: Pact/Aidan Tarimo
Tanzania Stories DREAMS Program USAID ACHIEVE