Busara is a polite 11-year-old girl from Tanzania, who is always smiling despite having experienced an extremely difficult childhood.
When she was younger, Busara lived with her mother Leyla, a single parent. As a result of being alone and not having a stable income, they scraped by to survive constantly dealing with the daily challenges of living in poverty.
When Leyla was Busara’s age, education past primary school level had not been an option for her, so didn’t encourage her daughter to go to school. Eventually, Busara was expelled because of her poor attendance at the age of just 8.
Over the next few years, Busara would help Leyla with housework and odd jobs to support their income. But at the age of 11, she was sent away to one of the main Tanzanian cities – Arusha – to work as a housemaid.
Leyla had been promised a job for Busara there, carrying out hard manual tasks for a family, such as mopping floors with her bare hands, taking care of the younger children, washing clothes and cooking. However, after travelling over 1000km, when she finally arrived in the city there was no one to meet her.
Not knowing what to do, she stayed near the busy bus stand, fear and worry growing in her with every minute that passed. Many Tanzanian children find work carrying heavy luggage or selling small snacks to passengers coming and going from the bus station, but it is very hard work and barely provides enough money to survive. Most of these children are boys and they sleep at the station at night, where they often get introduced into drugs and sexual activity.
Busara stayed there all day and all night, a terrifying experience for any young child, particularly a girl, and could so easily have been pulled into life on the streets.
Fortunately, Hope for Children-supported street educators visit the bus stand every day to talk to the street children, giving them informal counselling and providing warm drinks, and when they arrived on this particular day they recognized that she was new and approached her. They quickly identified the danger Busara was in and invited her to stay at our night shelter.
The following day, she agreed to travel to the main centre, until she could be reconnected with her family. During her stay, Busara joined the Starters’ Class, and learned the basics of reading, writing and counting. Meanwhile, family reunification officers worked very hard to trace her relatives.
When they finally tracked down Leyla, the team worked hard to counsel the family about the importance of education until they were confident that Leyla would be more supportive. Busara was reunified with her mother in October, where her whole village came out to welcome her, previously thinking she had been lost forever.
She was so happy to learn that after her reunification that she would continue going to school. Busara is now going to a local school, and although she is still at a primary level, she is progressing well and hopes to be a nurse one day.