We all have the potential to change the world

Elieshiupendo M. Niccodem, 23, has been a part of Tanzania Girl Guides Association since 2014. Last week she travelled to Switzerland for the Helen Storrow Seminar at Our Chalet. The seminar gives young women the skills and inspiration to make their voices heard at community and national level to help make the world a more sustainable place.

I grew up in Morogoro, the agricultural heartland of Tanzania. After high school, I went to Hubert Kairuki Memorial University in the city Dar es Salaam, where I am now studying medicine.

To some families it's a pride for their daughter to become a doctor. For others it’s shameful. These jobs are considered to be for men. Girls are taught to be tough and responsible, so they can take care of their families. "A woman belongs in the kitchen," say villagers. "How can you take care of your family if you are a doctor?"

Helen Storrow 2017 - Eshi

Education: the only way out

For my parents and for many others in Tanzania, education was hard to access. My mother and father could not go to school until their parents sold the coffee they grew. If their coffee didn’t sell, they stayed at home. It was a hard life and that’s why my parents always told me: "Education is the only way out. To have a good life, go to school, study science, get a job and get paid.”

In Tanzania, it is common to grow up believing extra curricular activities are a waste of time and that education must come first. However that changed when I was introduced to Girl Guiding and Girl Scouting in my second year of university. Although education is still a priority, Guiding has provided a different skillset and another way of looking at life. It has taught me that there's nothing as beautiful as being who you're supposed to be and so much more!

A new challenge

The Helen Storrow Seminar in Switzerland was a great opportunity to develop my confidence, build a range of skills and try different activities. I want to share how it felt to really challenge myself on a visit we took to the adventure park near Our Chalet. I had never seen snow before, except on television. I did not know what lay ahead for the trip, but I was excited. I was excited it had snowed, excited to spend time with new people and excited to be challenged. But I had fears too… What if I couldn’t make it? What if the challenges were too tough for me?

At the park we had to slide along wires and walk on ropes and jump off a high bridge! But before anything we had to be instructed what to do. After some training I felt ready. I wanted to be on the wire, on the ropes, on the bridge. But there were steps I had to take first. There were five stations and I could see some of my friends already on the higher wires. I badly wanted to follow them. But I didn’t. I stayed there waiting my turn; waiting to start the adventure. It can be hard to watch your friends so far ahead of you – off having fun but in the end I completed every part of the course. I went through all of the high-wire stations, and slid on the highest zip wire. The activity taught me a lot. Life is a process. It has steps to follow and there is no way you can take a short cut. Some paths are clear while others feel so messy that you can’t see a way out. Life is meant to be a mystery, a process, a journey to be enjoyed. Just like me waiting to zipwire, you have to go through every station. 

Helen Storrow 2017 - SDGs

Becoming a leader

Since I joined Girl Guiding, I have not been the same! It has become a door to many opportunities in my life, a window where I can see the other side of the world. When I was young, I felt to be a leader I must have a certain position or role, but guiding taught me that we are all leaders regardless of position. We are a family with the same goal of making the world a better place. I want to encourage more women and girls to join Girl Guiding, because it will help them understand their potential to change the world!

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