“I need to succeed with my education so I can fight poverty and my family can live a sustainable life,” says Lopoi, a 20-year-old student from the Maasai region of Monduli, one hour outside Arusha.
Lopoi is the third oldest of 19 siblings in a family that is trapped in poverty. Neither of his parents went to school and they have spent almost everything they own trying to give their children an education.
“I wish all our children could go to school but we don’t have the money,” says Lopoi’s father Kuresoi, who has 14 children under the age of 18.
“Before we had children we had 70 cows; now we only have 15. We sell cows to put (our children) in school, but we can’t sell them all or we will have nothing.”
Lopoi is a gifted scholar dedicated to becoming a doctor and helping his family.
“I studied at a government school where I was in a class with 100 students,” he says. “In government schools we face problems like a shortage of books and not enough teachers. If we got one book we shared it with at least 20 students.
“We had one chemistry teacher in the entire school, and this was a problem. But the people who wanted it enough would follow the teacher, even during the night, to ask something. It depends on your effort.”
Lopoi passed Form 4 (Grade 10) with a distinction and was rewarded for his dedication with a scholarship to St Jude’s, where he will receive an education that consistently ranks in the top 10% in Tanzania. He will also be supported through tertiary education so he can fulfil his dream of becoming a doctor.
“I am so happy today because I have been thinking about this for a long time,” Lopoi said after hearing the news. “It will change my family positively. When I get my successful education I can come back to my family. I can help them and not only the family, the society around me.”
“We will not sleep tonight,” Ngipoyoni said after hearing her son had been accepted into St Jude’s. “This is a day of celebration. My son will now get an education.”