There is renewed hope for Flora Julius, her life will never be the same after she attended a special training on entrepreneurship. She can now make batik (tie and dye), soap and detergents.

The 20-year-old is a resident of Nkende village in Tarime District, Mara Region. She is one of the 60 young women who benefited from four-days training held at a hotel in Tarime town recently.

"We have learnt many things including making batik, tie and dye and soap. We are now ready to go to business" Ms Julius remarked shortly after the training. Her similar words were echoed by several other participants interviewed by this news paper.

The training was organised recently by Children's Dignity Forum (CDF), a local Non-Governmental Organization under an ambitious project called Mobilising Action to Safeguard the Rights of Girls in Tanzania phase two.

Good news is that besides the training, the beneficiaries will be provided with small loans ready to embark on batik and soap making business, thanks to whoever is supporting the initiative.

"The participants will be given interest-free small loans to help establish income generating groups, " CDF Project Manager at Tarime Office Ms Kambibi Kamugisha said.

 CDF is implementing a wide range of projects aimed at ending Female Genital Mutilation (FGM), child marriage and teenage pregnancies in Mara Region with Tarime District being the most targeted area.

The beneficiaries of the project, according to Ms Kambibi are victims of FGM, child marriage, teenage pregnancies as well as those living in difficult conditions. It targets young women aged between 18 and 24 from five wards of Tarime district namely Matongo, Susuni, Mwema, Manga and Nkende.

The project, Ms Kambibi said is jointly implemented by CDF and FORWARD UK under the sponsorship of Comic Relief and Sigrid Rausing Trust, also from UK. Apart from engaging in income generating activities, the participants promised to stand firm in backing the on-going campaigns designed to stop FGM and child marriage in their villages .

"We are very grateful to the organisers of the training and we will also continue to educate girls to stop FGM and child marriage" said Elizabeth Joseph, another beneficiary. The training was provided by experts from Mara Regional Small Industry Development Organization (SIDO).

Mara Regional Manager Mrs Frida Mungulu commended the new initiative by CDF to provide the young women with loans and urged the beneficiaries to make good use of the opportunity to improve their living standard.

 She said some people who have been getting such trainings have been failing to start any business due to lack of capital.

"I congratulate you (participants) for turning up to participate in this training and I thank CDF for coming up with the idea of small loans.

We now expect to see many batik and soap industries here" the SIDO regional boss said. In addition to batik, tie and dye and soaps making, the participants were further equipped with business recording and marketing skills.

Mrs Mungulu urged the young women to make good use of the opportunity in transforming their lives. "This is a great opportunity, work hard and become role models. We (SIDO) will be your guardian and we will give you full cooperation" she said.

She also observed since that the project beneficiaries are youth they stand to benefit from other opportunities provided by other development stakeholders including the government if they will set a good example in running their projects.

 Speaking on the same occasion Tarime District Council Community Development Officer Mr Victor Kabuje urged the young women to form income generating groups and promised to give them full cooperation.

"Our desire is to see changes in the community. Use the available opportunities to improve your living standards", Mr Kabuje said. He said CDF is doing a commendable job that supplements on-going efforts made by the fifth phase government to improve living conditions of people.

He expressed optimism that the project will help to inspire development of women in one of the districts rated as having an alarming rate of Gender Based Violence (GBV) acts.

In a bid to create more business opportunities for women, authorities in Tarime have opened a gender desk at the Tanzania/ Kenyan Sirari border to enable women conduct crossborder business smoothly.

"Tarime should be a business opportunity and aim to enable women operate at the border without obstacles" the official said. He also called for zero tolerance against FGM acts in the district.

FGM is said to be the source of child marriage and school drop-outs among school girls. The harmful cut is illegal according to the laws of the country.

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