Langeram finished her primary education in 2010 at Olkokola Primary School in Arusha, Tanzania, the same city where she was born. She then proceeded to St. Mark’s Secondary School in Dar es Salaam city where she finished her ordinary level education majoring in science. But hers has not been an easy ride; she had to be tenacious to reach a point where she is counted among a bevy of young budding women scientists her country is proud of today.
Currently, Lengarama runs Timiza Ndoto Initiative, an entity she founded with the help of a friend. The primary objective of the initiative is to inspire girls and young women to unlock their potential in STEM. Timiza and Ndoto are Swahili words which mean, ‘achieve” and “dream” respectively.
The project operates by visiting secondary schools to inspire young girls mostly aged between 14 -18 to study science subjects. Lengaram says to date they have inspired more girls in several schools around Dar er Salaam and most of them are pursuing science combinations at their high schools while some of them are at universities studying science courses.
Although Lengaram obtained outstanding results in science, her family, guardian and peers dissuaded her from pursuing the science stream and majoring in physics, chemistry and biology, popularly known as (PCB) at tertiary level.
Not only did this devastate her but it also put paid to her dream of a medical doctor. She was told that, as a girl, she would not cope with the academic rigour and demands of the tertiary education.
New stream of subjects
As a result of the amount of pressure exerted on her, Lengaram was compelled to enroll for History, Kiswahili and Language (HKL) combination in A-level at Ngara Secondary School where she completed her high school education. “Poor me, I failed to trust and believe in myself and allowed other people’s words to decide my academic study by prescribing what to study and major in at advanced level,” recalls Lengaram sadly. With her HKL combination Lengaram enrolled for an undergraduate degree in Bachelor of Social Work at the University of Dar es salaam where she graduated in in 2020.
But her desire to pursue the sciences was not extinguished in her and she was keen to revive it. While studying at the University of Dar es Salaam, she had an idea of inspiring and motivating young girls in STEM especially in secondary schools.
“As a girl who was discouraged from studying science in high school, I was very passionate to be a game-changer by showing people that girls are capable of doing well in science subjects just as boys do. I didn’t want any other girl who aspires to have a career in science field to fail just because of what people or society wrongly say or believe as it was case with me. I wanted to change the narrative, to inspire and transform girl’s mindset and attitude towards STEM,” Lengaram says.
All I want to do, she says, is to help girls to believe in themselves and that they can be anything they wish to be and to do in the world.
Lengaram’s passion about promoting gender issues dates back to her high school days when she was a member of the school gender club. She combined this experience and her qualification as a social worker to tackle gender equality issues in different aspects in the society. This includes changing the perception in the society that boys are more superior to girls especially in STEM.
One of the main challenges Lengaram faced was the lack of financial support for her initiative to facilitate our programs. “I remember we used university stipends to support our project, and it took us almost two years operating as a campaign until last year when we secured official and full registration from the Tanzanian government,” she says.
Another challenge is lack of resources for demonstrations of science and ICT projects as most schools don’t have laboratory apparatus and computer labs. This makes it difficult for them to perform some inspiring experiments and sessions that make students to feel that science is fun sometimes.
Lengaram says the highlight of her project so far is receiving different awards and honorary recognition for their “revolutionary work of inspiring young girls in science”. She says this is a significant achievement considering her project has just been launched. She says through partnership with other stakeholders which aligns with their mission and vision, she hopes to receive more accolades.
Lengaram’s message to fellow women and future generation is:
- if you want to do something, commitment is the key
- despite, the challenges that may come your way
- be persistent and do not give up easily
- good things take time; therefore, you should be consistent in doing something
- take to heart the saying that, “If you want to go fast go alone, but if you want to go far go together”.
- team work is the best way to make things done easier and
- having a good team and working together by sharing ideas and bringing efforts together is the easiest way to fulfill the set goals or objectives.