Scolastica is an incredibly smart 13 year old who is motivated to become a pediatrician. She says this is because she sees many sick babies in her village and it “makes her feel pain to see them sick.” She also had a younger sister that died as a baby, which contributes to her wanting to be a pediatrician. Her favorite subject is science and when I asked her about her favorite topics she said “changes of matter and malnutrition.” She lives with her mother and step-father who are both very sick with a terminal illness. Her step-father farms on someone else’s land and her mother cleans houses when they can. Her home life is incredibly dismal. We visited her house – she sleeps on a mattress with her sister and brother on the floor of their tiny, dark room living room (it’s about the size of most people’s bathrooms). Scolastica is consistently a top student and her report card is almost exclusively A’s with only a few B’s over the past 3 years.
Scolastica has only one notebook for school that was given to her by a teacher. The school also gives her pens. The school would often send her home to collect school fees and she would miss several days of school until her mother was able to beg for enough money that the school would let her return (this is common practice in Tanzania). Despite often missing chunks of school from lack of school fees, she has never dropped below being #2 in her class, and is sometimes #1. During our interview with her, when asked what she would do if given 10,000 shillings (which is like $6), she said she would first ask whose it is but if it wasn’t anyone’s she would use it to buy school supplies. When asked what she would do in the future if she became a successful pediatrician, she replied that she would build a hospital in her community to treat babies.