Lyra in Africa
1953. Maria Spink
Maria Spink, from Buckinghamshire, founded her charity ‘Lyra In Africa’ in 2012 after working in the Southern Highlands of Tanzania and seeing the plight of child brides and unwanted teenage pregnancies, with many girls in rural areas missing out on education and forced into such situations due to a lack of financial independence.
After consulting extensively with women in the community and village elders on how to help girls secure education, Maria set up the charity to provide hostels which could offer safe accommodation for girls whilst completing their studies at school, as well as providing them with greater financial literacy to enable them to also be self-sufficient. There are now 13 Lyra’s Hostels built by the charity in government ward secondary schools where there is a need, which have provided accommodation for over 2,500 girls and allowed them to fully attend school. Maria has also launched further programmes including a digital learning scheme which has seen four computer labs installed and 130 tablets across seven rural schools, and a youth entrepreneurship course, Imarika Kijana, which is helping to create new opportunities for youth aged 15 to 28 who have dropped out of school or have limited employment options.
“It is a tremendous boost and means a lot to me to know that the work put in by the Lyra team to give girls in rural Tanzania their fundamental right to education is being recognised. Educating girls is the best investment we can make. A big thank you to the person who nominated me.”