In 2013, Lulu Kigola was among the best performers of the National Form Two examinations in Tanzania. In primary and secondary school, she was consistently earning top grades. But as the firstborn of four daughters in a poor farming village, her prospects of higher education were distant at best. With the help of a generous benefactor and volunteer teachers, Lulu has become a model of rising above limiting circumstances.
Just when she was testing for college placement, Lulu’s family couldn’t come up with her school fees, and her father asked that she return home to work with the family. “I did not want to lose such an intelligent girl because of school fees,” Headmaster Shadrack Nyaulingo said. “She had always had a dream. Commitment, hard work and discipline. She made me believe that she would succeed in her future pursuits. I knew I had to find a way to help her.”
Lulu’s potential was obvious to her teachers as well as the volunteers who taught her math and science at the poly-technical boarding school in Pommern, Tanzania. In particular, Tanzania Volunteer Deborah Pollard was impressed with career-minded students, and wanted Lulu to succeed. After they returned from their 2014 service program, she and her husband financed scholarships through Global Volunteers for two high-potential Pommern Secondary School students and one teacher training course. Lulu was one of the students selected to receive this financial assistance.
“Global Volunteers has been lightening my financial burden and enabling me to concentrate on my studies,” Lulu enthused. “Global Volunteers are kind-hearted people who have always been an inspiration to me. I really appreciate their efforts, and it’s my hope that after I finish my studies, I’ll give back to the community too.”
In this interview, we asked Lulu about her education, career plans, and hopes to one day serve the villages that supported her in her early life.
Lulu, how did you decide on medical school?
Studying medicine has been in my mind and heart since I was in primary school. I would dream what I would do as a doctor. First, I must acquire all the skills a medical personnel should have, then I wish one day I will be able to manage diseases and be capable of doing big operations with great skill. Thus, I’m doing my best to turn my long-term wish into reality, so I can help the community in the future.
Mr Shadrack Nyauringo has been influencing me to study hard, and giving a lot of technique to help in my life and school too. He has done a great work to make sure I do each and everything in perfect way. He’s been supportive in my entire education, and is the greatest person with a kind heart.
What did you enjoy most about primary and secondary school?
I loved studying science subjects. It was so exciting to see a science teacher in class, as I was so curious about biology. I enjoyed reading books, playing volleyball and games with friends. I had a lot of friends with whom I used to exchange ideas about school life and life in general. Learning from each other was a good chance for me to socialize with people of my age from different tribes and different places.
Pommern was the best place for me to build up my skills in class as we had well-trained teachers who helped me put more self efforts to make sure of good results at the end. Also. it was the place where my spiritual awareness increased as we used to have teachers (pastors) who were strong in faith, and until today, their teachings have been lighting my way.
How did you choose your medical school, and what has been your experience?
I had a chance to choose three of the best Universities that every medical student in our country dreams of. I was selected to one among those three by the Tanzania Commission for Universities. Medicine has a lot of things to study in a very short period of time, and sometimes no matter how hard you try, you find yourself out of time. I do my best no matter what because challenges are always there and we have to overcome them. The most satisfying thing is studying things I love, and this gives me passion. I find my self eager to know more about medicine and reading books just to feed my brain with something new every day.
Where would you like to work after you graduate?
I will first go for internship training in my last year of practice at a hospital, which is more equipped and where most surgeries are performed. After that, I will be more confident to work anywhere else as long as I will be capable of reaching community needs. I am always look forward and praying, as I know I’m nothing without God, therefore I put Him first in whatever I’m doing.
Your parents must be very proud of you.
My parents feel so blessed as I’m in medical school. They are very proud to see me growing and moving forward day by day – especially my mother, as she had the same dream for herself. She couldn’t pay her collage fees after her father died, and so she had a wish that one day somebody would fill the gap. I do thank God that I’m about to fulfill her wish.
What advice do you have for other village girls who’d like a medical career?
My advice is medicine is good when you have passion for it, because reaching a goal of studying medicine means you have to work hard, sacrifice your time, and commit yourself in studying without forgetting to pray harder. Each and everything is possible – but only when you work for it with a positive attitude. My own dreams for my home village and country is I hope one day I will be able to help less fortunate people – especially students and children – fulfill their dreams.
Pommern Secondary School Headmaster Shadrack Nyaulingo says,”Lulu is a role model to many girls at my school who think science is hard. I always tell them to follow the footsteps of Lulu,” he says. “She knows very well how Global Volunteers has helped her in her academic journey, and wants to pay this forward by saving peoples’ lives.” He encourages her to serve at the Ipalamwa General Clinic for Global Volunteers’ Reaching Children’s Potential Program. “I know she’ll become one of the best doctors of surgery in our country,” he asserts. “She has what it takes to be that.”