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Mara always had an interest in science and biology. To her, medicine was like society’s circulatory system — it was the heartbeat that kept the world alive.
Mara wanted to get out of her comfort zone and experience a new culture, so she went to Tanzania to help build a school. When she got home, she connected with Youthfully so that she could explore ways to apply her passions and make a difference in the world.
Over several months, Mara and her coach explored her interest in pediatrics and medicine, discussed her values and experiences, and started thinking about a plan for her future based on her aspirations and goals. Through dedicated reflection and inquiry based coaching during her coaching calls, Mara realized that her trip to Tanzania was so meaningful and changed her as a person.
One thing that kept coming up during her coaching calls was Mara’s disbelief that female Tanzanian students didn’t always attend school because they had to stay home to do household chores, while many other children missed school because they were sick with illnesses that were easily preventable. Her discussions with her coach revealed that there was a great opportunity to start a project that would make a real difference.
Over the next few weeks, Mara and her coach connected several times a month via telephone, text, and email and they brainstormed some project ideas for ways that Tanzanian children could learn about medicine, hygiene, and common illnesses.
“I wanted to level ‘playing field’ to give all children their best chance by eliminating easily preventable diseases that prevent them from attending school.”
Mara’s coach helped her come up with the idea to combine her passion for healthcare, literature, and social equality and develop a children’s book that breaks down everyday medical illnesses in an entertaining, simple, and scientifically accurate way.
Her coach talked about his favorite show as a child, the Magic School Bus, which did a great job of depicting basic human physiology in a fun way. He used this as a reference for Mara and asked her questions to help her craft a unique story of her own.
Over the next few weeks, they developed a unique storyline that follows a young girl in a small Tanzanian town. She uses a stone she got from her grandmother that can zoom in on what’s going on inside the body. Each chapter is dedicated to a different issue and talks about how common illnesses affect the body, how they are spread, and how they can be prevented.
The best part? Young girls would be able to read and learn from home, even if they weren’t able to go to school, and the female protagonist showed them that they could also pursue medicine if they wanted to.
“In writing a book, I realized that girls helping out at home will not necessarily be able to read it. However, by having other educated members of the community, such as brothers, read it to the girls they can obtain a basic level of first aid education without having to step foot in the classroom.”
After countless hours of hard work, Mara finished her book, and she worked closely with her coach to edit and perfect it. At the same time, her coach supported her in thinking about different setbacks and scenarios that would limit her from achieving her goal with her finished book, like how to get it translated and distributed to schools.
To get the book translated to Swahili, her coach helped guide Mara every step of the way. They used UpWork, a freelance hiring platform, and her coach helped her develop a job post, interview candidates, and hire a translator. For the illustrations, Mara worked with her former art teacher and a student in her old high school.
One of Mara’s biggest challenges was figuring out how to get enough money to print her book. With her coach’s help, she started a GoFundMe campaign, held a major fundraising event, and got donations from her peers, family members, and local community. In the end, she raised over $2,600!
For distribution, her coach had a contact who ran a network of primary schools in Tanzania, Krupa Patel, the CEO of Silverleaf Academy, Africa’s first chain of affordable, quality primary schools. Joel helped her craft an email pitch to have her book distributed through Krupa’s schools — and she said yes!
Over 500 copies have already been sent, and more are on their way!
To find ways to get her book to even more children, her coach used his network again to put Mara in touch with the Kenyan government so it would be distributed to schools in Kenya. Mara is in discussions with the Kenyan Institute of Curriculum Development and The School of St. Jude to reach her goal of 10,000 books by 2022.
“Although this project is in no way the final solution to equitable access to education and basic medicine, it is a small step in the right direction. I believe that in order to create a more inclusive world, youth need to be given equal opportunities to learn and reach their potential. If we can give mobile phones and internet access to the poorest socio-economic groups in the world, there is no excuse not to deliver them basic education as well.”
This project has inspired Mara to continue helping those who have not been given the same opportunities as us. In the future, she plans to raise more money to send more copies of her book to other Tanzanian schools and organizations that help children with little access to education. She also plans on using her interest in medicine to one day partake in Doctors Without Borders and provide direct aid to less privileged communities.
In addition to this amazing project, Mara worked with her coach to achieve success in other areas. She secured an internship at a medical centre, got to the final rounds of a competitive accelerated medical route program, and won a scholarship at a prominent US-based pre-med program.
Working to become a pediatrician, Mara attended Université de Montréal pre-med and is starting medical school there in Fall 2021.
Mara’s journey shows that anything is possible when you set your mind to it. By working with one of our coaches, you’ll get access to constant support and guidance so that you can identify and execute goals and achieve things you never thought possible.
Connect with a Youthfully coach and start your journey today!