Arafa Salimu currently attends the Hawthorne Valley School in Ghent, NY.
Arafa grew up in Babati, Tanzania in a home without electricity or without running water. Without running water, girls might spend upwards of six hours per day fetching water for a household. In a culture where most girls drop out of public school before reaching secondary school to help do chores, take care of siblings, or be married off, Arafa, encouraged by her family, pursued her education, traveling 7 miles to school and back each day and achieving enough success to rank seventh in her class.
What makes it especially difficult for girls to reach secondary school is the obstacle posed by the Tanzanian National Examinations. Through rigorous studying and limited resources, Arafa passed the National Examinations. With the dream of attending college in the United States, Arafa sought to interview at the Hawthorne Valley School in New York. She was helped by fellow student Ali Reinhold with her application and interview and Karen Wade Cavanaugh with her visa and other paperwork. In 2013, a dream came true and Arafa was on her way to the United States.
Now wrapping up 9th grade, Arafa is carrying through with her dream. She is becoming more proficient in English by the day. Her ultimate goal is to succeed to the point where she can go back to Babati to help other girls receive the same education she is improbably obtaining now.