Last weekend I spoke at ‘Binti Sayuni’ (Daughters of Zion), a ministry to girls run by one of the student fellowship leaders at St John’s, Lizzy. It’s her personal ministry rather than coming under the umbrella of the chaplaincy but I think it’s fantastic and am keen to support her. In the lead up to preparing my talk, I had the opportunity to speak with Lizzy about her ministry. She’s studying a Masters in Business Administration and so is older than the undergrads who make up most of the students at St John’s: she’s about my age, married with 2 kids.
Why did you start Binti Sayuni?
Lizzy said that she read in the Bible that older women should teach the younger ones but she doesn’t think this happens very well in Tanzania. Mothers and other family members teach girls about women’s roles and how to do them (cooking, cleaning, looking after children, doing business, etc) but they are less forthcoming when it comes to teaching the bigger picture stuff: self-confidence, shaping your life around living for Christ, how relationships work, etc. Lizzy sees a real need for this kind of teaching.
So if this is not something parents are that good at teaching, how did you learn these things?
Lizzy said she had a teacher while she was doing her A levels (like year 11-12) who had lots of boys in his class and took a special interest in girls, in a good, non-creepy kind of way. He really built her up and helped her to realise her potential.
How did you start Binti Sayuni?
It began back in 2005 while Lizzy was doing her undergrad in her home region of Kilimanjaro. She paid for a radio ad to say there was a seminar coming up but because the guy who ran the radio program was lazy, she ended up having a preaching ministry on the radio show as well! There was a lull in her ministry when she was pregnant with her first child. Now that she lives in Dodoma and studies at St John’s, she started Binti Sayuni here in October of last year.
What do you want girls to learn when they come to Binti Sayuni?
Lizzy wants girls to learn to shape their lives around God’s way, and that this is the best way to live. Girls often feel helpless or powerless, and there are many men waiting to prey on them. They need to be strong if they are to resist this. Lizzy wants to give them the confidence, skills and Christian grounding to go forward in life and to form healthy relationships.
What are some of the challenges facing Binti Sayuni?
Funding is a big one. Currently Lizzy pays the costs of the seminars herself because she does not want to charge a fee in case girls get the wrong message about that. She wants to make it as easy as possible for them to come. Another challenge is finding people to partner with and pray for the ministry.
Tamie Davis is an Aussie living in Tanzania, writing at meetjesusatuni.com.