McMaster extended her stay in Tanzania by three months at the orphanage and started planning the children’s future.
Over the next few years McMaster, now 24, shuttled back and forth between the UK and Tanzania, teaching herself Swahili and using her own money to sponsor 50 children to go to school – all while studying for her degree at the School of Oriental and African Studies in London.
She launched a charity, Street Children Iringa, and began to fundraise back home in Kent, raising £4,000 in her first year. The money helped to pay for mosquito nets, school fees, uniforms and medicines.
In 2016 the orphanage was condemned by the council and the children scattered, either back to the streets or to distant family.
Eight children were left behind and McMaster spent her summer holiday battling Tanzanian bureaucracy as she sought approval to set up a home for them.
“Those in charge made it incredibly difficult. They’d tell me to write a letter, and then say I had to write it again. They’d tell me I needed to go to a different office, where I’d then be sent back to the first. There was a lot of waiting,” she says.
She rented a six-bedroom house and at the end of September 2016 she received a call that would change her life – McMaster was now the children’s legal guardian.