Thank you for supporting Women's Global Education Project and our Sisters-to-School program in Senegal! Your support helps WGEP provide critical scholarships to more than 300 girls in rural Senegal, girls who otherwise would not have the chance to go to school.
One of these scholars is 15-year-old Christine. Christine has been a WGEP scholar since she was in grade school. Your support over the years has helped Christine do well academically, finish elementary school, and move into middle school. Christine shares her story here in her own words:
Hi, my name is Christine and I am 15 years old. I have participated in the “Our Sisters to School” program in Sokone, Senegal since 2005. I started as an elementary school student and I am now in middle school.
My family was always supportive of education, but the closest school was 5 kilometers away since my village, Santhie Berra, did not have a school. Also, my parents did not have the means to pay the required enrollment fees for me to attend school. It was at the time when I was becoming very worried about my future that I learned I had been chosen as a WGEP scholar. Now, I live in Sokone with my grandmother and attend a private school. Since becoming a scholar, I have received enrollment fees, school supplies, toiletries, tutoring, training and advising.
My family appreciates the program because they know that I couldn’t attend school without it. My whole family benefits from the knowledge I gain in the workshops; I explain everything to them when I return from the village, and I do the same thing with the other girls in my village. This means that the whole village knows about the program; we love it and we hope that it continues and helps other girls from Santhie Berra.
Each day, I do my schoolwork first, but then I do housework, such as sweeping, cooking, and laundry. I also have fun talking with my friends. I often talk with my mom, like my Sisters to School mentor recommends.
Two of these girls are Mary, 9, and Ndeye, who is in high school. Mary lacks a support system at home, but through WGEP’s Sisters-to-School, has found a tutor and mentor in fellow WGEP scholar Ndeye. Mary shares their story in her own words:
"My name is Mary and I am 9 years old. I have participated in the “Sisters to School” program in Senegal since 2012. Where I come from, many girls lack the opportunity to go to school. Girls are expected to stay home and maintain the household while boys go to school. I live with my sister, who is illiterate, her husband and their young children. One day a few years ago, while doing some shopping for my sister’s mother-in-law, I met the WGEP Senegal Project Director. She told me I should go to school, but I knew it would be difficult to convince my family. Fortunately, she came and talked to my sister and her husband. She told them I could receive a scholarship to go to school and they agreed that I could go.
I want to stay in school, but I am worried that I will be forced to leave. My father does not want me in school; he does not understand how an education can be valuable for a girl. Every time I go home, he threatens to pull me out of school. Not only am I afraid of losing my education, I also fear being forced into an early marriage, which is a common practice here. The elders do not understand that I have schoolwork to do, so they constantly demand that I do various tasks for them. I have to work very hard to complete my schoolwork after finishing all of my chores each day.
One thing that has helped me greatly is having a mentor. My mentor and tutor is a high school student and fellow WGEP scholar named Ndeye. She lets me study and do my homework at her house since my sister’s house is too small and crowded to provide good study conditions. I talk to Ndeye about schoolwork as well as my concerns for my health and future. My mother and sister do not understand my concerns, so Ndeye has become like a mother to me.
I like studying, so I want to stay in school so that one day I can become an important person. I want to show my father that a girl can support her family."
Thank you for supporting Women's Global Education Project and our Sisters-to-School program in Senegal! Your support helps WGEP provide critical scholarships to more than 150 girls in rural Senegal, girls who otherwise would not have the chance to go to school. You are also helping us impact 3,000 of their family members, friends and neighbors, ensuring that entire communities are invested in the future of their girls.
To illustrate the power of education to change lives, we share the personal story of one of our recent graduates, written in her own words:
My name is Amy, and I am 20 years old. I entered the “Sisters-to-School” program in 2005 when I was in elementary school, and I am now finished with high school. My parents live off weak agricultural harvests that are insufficient for feeding the family. Our house is entirely made out of mud, which is not very solid and doesn’t hold up well in strong rainstorms. My village has an elementary school; although children go, girls often leave school very early and are confronted by many problems. I help my parents in the fields and with cooking; I do everything that villagers do. But now this doesn’t keep me from passing the high school graduation test with good scores.
I had a hard time understanding classes, and my family had a lack of means to pay for school supplies and classes. I work as a housekeeper during vacation to earn a bit of money to bring to my family and to prepare for the upcoming school year. When my mother had twins, there was no one to help her with them. So that year, she almost asked me to give up my studies to help her. I was walking 8 kilometers a day to go to high school, without eating from morning until the nighttime. It was a very difficult year of high school.
Fortunately, my mother heard a presentation by teachers and understood the importance of education. The “Sisters- to-School” program educated our parents so that we could find tutors in Sokone, and came to our aid in many ways. I received trainings, counseling, and advising. The program paid for my medications when I was sick. Tutoring helped me to better understand my classes, particularly classes like French and Spanish, for which I received high scores on my high school exams.
I will soon be attending college education. I will make the education of my daughter a priority because education is the key to success in life. I want to continue my studies through a PhD. My dream is to succeed and get a good job to help my parents out of poverty and suffering. I especially want to participate in the development of my country. I dream that this can become a reality!
With your help, Women’s Global Education Project is able to get out into rural communities and influence local perception pertaining to girls’ education, which is a vital component to achieving gender equality and advancing opportunities for girls. Reports show that between December 2013 and March 2013, our community education talks and seminars reached approximately 1800 people in Senegal. Sixty community talks and seminars were organized in 30 different locations. We’re thrilled with the level of outreach achieved as of March, and we’re confident we’ll see continued success in forthcoming reports detailing the remainder of this year!
Outreach event themes are centered around the importance of girls education, and discussions have pertained to keeping girls in school; relief for domestic and agricultural work; early marriage and pregnancy; violence against women; the importance of civil status and identification papers for children; and the issue of recurrent strikes within the Senegalese education system. Key people present for these conversations have included the presidents of the rural communities of Djilor and Toubacouta; the presidents of the associations of parents of students; the heads of the villages; the imams of the villages visited; the presidents of the Collectives of School Directors; school principals; the chairman of the Departmental Committee for the Promotion of Teachers of Education of Girls; those responsible for gender evaluation in schools; teachers; village health workers; and more.
The outreach meetings conclude with testimonies of satisfaction from the girls, parents, tutors and mentors. Meeting facilitators also report increased engagement of girls and their parents as a result of community talks and seminars. We are very pleased with the progress of these outreach efforts in shaping attitudes toward girls’ education, and we are so grateful for your continued support, which helps make all of this possible. We couldn’t do it without you!
Thank you for your continued support of Women's Global Education Project! Your support helps us provide scholarships and support to girls in rural Senegal who would otherwise not have the chance to go to school--girls like Safora, whose inspiring story tells us that our work is making a difference--thank you for partnering with us!
MEET WGEP SENEGAL SCHOLAR SAFORA
WGEP Senegal scholar Safora has always been a trailblazer. Nearly 10 years ago, she became the first in her family of 12 children to go to school when she joined our Sisters-to-School program. She is a dedicated student who does well in school and earns top grades, and the program provides her with the support she needs to do her best in school. “I want to make a better life for myself and my family,” she says.
Not only did Safora complete primary school, but she is now--against all the odds stacked against girls in rural villages like hers--about to complete middle school and enter high school.
Safora personally knows the power that education has to change lives, and she wants to make sure other girls in her village have the same chance she has. In addition to her school work, she is now tutoring a WGEP primary school scholar.
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