"We are solving a full range of challenges, beyond just funding scholarships and supplies--we are helping to change the culture to value girls' education."
This is what WGEP Board Member April Donnellan says about our work in Senegal after recently visiting the WGEP Sisters-to-School program there with her 11-year-old daughter. While there, they went to numerous schools and programs, visited scholars and their families at home, took part in an adult literacy class, joined a community meeting, and attended an education conference.
"It was very special to be there with my daughter, as she was able to meet girls her age and learn about their daily lives," April says. "Our WGEP program--with its mulch-tiered emphasis on family and community support--is really making a difference for these girls. We met several families whose daughters would clearly not be able to attend school were it not for our program. Teachers and tutors say our scholars learn faster than other students, participate more in class, and have confidence in themselves and their abilities.
"In many schools in our region, we are seeing more and more girls in school, and in some cases even outnumber the boys. This is reverse of long-standing traditions of devaluing education for girls. Seeing our Senegal programs at work really inspired me!"
WGEP Senegal is a "Give Knowledge" finalist in the 2012 GlobalGiving Photo Contest! You can help us by casting your vote here--http://www.globalgiving.org/poll/photo-contest-2012/ -- between now and noon EDT on August 15. The organization with the most votes wins $1,000 from GlobalGiving, with the winning photo displayed on the GlobalGiving homepage for a full day. Thanks for your support!
Our Sisters-to-School project in Senegal added an Adult Literacy program for women and a Textbook Library Exchange program for secondary scholars.
The Adult Literacy program, modeled on an existing WGEP Kenya program, gives the mothers of our scholars and other women in the community a way to learn literacy skills and participate in empowerment and support sessions.
The Textbook Library Exchange program will help alleviate textbook costs for scholars by allowing them to share several commonly owned copies of otherwise expensive textbooks.
CLICK HERE to read more about our WGEP project in Senegal.
WGEP is proud of our graduates, who are living proof of the power of education to change lives--and of the multiplier effect of its impact on families and communities!
Fatou's family was poor and illiterate, but they believed in education and were determined for Fatou to go to school. The family worked hard to make this happen, but they struggled to make ends meet and still pay for Fatou’s education. Then Fatou was enrolled in WGEP’s Sisters-to-School Senegal.
“I really benefited from this program,” Fatou says. “It allowed me to be among the best students in my class and to succeed on the first round on the Baccalauréat.” After passing the “BAC”--Senegal’s notoriously difficult national graduation exam--Fatou graduated from high school and went for training in elementary education.
Now Fatou is impacting the next generation as an elementary teacher in the village of Soum. “Graduates like me must now be the pioneers of Sisters-to-School,” she says. “I try to help the families send their girls to school and reduce their domestic work so they can study. I give free coaching to girls whose parents are poor and illiterate. With my small salary, I help the girls with their supplies. I try to motivate my students every way I can.”
Congratulations to WGEP Senegal Scholar Mariama Diagne Diop, Winner of the Kergui Association Poetry Writing Contest!
AILLEURS, VERS L’INCONNU
Elsewhere, in the unknown
by Mariama Diagne Diop
translated from French (below)
Why do they go away to unknown horizons?
Why do they go away to hostile horizons?
Why do they go elsewhere?
To this elsewhere which gives them nothing without suffering
You the immigrant, you the accursed of the earth
You send yourselves far from your homes, to Europe, to America
Oh yes, I understood you went away
Because your earth is stripped bare
Because fertility has deserted your soil
Because sun and fire have burned down your forests
Because your malnourished animals give nothing more than a small pittance
Because the greatly reduced food can no longer provide a subsistence
Because sometimes war, hideous war, has destroyed your homes
So, you launch yourselves into the music of the unknown
So, you disappear into the terrible belly of the Atlantic
Yes, I understand you, this is the wretched misery that withers you
And me, I pray that the skies of heaven would open themselves
For the abundant waters to bathe and revive the earth
That beautiful harvests will grow in your field.
That there will at last be a return of abundance and laughter will blossom in your homes,
Mariama is part of WGEP’s Sisters-to-School program that currently helps 270 girls in rural Senegal attend and succeed in school. To read more about WGEP Senegal, please visit us at www.womensglobal.org.
In the original French
AILLEURS, VERS L’INCONNU
Mariama Diagne Diop
Pourquoi s’en vont-ils vers des horizons inconnus?
Pourquoi s’en vont-ils vers des horizons hostiles?
Pourquoi s’en vont-ils ailleurs?
Vers cet ailleurs qui ne leur donne rien sans souffrances
Vous les émigrants, vous les damnés de la terre
Vous vous envolez loin de chez vous, vers l’Europe, vers l’Amérique
Oh oui, j’ai compris vous partez
Parce que vos terres sont dénudées
Parce que la fertilité a déserté vos sols
Parce que le soleil et les feux ont brûlé vos forêts
Parce que vos animaux mal nourris ne donnent plus qu’une faible pitance
Parce que la nourriture bien réduite ne suffit plus à la subsistance
Parce que des fois la guerre, la guerre hideuse a détruit vos demeures
Alors, vous vous jetez dans l’inconnu des airs
Alors, vous vous enfoncez dans le terrible « ventre de l’Atlantique »
Oui, je vous comprends c’est la misère sèche qui vous sèche
Et moi, je prie pour que les gargouilles du ciel s’ouvrent
Pour que l’eau abondante baigne et ravive la terre
Pour que de belles récoltent croissent à vos champ
Pour que enfin l’abondance revienne et fleurisse de rires vos foyers désormais heureux.
News from Women’s Global Education Project Senegal:
Scholars Succeed Academically
Secondary School National Entrance Exam Revived
WGEP Senegal has just learned that the Senegalese government has reinstated the notoriously difficult 6eme grade-level national exam, used to weed out grammar school students before entering secondary school. The exam is especially challenging for students from poor, rural families who have fewer resources and less access to the quality education and academic tutoring needed to pass the exclusive examinations. WGEP Senegal remains committed to helping our scholars succeed at these exams so they can continue their education to the highest level they are capable of.
Community Awareness Programs Making a Difference
We have also learned the encouraging news that nationally, the number of girls going to school in Senegal is on the rise! This is a testament to the community awareness and outreach programs run by organizations like WGEP, and that our programs are making a difference. On a local level, we continue to see increases in the number of girls in school in the villages where our programs operate, and we are seeing more and more support for girls’ education in the community. For example, earlier this year, one of our secondary scholars from Karang village, Adele (name has been changed), was pressured into an early marriage, which normally would mean that she would drop out of school in order to tend to her house and start a family. However, because of the work that WGEP has done in Karang to raise awareness and support for girls’ education, the many members of the community rose up in support of Adele staying in school so that she can finish her education. Even the local police brigade spoke up for her! As a result, Adele was able to stay in school.
We thank you again for your support. We are making a difference, and we could not do this work without you!
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