Educate girls and fight poverty in Senegal

by Women's Global Education Project

Please enjoy this note we received from Bineta, a recent WGEP graduate:

Hi, my name is Bineta and I became a Sisters to School Senegal scholar in 2012.

In the beginning, my father did not want me to go to school because he did not value education for girls. This is why I didn’t attend school until the age of 8. After a while, my father saw that I was smart, so he began to encourage me. I had some problems pursuing my studies since I come from a family with no financial means. My parents are illiterate; my father dropped out of school early due to his family's lack of funds. Fearing the same thing would happen to me, my parents worked hard to pay for my studies. I started school but had to leave due to our lack of money and the fact that I received no study help at home.

Happily, in 2012, I got the chance to become a scholar in the Sisters to School program. My parents could finally breathe a sigh of relief. They no longer had to do anything about my studies. The program pays for my tutoring, school supplies and school fees. I also receive toiletries and personal effects at the end of each month. I am happy now because these were the things I was missing. My friends often tell me that I am spoiled by the project. I am so thankful for Sisters to School because the tutoring greatly helped me to pass my final high school exam. My parents and I are very proud to be a part of the project.

Thank you and keep up the good work!

Links:

Panelists, attendees, and staff
Panelists, attendees, and staff

Earlier this month, WGEP hosted its first ever “higher education panel,” a panel featuring five of Sokone’s finest female role models. Three of the five panelists were alumni of WGEP’s “Our Sisters to School” program (see photo below). The panelists displayed a range of professional and academic interests, including hotel manager, French teacher, and information technology student. The goal of the panel was to help guide and orient the 53 newly minted high school graduates of our “Sisters to School” program in terms of opportunities in higher education. The attendees enthusiastically soaked up the panelists’ pearls of wisdom.

As a result of the panel, 10 girls registered for university for the first time and 14 girls modified their online registration. In addition to offering a forum for registration – an uncommon opportunity for girls living in villages without electricity – the higher education panel allowed for the exchange of ideas and backgrounds between both the attendees and the panelists, an experience that one high school graduate declared as, “especially rich”. During the event, attendees, “Sisters to School” alumni panelists, and current Femmes Plus employees gave thanks and appreciation to Adji Senghor, Program Director of “Sisters to School”. Since the panel ended, Adji’s phone has been ringing continually, with the high school graduates calling to express their gratitude for what was an inspiring day for these young women as they continue their path towards autonomy.

Alumni panelists Rokhaya, Mariama and Maimouna
Alumni panelists Rokhaya, Mariama and Maimouna

Links:

Kambe in May 2015
Kambe in May 2015

Kambe has been a WGEP Sisters to School scholar for three years and is currently in her final year of high school in Sokone. She lives with one of her older sisters in Sokone so that she can attend high school there since her parents’ village where she grew up is too far from her school.

Kambe was surprised at what a huge difference the scholarship from WGEP has made in her life. Prior to receiving the scholarship, her family lived in very difficult conditions. They would go out into the fields after the millet harvest and collect whatever was left so they could sell it in the local market to have enough money to purchase school supplies. Kambe is the fourth of five children and only her and her youngest sister attend school. One of her older sisters went to Dakar to work as a domestic helper in order to make money to send home to her family. All of Kambe’s other siblings, except for the youngest, have married and dropped out of school.

Kambe’s mother is very supportive of her daughter’s education and herself takes adult literacy classes through Sisters to School in order to learn to read and support her daughter in school.

Kambe wants to continue her studies after she passes her final high school exam. Her favorite subjects are English and French. Her favorite activities include reading and helping to prepare tea for her family and guests. After years of toiling in the fields, Kambe would like to work in an office upon receiving her college degree.

Fana, back left, with classmates
Fana, back left, with classmates

Your support has impacted the lives of hundreds of girls and their communities in rural Senegal. Thanks to people like you, Fana has been given the chance to finally attend school and has encouraged other girls in her community to go to school too! She recognizes the importance of educating girls and has used the skills she’s learned from the program to help others. Here is her story:

“My name is Fana and I am 19 years old; I am a scholar in high school in Sokone in the “Sisters to School” program. Education is often considered the fastest method for changing conditions for girls and their families, and is also the best way to fight poverty.

My village didn’t have a school when I began my studies. The closest school was 2 kilometers away in Sokone. My parents didn’t have the means necessary to pay for my studies. It was very difficult but I was getting by.

When I passed 6th grade, I started middle school in Sokone; things became more complicated when I was housed with a family where the father didn’t want anyone to light the lamps in the bedrooms to do schoolwork at night. This made me a little crazy because I loved my studies and I wanted to be among the best in my class. Luckily, Madame Adji’s (Senegal Project Director) daughter was in my class and explained the problem to her mom. Madame Adji invited me to her house in the evenings so that I was able to study until 10pm. At the end of the year, one of our teachers began housing me. This is where I live during the school year, even today. I live in better conditions.

I became a scholar in high school in 2013. I regularly received enrollment expenses, school supplies, toiletries, training, and advising. I took summer classes in 2013 to prepare for the 2014 final exam. In sum, the program has allowed me to improve my academic performance, and I won the Prize of Excellence in French at high school in Sokone.

My parents support education for girls, but do not have the means necessary to support my sisters. My village has a school now, and I support the girls in my village, encouraging them in their studies and educating them based on the training I’ve received through the program. We also educate parents, especially the mothers of girls. The whole village likes the school, and all the children go there.

I want to become an important person and work in a field that supports vulnerable populations, especially women.”

Thank you for your support and commitment to Women’s Global Education Project and for helping young women like Fana!

Links:

Mbarou, right, with a classmate.
Mbarou, right, with a classmate.

Here is a letter from WGEP Senegal scholar Mbarou about her daily life and aspirations:

"Hi, my name is Mbarou and I am 15 years old. I live with my parents and 6 brothers and sisters. Every morning, I get up at 5am to go over my lessons. I eat breakfast at 7am and go to school at 7:30; I go home to eat lunch at 2:30pm and return to school at 3:30. When I get home from school, I am able to relax a bit. Then I do my household chores and eat dinner at 8pm. After dinner, I do my schoolwork from 8pm to 11.

For fun, I like to talk to my parents about life. I also like to do math exercises with my friends. My favorite subject in school is Earth and Life Sciences because it is important for my future: I want to grow up to be the Minister of Health. My proudest moment in school was when I received the best grade in science. One of the most interesting things I have learned from this program is how to protect oneself against microbes.

I plan on supporting the education of girls through my own success and on informing and motivating others about the importance of education. Success in education is the key to fighting poverty."

Thank you for providing a brighter future for girls like Mbarou!

Links:

 

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Organization Information

Women's Global Education Project

Location: Oak Park, IL - USA
Website: http:/​/​www.womensglobal.org
Project Leader:
Amy Maglio
Founder
Oak Park, Illinois United States
$201,974 raised of $215,000 goal
 
1,166 donations
$13,026 to go
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