She matters. Sit in any class, and listen to her speak, answering questions. Watch her at the board in front of the class, solving an equation, struggling with a difficult problem. Sitting at her desk collaborating with friends on a class project, writing, thinking, creating. It’s not that she is better than the boys, it’s not a competition, it’s simple, she matters because she is. She is limitless potential in the form of a girl and she can change the world. Oct 11, is the Day of the Girl. It is a day where we raise awareness surrounding the issues that girls face globally in the areas of education, nutrition, child marriage, legal and medical rights. The road ahead is still long for the girl child, especially in the area of child marriage.
In developing countries 1 in 7 girls are married or in a union before the age of 15, 1 in 3 married before the age of 18. In Sub-Saharan Africa, the statistics are even more daunting, where 4 out of 10 girls marry before the age of 18. Many girls don’t get the chance to just be girls. Their childhood disappears under a cloud of domestic responsibility in marriage, often being pulled out of school to fulfill these responsibilities. And, even if a girl is not physically or mentally ready, pregnancy is also often a result. Every day, over 20,000 girls under age 18 give birth in developing countries—over 7 million a year. These are not merely statistics but real challenges faced by our children in Mathare. Educating the girls of Mathare, and removing barriers to their continuing education matters. Educated girls are more likely to delay marriage and pregnancy, and with secondary education, girls are up to six times less likely to marry as children compared to girls who have little or no education. What we do at eduKenya matters. We have faced the challenges of child marriage, when Jane’s (name changed for privacy) teen sister, a Mawewa student, dropped out of school to marry an older teen in Mathare, with the full consent of her parents. Jane came to the school crying, begging her teachers to not allow her to have the same fate as her sister. She asked for us to champion her, so that she might finish, not just finish primary school, but secondary school too! Jane matters.
She matters, she is one of those girls we see in school, struggling to study, struggling to meet the mark. She is Faith, who has been with us for 11 years. Faith has been given the opportunity to grow from a little girl into a young woman at Mawewa School. She has had her ups and downs academically, but has always found a supportive community, and has maintained a positive attitude and outlook. Faith has found support as family members face sickness. She has found deep friendship, and adults that encourage her and believe in her, regardless of her academic performance. Faith continues to grow and is one of our most improved students. Faith matters and her life tells a story of diligence, endurance and growth.
What we do at eduKenya matters. Rita joined our Mawewa High School nearly 2 years ago, discouraged and not seeing much hope for her life or value in who she was. Rita could not see the light at the end of the tunnel, for Rita, life in extreme poverty meant the cycle of poverty would never be broken. After receiving mentoring, being given responsibility, encouragement, becoming part of a loving community, tutoring in her school work and being told she matters, Rita is a changed girl. She has grown academically and socially, in her leadership abilities and in her attitude. Her mother has seen that change and it changed her too! Rita’s mother is passionate about her daughter’s education. Even though Rita’s education is highly subsidized at Mawewa School due to our generous donors, parents must still pay a fee. Rita’s mother went out and found a sponsorship opportunity for Rita, and has already not only paid this term’s fees at Mawewa High School, but the whole of 2018 too!
She matters. She is powerful. She has limitless potential, and at eduKenya we stand with her, every girl that we have the opportunity to educate, partnering with her parents and guardians so that she has the chance to change the world.