Below is the latest Newsletter from our friends at EducAid
It will warm your heart to read about their progress in Sierra Leone
More Girls are sitting the senior public exams: WASSCE
EducAid’s aim is to have equality between girls and boys in education. Equality of enrolment has gone from 5% girls to 37% between 2003 and 2013. Equality of participation within the school has significantly changed – we have girl prefects, we have active girl students at every level and so on. Equality of achievement is still a significant challenge. So, while we are seriously disappointed that there is not a higher proportion, we congratulate the girls (23% of the total number) who are sitting the senior exam this year who have had the courage to go counter culture and pursue their education, often despitemany difficulties and challenges in their home lives.
Significant challenges for Sierra Leonean women – Dangerous Childbirth and Vesicovaginal Fistula
When it goes well, the birth of a child, wherever it happens, is an exciting event. But in Sierra Leone 1 in 10 women die in childbirth or pregnancy. (In contrast, 1 in 4,700 women die in childbirth or pregnancy in the UK, for example.)
In addition, many women experience a life-transforming, terrible condition called vesicovaginal fistula as a result of prolonged labour, under-age pregnancy and home deliveries without the appropriate medical support. Fistula often results in pain and also incontinence and as a consequence, ostracization.
Many women will have had their fistulas for decades before knowing that there is any possibility of treatment, but treatment does exist. The Aberdeen Women’s Centre is doing amazing work on fistula repairs, enabling women to regain normal lives. They also provide excellent maternal health care to help women avoid the dangers that result in such terrible suffering.
New additions to the Women’s team
On 25th January 2014, four new primary schools joined the EducAid family. Mathele Bana, Mafoimba, Makrugbeh and Masorie Kargbo in the Northern province on beyond Matotoka were merged into the EducAid network. Built by ‘Make it Happen, SL’ they have amazing facilities and now we start on the very important work of ensuring quality education happens in all of these beautiful buildings.
‘Make It Happen’ continues to fund the schools but EducAid will be responsible for the quality of the education happening in them. Accordingly, 8 new female staff joined the women’s team this weekend. We are all so happy to be in one family. It is unusual to have such a strong support for staff and we all enjoy knowing we belong together. Our aim is to know, love and support each other as we deliver the best education we can in our various sites and be strong role models, especially, to the young girls in our care. We want to help get women in the forefront of all the schools and to work against violence, discrimination and inequalities so we and the children we work with know their rights and responsibilities in upholding equality.
Rolal girls’ accommodation
We are extremely grateful to ‘Aminata’, a small organisation headed by Véronique Bayle, which has so kindly donated €4,000 to secure the upper floor of the Senior Secondary building in Rolal, with windows so that the 120 girls that live there have a proper space to sleep.
Girl Power Group
The ‘Girl Power Group’ has been in operation for several years across the secondary schools but has been introduced in a revitalised form recently in Maronka. During the twice weekly sessions, issues that affect the girls are addressed such as physical, emotional and sexual abuse; good and bad touching and so on. The girls are helped to think about ways they can stand up for themselves and resist the things that undermine them. The girls are also learning to see a common love among them as key to the support they can offer each other and a peace making session is part of each session’s activities. As a result, the girls are kinder to each other and looking for ways of helping each other to be strong women.
The Rolal staff have also been inspired to start weekly evening mee9ngs with all the live in girls and are seeing their attitudes towards each other and themselves changing too. The girls play games, write and sing songs and par9cipate in dramas and debates. The project is being extended to all sites so that all the girls will learn to value themselves as the beau9ful, strong women they are.