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Why I say Educate One Girl

Education improves the life of a girl child

Globally there is a wide gap in youth literacy in child education for girls. Although the gap has been shrinking over time, the data shows that fewer girls are emerging from education systems with basic literacy skills than boys and those numbers are significantly daunting when we look at developing countries.

Take Uganda, where I am from, for decades, 98% of the rural Ugandan girls do not complete high school level. Nearly 0.5% will graduate at a diploma level. When we look at these numbers and count the girls, who will then be forced into marriages that for many will be violent, multiple births, and a high risk of either contracting HIV and/or birthing children infected who do not survive, This is not a picture of a healthy
prosperous world.

What does this mean to global society? From my perspective it breeds not only further discontent and poverty, but disrupts our ability to positively shift both economic and environmental global change. Just look at the “common life” that is now prevalent in Uganda’s rural communities today for women. Domestic abuse is rampant. Many girls have been forced into marriages by the age of 13 because a primary reason is that the parents cannot afford school fees. The actual poverty is ignorance. Most grassroots communities do not know what to do to generate income simply because they lack mentorship and sensitization. By staying uneducated the community suffers. How can we expect these women and their children “to do better” or to “help improve our world” when they are starving emotionally and physically and they are dying.

Take myself I was considered one of the hopeless 10 years ago. I had a father who was traditionally bent and did not mind about his own children and or their education. My Mother on the hand took a stand and at times received harsh punishment for it to find a way to educate her children. The money for school was a primary issue. To earn these funds my Mother brewed alcohol in the bush in total darkness from morning to dawn, she sold her own
cloths, food and more to save the dollars needed to send her first born son and daughter to school. Both of my siblings finished their tertiary education but they died along the way.

I can still remember her tears whenever I was chased from school due to lack of school fees. And, think of the anguish my Mother must have felt as she struggled to survive.

My Mother’s story is one of many rural Uganda girls. She got married to my father at the age of 12. My mother lost 4 step children and 4 of her own children as a result of HIV/AIDS, and one while giving birth to twins. Out of 12, she – my mother Nociata, 66 years old is left with only 3 daughters and now is raising 17 grand children who she is hopeful they will bring smiles in her face someday surviving to adulthood.

My Mother now confesses that she never had peace in her marriage until my father died 5 years ago. He kept marrying until his death. My 12 brother and sisters grew up seeing our Mom tortured week by week, year by year. My father literally chased all of us and beat us over nothing. We slept in the bush on many occasions. We would seek refuge a large percent of the time at my Mother’s Mothers house. This is where my mother escaped to heal from
her husband’s home and we were lucky to have it. Many Uganda woman do not have that support. As I write this I think of how everyday sounds (a cows moo, a cock-a-doodle doo or a dog barking in the distance) would set my father into a rage where he would then attack my Mother. I think now of the children who are still subjected to this depraved behavior and suffer from the consequences of random unprotected sex, the disease and the unfed children left behind whom then join the cycle again.

To break the cycle, women like my Mother who despite all their suffering and barriers, never give up. My Mother provided my brothers and sisters a basic education. Just think, if she had the funds to attend school how our lives would have been different. “My father denied me education that is why I want you, my children to go to school” Nociata, my mother would remind us throughout our childhoods.

I was very lucky to be educated by an American woman, Rebecca Howard from Kentucky and her sister Shelby Young from Alabama who picked me up from hopelessness and educated me until I achieved a bachelor’s degree in Information Technology. Today I have a job, as a Communications Officer for Build Africa – Uganda. I am struggling to take care of my family -- educate my nieces and nephews and the very needy in my community. Thanks to you precious Aunt and a friend here in World Pulse for giving me an extra hand / financial contribution for educating my Nieces and Nephews.

My passion is to support and empower any helpless girl in my community, Uganda, Africa and those around the world. Given the opportunity every girl can make a difference when she is educated. I am dedicated to my very last breath to work to drive positive change and to educate one girl at a time, because everyone deserves a better life and education is the right path to better living.

Join me in making change, no matter the country or continent of your dream, you are empowering the future global leaders, turning your passion into action.

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Comments

Taz's picture

Thanks for sharing

Hello Achieng -- Thanks for sharing such a deeply personal story. I believe that education is the best gift that any parent can bestow upon their child. Your mum's sacrifices have not been in vain. I am encouraged that you are taking it upon yourself to be a mentor and play a part in empowering the next generation.

In solidarity,

Taz

AchiengNas's picture

Thank you dear Taz, I have

Thank you dear Taz,
I have been quite for a while one of the reasons was identifying the very needy girls to educate next year. I have gotten 10 that I will officially start with next year. While I was in the Media tour several people asked me to get them girls to mentor. If they keep their words, these 10 girls will educate hundreds and the ripple effect will go on...
Thank you for your comment. Beatrice

I believe everybody has the potential to live a better life. Given the Opportunity, Education and Motivation ANYONE can become someone admirable. Nobody is a NOBODY, everybody is SOMEBODY.

Stella Paul's picture

I WAS WAITING!

Dear Achieng

I had been waiting for this soooooooo long. I joined this forum at a time when you were preparing to leave for US tour. You had so many other things to do, to talk about. But in between I even poked you once, I wrote to you to tell about your work and your journey of life and you were so polite, so nice, you asked me to wait.

Now that you have told this story and I have read it, am finding it so familiar. I know you are continents away, you had a different situation there, a different path that you walked on. But I can feel that pain that you have known and lived and overcame and this is what makes me give you a big tight hug!

Education is important. I will soon write my stories too, of the deprivation that lack of education brought on to women around me. But right now, I want to just say that you are 10000% right. Educate 1 girl and she will educate a community. Besides, when a girl learns, she learns more than ABCD, she develops courage to shout against the wrong, She empowers those around her and passes on a baton of hope. Thats what I feel you are doing.

I am filled with even more love and admiration for you now and am extremely happy that your voice has travelled far and wide.
Love and god bless!

Stella Paul
Twitter: @stellasglobe

AchiengNas's picture

Stella, I like your overview

Stella, I like your overview of shout against wrong. Education enables a girl child to think right; supporting her family is thinking right, educating others is thinking right, NO to early marriage is thinking right, thinking right becomes even much louder when their voices are being heard and action visible. God bless everyone who can spend painfully in educating a needy hopeless rural girl go to school. Thank you for your comment! Beatrice

I believe everybody has the potential to live a better life. Given the Opportunity, Education and Motivation ANYONE can become someone admirable. Nobody is a NOBODY, everybody is SOMEBODY.

Thanks so much for the enlightening information. I do agree with you entirely. We are being informed that the gender equality gap in primary school enrollment is now closing up , actually in some places girls out-number boys in Uganda.This is mainly in early years of primary (P.1-4) and begin dropping out in P.5-7. Only one half may enroll for secondary education and probably only one 1/4 complete secondary school education.

But what is still amazing is the rate at which these girls are dropping out of school. The drop out rate is above 70 %. If we look at the reasons for school drop out, they include: pregnancy, marriage, lack of sanitary pads, etc.

I visited Masindi district last week to introduce the Sexual Health Improvement Project (SHIP) to the district and we where shocked when we were informed that in Masindi High school alone, 30 girls had dropped out of school due to pregnancy this term.

I think more attention needs to be put on how to ensure the girls are retained at school so that they complete school. This is what SHIP is doing. Together we can make girls stay at school.

Grace Ikirimat

"It takes the hammer of persistence to drive the nail of success."


AchiengNas's picture

Thank you for your comment

Thank you for your comment Grace, and thank you for the great work you are doing through SHIP. We are also in Masindi, Bulisam Kiryandongo and Teso region (Kumi, Ngora and Bukedea)and believe me; Build Africa is doing great too in terms of community sensitization - promoting girl child education and the local micro-finance for the grassroots parents to be able to afford secondary and tertiary education for their children.
My initiative is just to connect one girl to one mentor who will mentor and educate her. They are free to meet face2face...No much paperwork, it worked for me. It can work for others. Together we are making girls stay at school and achieve their dreams.

I believe everybody has the potential to live a better life. Given the Opportunity, Education and Motivation ANYONE can become someone admirable. Nobody is a NOBODY, everybody is SOMEBODY.

ikirimat's picture

Just the right Timing

Hello Nas,

I am even more excited about your work in the Teso sub region. Your approach is very viable and I encourage you to continue. I was in Ngora last week (10.11.2011), on the invitation of the district leaders where I made the presentation on the status of Adolescent Reproductive Health to a wide range of stakeholders (Honorable minister of State for Teso, Woman MP Ngora, LC V Chairman, Resident District Commissioner, District executives, Chief Administrative officer (convener of the meeting) Representatives of all School management Committees, Parents teachers associations, Senior woman Teachers, CSOs (including Build Africa), Heads of relevant departments among others.

It was so alarming that the rate of child abuse (defilement, adolescent pregnancies and child marriages ) was so high . In the last P.L.E exams that were recently done, 63 girls did the exams while pregnant or carrying a newly born baby. The resolution was that the district council makes an ordinance and Bye laws to check the vice. Defilement was strongly condemned by the leaders. Parents were asked to take full responsibility of their children as a beginning point of protecting them.

I was pleased that the leaders had picked keen interest in the matter of girls education and I hope we shall continue working together for the good of the future woman and communities.

Grace Ikirimat

"It takes the hammer of persistence to drive the nail of success."


Ruth Beedle's picture

Hopeless isn't the word for

Hopeless isn't the word for these children of Uganda, Bea. Hopeless may have been the word up until recently, but now that you are out there speaking for education and empowerment and choice and respect, these children now have hope. They can now see that if one 'hopeless' girl can travel across a continent sharing her story, then maybe they can lift their eyes to the possibility of another life.

I love you dearly. Thank you for telling this story of your mother. Now I understand better your world and hers. I am thankful for your mother's mother and that she provided a safe place. And when you were recalling the moo of a cow and the crowing of a rooster, at first I was there with you in your village smiling for the memories, but now I am sitting here crying that those memories aren't sweet.

Your father lived a tragic life to not really know the tenderness and love that is possible when a woman trusts a man completely because he is a safe haven in a world of storm. I am sorry for all the fathers who miss the tenderness that loving children can provide, if they are provided a home of love and nurture and safety.

And I am thankful, once again, for you and your remarkable voice. So stand, lovely Bea, and walk the stage of your life from this point forward, sharing that big vision and that huge heart and that beautiful, heartfelt smile of yours.

Yours

R

AchiengNas's picture

Thank you for this lovely

Thank you for this lovely comment. My mother's story especially on domestic violence is longer.She is good at keeping a record - not written but at the back of her brain. You could write over 100 books about her experience in a 50year marriage.
Even when she has no avenue (uncommon listeners who have never heard and experienced the same/and can take action against the act), she has a daughter who will share her story and I believe somewhere somehow her stories will save women from the domestic violence anywhere in the world.
And thanks to you good Auntie for all you do about everything. You are among the world changers, you contribute DIRECTLY to the peace, love and joy that the world needs today.
Thank you for loving us and me. We love you and I love you too. My puppies, Mum and I pray for you and your family always.

I believe everybody has the potential to live a better life. Given the Opportunity, Education and Motivation ANYONE can become someone admirable. Nobody is a NOBODY, everybody is SOMEBODY.

WILDKat's picture

Quilts for HIVAids education

http://www.2015quilt.com/?t=media10

RED and ONE are both organizations who support this project. Potential for support here for your projects.

Naturally grateful,
Kat Haber

"Know thyself." ~ Plato

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