Send The Girls To school
Travelling from Mombasa to Lungalunga, a group of women stop the vehicle at Ramisi ready to board. Besides them is a bundle of 'Makuti' usually used for roofing of traditional thatched houses and a young girls aged about 15 years who is burdened with the weight of the baby she is carrying on her back. Upon boarding the public vehicle, the girl is entrusted with the responsibility of delivering the roofing material to her destination. We resume on the journey and the conductor soon asks for bus fare from the girl. It happens that the new passenger has no enough money to meet the full fare to her final stop.
There begun name calling from the bus conductor to the girl with treats of throwing her out of the vehicle. It was an unbearable scene to watch the girl helplessly pleading for mercy. The pain that drew empathy from my collegue and I forcing us to intervene.
As I paid the fare demanded for the girl's sake, i could not help but think that this girl could possibly be somebody's wife, may be battered and abused, may be having gone home to her parents for help but forced to return to her abusive husband because her family already received dowry that they cannot repay.
I saw a girl who should be in school but instead is a mother bearing family responsibilities beyong her strength and capability.
Such are many cases in Lungalunga a remote village on the south coast of Kenya. A needs assessment by Project Africa reveals that in 2001 at least 50 girls enrolled in primary education at Lungalunga primary school, However in 2008, only 19 girls completed primary education and amongst these 2 girls sat their final primary education examination while pregnant.
Reports from the local teachers attribute girl school drop out rate to harmful traditional practises taht focus on finding teenage girls suitors and marriage partners who in most cases are older men considered to be wealthy by the community. Girls succumb to family pressure and marry at an early age so that they can earn their families income which is later used for education of boys.
Amongst families affected by HIV/AIDS, many young girls drop out of school to find source of income to take care of their sibblings. Rural girls are employed as house helps by middle and high class families in the cities such as Nairobi and Mombasa, others fall into the trap of commercial sex work earning from engaging into riski nad and unprotected sex with long distance truck drivers or tourist plying Kenya- Tanzania route through Lungalunga which sits at the border.
Project Africa has come in handy to help in rescue of girls who are at risk of dropping out of school. In 2009 the project has rescued 4 girls two of whom have joined secondary education. The other wto await sponsorship to find school fees.
The rescue process allows the girls t stay at Project Africa's Mission house or with Project Africa staff until they are safe to return to their families. The Girls are always informed that they can come back to th emission house whenever they feel threatened to be at home.
for those Orphaned headed households where girls have taken the responsibility to be bread winners, The challenge is greater when there is no source of income. Most of the girls from such households have desired to continue with education, however they are torn in between pursuing their life goals and making sacrifice of upholding their families and sibblings together.
Project Africa Program of learning by doing and earning, gives girls a chanceto work in the cottage industry over the weekends and produce handicrafts which are later sold and the income earned pays wages and school fees for the participants.
There is need to educate the community on the importance of educating girls. There is also need to support girls with acquiring tools and materials they need to establish income generating activities that can pay for their school fees and wages.
A donation of USD 50 can enroll a girl to secondary school. And a Donation of USD100 can buy tools and materials for start up of a cottage industry for one girl. Friends of Project Africa have donated sewing machines in 2008 which are currently used in training by the women in Lungalunga and the girls. however after training i is important to start own lines of enterprenuership.
We appeal to friends and wellwishers to support women and help send the girls to school.