We have to encourage mothers
Most girls in Niger leave school before they have finished their studies. The Sarraounia project (Enabel) tries to reverse this trend by boosting the girls' self-confidence. Amina, a young girl aged 16, tells us she does not yet know what she wants to become later since there are still so many things to explore.
Even though she saw many of her classmates quit school after getting married Amina wants to follow another path. ”I believe it is very important to get an education, even though this is not always easy for us,” she says. ”On top of school work, I must help my parents, like my brothers and sisters do: Bring our flock to grazing land, collect firewood and haul water, and till, irrigate and check on the fields. “
For Amina and her brothers and sisters the nearest school is six kilometres away. So, her day starts very early. “Every morning, I sweep the floor, clean pots, haul water and make breakfast for my family. Then, I walk to school, which takes me about one and a half hour. Luckily, I am not on my own. Three other girls from my village go with me. We used to be more of us, but most girls stopped going,” she adds. “I believe there are several reasons for that. On the one hand, most people here consider education for girls a waste of time, because when girls get married, they join their husband’s family. On the other hand, the girls themselves often are demotivated. Not necessarily because they can’t attend classes, but because the school is too far away and when you come home, household chores are still waiting. “
“I am lucky that my parents are so supportive.” After school, I can still spend a few hours there before I have to return home. That way, I can do homework and learn in quiet. Thanks to them I obtained my Junior Secondary Education Certificate this year. “
When Amina talks about her parents’ reaction to this adventure, her face reflects confidence, “Many people warned my mother and father against the ‘white people’ who wanted to take me to Cotonou. They said, ’You know what they will do? They will take your child away from you.’ But my mother is very strong-willed; stubborn even. Her own childhood was not an easy one, and I believe she wants to break that cycle.