Modern Slavery May. 2014 - Page 16

Girls’ power to change the world

What is the power of an 11 year old girl? CARE knows that with the right support, an 11 year old girl can change her community. She can save a friend.

Ramatou Sambo is 11 years old, enrolled in public primary school in the village of Maréguinta in Benin. Fatherless, Ramatou lives with her mother. Last year, she had a narrow escape: Ramatou’s friends at school prevented her family from forcing her to drop out of school to get married.

During the past school year, Ramatou was often absent from school. Her family told the teacher that she was sick. But girls at Ramatou’s school participate in CARE’s EDUFIG project, which focuses on keeping girls in school, and builds leadership skills with girls and community awareness with their families. These girls know about their rights, and how to ask for help. Some of the girls in this program visited Ramatou’s home, and revealed the real reasons for Ramatou’s absence from school.

In fact, Ramatou’s parents were preparing for her wedding. This was the reason for her long absences and repeated delays in the classroom.

Once they found this out, the girls supported by the Students’ Mothers Associations and the Students’ Parents Associations—initiated school exchange meetings with Ramatou’s parents to build their awareness of why it is important for Ramatou to stay in school.

Ramatou’s parents have now publicly renounced of the project of marrying their daughter early. They have also committed to support Ramatou in continuing her schooling. Ramatou has gone back to school and attends classes regularly. At the end of the last year, Ramatou had a good academic standing, and was planning to continue school.