“Hawanatu is 22 and the mother of two children, but she is desperate to go back to school.”
Bumpeh Academy Vice Principal, Daniel Koroma told me about girls and young women, many now mothers, forced to drop out of school. They come to him looking for help to return. Hawanatu, left, dropped out after the 8th grade.
The picture Daniel sent of Hawanatu shows her with a plaintive look on her face and a T-shirt emblazoned with “School” across her chest. People buy discarded used clothes from piles sold in the market, and I thought her choice was not coincidental.
Hawanatu is typical of girls pushed into early marriage by the age of 16 or 17 by parents who can no longer feed and care for them. Few local men go beyond primary school. Girls marry someone of their own background, and soon they’re pregnant.
Sherbro Foundation has helped 450 girls go to junior and senior secondary school with school fee scholarships over the last four years.
Many girls had repeat scholarships keeping them in school. Now, we’re emphasizing helping girls stay in senior high – when drop-out rates are highest – so they can graduate.
We include young mothers who want to return to school and improve their lives.
Young mothers like Hawanatu soon understand the way to make a better life for their kids is to complete their own education. They also want to be able to help their children with their studies.
Hawanatu’s husband, an “unqualified” primary school teacher, didn’t complete high school. He has the opportunity now to get basic teacher training, but it means he’ll be away from home and can’t support his family.
Both Hawanatu’s parents are dead and she stays with her in-laws in a village outside Rotifunk. To earn money, she makes coconut cakes and a treks five miles each way to sell them in the Rotifunk market.
Bumpeh Academy is happy to accept young women like Hawanatu back into school if they can find the money for school fees. But there isn’t much to spare selling coconut cakes for pennies apiece.
Bumpeh Academy 11th grade class, left
Local young women who are drop-outs and mothers see a few professional woman visiting Rotifunk, like government officials and nonprofit organization workers. And they see Rosaline Kaimbay, former high school principal and now managing director of our local partner, CCET.
“They admire them so much, “ Daniel says. “They know they themselves are intelligent, and say ’if this woman can do this, why not me.’ ”
Exactly. Why not them?
There’s more young mothers like Hawanatu anxious to return to school who need a second chance.
You can help these young women get back into school for a full year and put their lives back on track with a $17 scholarship. Amazing.
They’ll be expanding their lives. They’ll raise healthier children and see they are educated. And they’ll break the cycle of subsistence living that’s held their families back for generations.
Add a school uniform to the scholarship for a new 10th grader and it’s only $35 to let a young woman return to school for a whole year.
It’s easy. Just click here: I’ll send a young woman to school.