In East Democratic Republic of Congo where I live, most girls don’t attend school. Let me share a true story with you, which is typical of many girls. This girl is named Ishara.
Ishara came to ask work from me as a domestic worker. She was young enough that she needed to be attending school but her parents hadn’t had money for school fees. I tried to tell her she needed to return to school but she told me that it was too late for her, as she was already eighteen. She said she must prepare herself for marriage being the only sister in her family. Her mother died when she was very young, so she needed to get married soon so that her father could see his grandchild before he died. So, as it is, she will be getting married in her home village in July of this year. Interestingly, her fiance doesn’t live in the village, but he studies in town now. She will live with her father-in-law and take care of their children and family plantation meanwhile he finishes the studies.
In rural areas, it is uncommon for a parent to pay school fees for a girl would put an unnecessary burden on the household. Because for the villager a man must look for a woman, so it's only a men who must study in order to have job in the future so that he takes good care of the family. Women from my village grow up believing they must have their own field and cultivate it in order to be appreciated as a potential bride. They must produce good harvests and prove their ability to turn those harvests into income. They use the money they gain from their fields before marriage to prepare their dowry. And in Ishara’s case, the decision was made because, firstly, of being the only girl in her family and secondly, she thought that it was too late for her to return to school. she needed to prove herself quickly, so she came to town to look for a job as a domestic worker. She sends her money to her parents to hire someone to work a field for her, to help support her parents, and to fill out her dowry with kitchen and household things.
Some of the girls from the rural areas would like to go to school but their families won’t pay their school fees. But honestly most want to get married. That’s how they are brought up. Having a husband means respect and security. They mostly want men from their rural area because it is easier to build a life out there; to build a small house for themselves and their future children. The men will do cattle farming and hunting to build their life; things that men in town cannot do.
And if a husband dies when you live in the rural areas, it's easier for a widow to raise her children and continue working her field and doing small trade to survive; but in the town a widow woman can quickly become destitute due to a lack of money.
My vision is to create a center for girls in the rural village area where I am from, for girls from seven to twenty five years old. They will be taught personal health; menstruation, reproduction, hygiene, etc. Most parents don’t talk with their daughters about these things. We will also work to understand their interests and try to help them learn a trade in keeping with things that interest them. Most often girls are directed toward sewing, but of course they have many and varied interests.In the center I build one day, women will be aware and understand how the customs and traditions of our society have made so many prisoners, without the right to dream. I will open their minds to explore the possibilities that lie within them; things that would not only fulfill them as women, but be a blessing to all of us who need what is inside them to be released, to create the world we all know is so ready to come forth.
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