The girls in our school mothers programme in Uganda participate in annual writing competitions. These writing competitions allow girls to share their struggles and worries with each other and develop their own voice. They are also a chance to win awards and scholarhsips to help with school costs. Here is the story that one of the girls, Akello, wrote about her struggle for education.
During holiday break, I go home and live with my parents. Teaachers always tell me to live my studies and read my books during the holidays. But usually, my parents want me to be useful. I end up digging in the garden and doing chores from morning up to sunset. I don’t want to seem like I’m bragging that I’m in secondary school and too good to work in the garden so I don’t refuse. I try my level best to not disturb them, but I feel like I’m in the way.
My parents keep saying soon I will have to earn my own school fees if I want to continue. I keep pleading with them to let me continue. My mum would rather my sisters and me to get married. One of my sisters already left school to get married. Parents are a big challenge. They always want us to get married, epseically because they get a bride price. There is no way we as girls can say no because our parents always say they bore us and we owe them. There are some parents who support their girls, but not me. I feel very alone. It is not that I blame them. They don’t know what they are doing. They never went to school and don’t even know any educated persons. Making them see that having an education is a serious issue is a problem.
My friend who also lives in the same community had a similar challenges. When she went back home during holidays, she got nothing done. Instead she’d become like a mother in the house, and look after the younger children. She even tried to stay with another friend, but just ended up working there too. She couldn’t keep going alone so she got married to an older man. He promised to keep her in school, but she got pregnant and stopped coming.
I will try my level best to continue my studies. I keep pressuring them to pay. If they stop paying, I will find some way to pay my own fees. I will also work hard in class even though there is no way I can ‘live my studies’ when I’m in the village.
We have also supported video projects for girls in South Sudan. Here is a great one which talks about girls challenges with work.