We’ve got an exciting announcement that we can’t wait to share with you! It’s big news. It’s a HUGE step forward for us as an organisation, and it’s been a long time coming. Can you guess what it is?
Since One Girl began, we’ve been working in Sierra Leone, West Africa. It’s one of the most challenging places in the world to be born a girl. And we are so proud of the work we’ve been able to do there through your support. With 200 girls on scholarships, over 1200 women and girls accessing sanitary pads, two schools built, and over 600 girls receiving business training – together we’ve made a real difference. And our work is just beginning.
But we also know that Sierra Leone isn’t the only place in the world where girls are discriminated against.
Sierra Leone isn’t the only place where girls are at risk of child marriage. Where girls are thought of as less, and denied an education simply because they were born a girl. There are so many parts of the world where being a girl means you’ll always be treated as a second-class citizen, given fewer opportunities, and where your very existence can be considered a burden.
It’s always been part of our vision to expand into another country, and now we’re thrilled to be able to announce what country that is…
One Girl is going to….UGANDA!!
We’re THRILLED to be growing One Girl and moving into Uganda this year! We’ll be sharing more about why we’ve chosen to expand into Uganda in the coming weeks, but here’s a brief snapshot of some of the challenges women and girls face there:
– There’s a massive gap between Primary and Secondary school attendance with less than 25% of girls finishing Primary School, and only about 10% going on to Secondary School.
– Uganda has one of the highest drop out rates in Sub-Saharan Africa, with up to 68% of students dropping out for various reasons – and it has the highest rate of female dropout in East Africa. The main reasons for the dropouts are early pregnancy, child marriage, financial insecurity, a lack of girl-friendly toilet facilities at school (and the issues around menstruation this causes), and long distances to travel to school.
– Almost half of all girls are MARRIED before the age of 18.
And, as some of you will know, Uganda is actually the place where the seed was planted for One Girl. Uganda is where our co-founders, Chantelle and Dave, first met Brenda.
Who is Brenda? When we met her, she’d been on the streets for two days. Spat on, kicked, abused. Shoved out of the way. Why? Because she was a girl who dared to ask for the opportunity to go to school.
We met her 5 years ago, when she was just 14 years old.
Brenda’s parents had died, so she was left in the care of her grandmother. A woman who lived in a tiny shack and worked incredibly hard to make ends meet. She sold maize on the side of the road, but no matter how early she woke up, or how much maize she sold, they barely had enough money to cover food and rent – let alone something as ‘extravagant’ as school.
Brenda saw the life her grandmother led – and she wanted more. She knew being born a girl didn’t give her the strongest start. She’d watched girls sell themselves to men in order to survive. She’d noticed her neighbours’ daughters disappearing – married before they’d even turned 13. She saw her grandmother’s constant struggle – and knew she was destined for more. School was the only shot she had.
So Brenda took matters into her own hands. She took a signed note from a local school principal stating she needed just $40 for her school fees and she began to beg on the streets – begging in one of the poorest countries in the world.
And that’s where we met her. Inspired by her passion and determination – we wanted to help. And that chance meeting ignited a movement that would inspire thousands of people to join forces and commit to educating girls across Africa.
We can’t wait to go back to where it all began, so to speak, and work with countless more girls like Brenda who want an education more than anything.
You might be thinking what this means for our work in Sierra Leone? Don’t worry – we’re still committed to continuing our projects there, and still have plans to scale up our Business Brains project in particular. As Sierra Leone continues its battle against Ebola, investing in educating and particularly the empowerment of girls and young women is still as important as ever – and we’re in it for the long haul.
But as we expand into Uganda we’re looking forward to changing even more lives and communities through the power of education. And we hope you’ll join us for the journey!
Look forward to more updates, incredible stories, details on our upcoming projects, and opportunities to get involved in the coming months!
Uganda… here we come!