Wow, we now have a grand total of 16 girls who have been or a currently going through high school thanks to the Afafanto Scholarship Fund, the main project of Leah’s Dream Inc. These are our newest grads: Adzifah and Samiyah.
I met them for the first time on my last trip to Ghana in 2013. Now they are finished with their final exams and about to embark on a future that is filled with new possibilities thanks to their secondary education.
First Lady, Michelle Obama is in Africa now in support of girls’ education. It can never be said enough that in most places in our world, women are treated as less than equal with less than equal opportunities than are accorded the male population.
Take Rafia, who is now working as administrative assistant in our Leah’s Dream office earning the money she needs to go on to University. Here is her story:
Rafia was trained in bead-making during one of Leah’s Dream Inc. transition programs.
After graduation, she returned to her home in Larabanga hoping to support herself and save enough money to retake her exams. In Larabanga the villagers are so poor they are often given a product up front and pay for it later. The villagers saw her as privileged, as having been empowerd by schooling through Leah’s Dream. This justified them stealing the beads Rafia had learned to make in the transition program and not paying for them.
Disappointed and disillusioned, Rafia realized she could not make money in Larabanga, she went to Kumasi, a large city in central Ghana, to live with a female relative. They sold food on a roadside stand, but didn’t make enough to cover food, let alone save for exam money.
Emelia Guo, Executive Director of Leah’s Dream in Ghana, began to receive distress calls from Rafia. She stated that she didn’t feel safe; she couldn’t make ends meet, conditions were worse than in Larabanga. She asked to live with Emelia while she made enough money to take the exam for entrance to the government secretarial school. “I want to do something with my life! I don’t have anything.”
Though it is not a policy of Leah’s Dream to finance college eduction, Emelia softened and began to explore the possibility of taking Rafia into her home. She went to visit Rafia’s parents in Larabanga, and they were very supportive of that possibility. Next she called Ramson, her contact with the Larabanga community, for a character reference. He vouched for Rafia: “Help her. She is a good girl and her parents will be so happy.”
So Rafia is now living in Emelia’s home, sharing space with her own children until she can earn enough money to attend secretarial school and to live on her own. She is happy to be working and has been a great asset in our office.
One of the realities that Afafanto scholarship girls have had to learn is how much they have to study to pass the exams that lead to further opportunities. Once they graduate from high school, they are in “the real world.” To be independent, most need further training and education.
Another example is Sofia, who also wants to take the exam again. Her situation is different in that when she left school, she went to Accra, the capital, and returned to her home in Daboya. The big cities are difficult for these young women who come from small villages and boarding schools. Often they fall prey to prostitution to make ends meet. In Daboya, she is selling beads successfully, and food at the market. She has 1,000 Cedi’s in her bank account!
Despite education, women are still needed to be the caretakers of the family. Arabiatu left high school pregnant and went to live with her grandmother in Tamale. She gave birth as a single parent and now is taking care of the baby and her grandmother. Because of her education, she has been a positive force in her village.
Starting in elementary school, a slightly higher percentage of girls than boys are in school. In junior high it evens out. In high school, girls are disproportionately represented. Families often marry off girls or use them to work on family farms. Of the fifteen Afafanto scholarship girls, only one has dropped out. As they graduate and begin to experience the challenges of adulthood, they more and more express appreciation not only for the all-expense paid high school education but also the personal contact with Emelia, the skills training with Fuleira , and the mentoring for fulfilling life choices.
Thanks so much, Sandee
Subject: THANKS GIVING FROM TENG – ZENG ERNESTINA
I would like to thank you for the items you provided me last term.
The items made studies interesting and progressive for me in School.
But since then, I have not had the chance to communicate with you due
to lack of communicating devices.
In our School they do not allow us to enter the ICT laboratory for
Also, they do not permit us to go out of the School Premises without
any tangible reason
So am unable to communicate with you whilst I was in school.
I have had this opportunity to communicate with you because we are on
Mid – Terms and I am in the house
So i have the chance to visit the Internet Cafe to communicate with you.
May God Bless you and also Pray for me as I am in School to Impress
you at the End of my stay in the Senior High School.
From Teng – Zeng Ernestina