It seems so obvious to me that a major solution to many of our problems in the developing world lie in educating girls. At the moment too many girls marry at a ridiculously young age, are pregnant by 15, are forced into the sex-trade in order to survive and are the main sufferers of HIV/Aids. They reproduce many children and create a cycle of disease and deprivation (along with abuse) that continues from one generation to another.
Many organisations have tried to do something about it, for example The Girl Effect, The Novo Foundation and Plan U.K. One remarkable love story led to the setting up of the Kibera Girls School in Kenya.
Kibera is the largest slum in Africa, having more than a million people living in an area the size of Central Park in New York. It was the birthplace of Kennedy Odede who was unable to receive the education that he craved because he was too poor. He became a community organiser in Kibera and taught himself as much as he could without a formal education.
A young student Jessica Posner from Wesleyan University in the United States, chose to go to Kibera as part of her studies. She was attracted to a Theatre Group that had been set up by Kennedy and others to combat violence against women. The two originally met in Nairobi and, as Jessica puts it, it was love at first sight.
Jessica was able to help Kennedy in his attempts to run a community group called Shining Hope For Communities. She was also able to help him get a scholarship to her University, Wesleyan and this year, he gained his degree…. as he says “the first person from Kibera to study abroad and to achieve a University degree.” He also married Jessica this year and the two of them are going to continue their efforts to support their amazing creation…a Girls school that appears in the video above.
The idea that the only school in Kibera is a girl’s school is an example to the world of what can be done to facilitate the answers that giving a girl an education can help to bring about. Kibera has many many problems but educating girls can help to alleviate many of them.
Since this post is about girls education I thought that I should mention the shooting recently of Malala Yousafzai in Pakistan. This 14 year old is, at the time of writing this post, fighting for her life in a hospital here in Birmingham, U.K. after she was shot in the head because she wrote a secret blog for the BBC about girls education.
This horrible event goes to show the lengths to which some people will go in opposition to girls having the basic human right of an education and why we must continue to work to support the organisations that are trying to achieve this most important goal.
- An idea worth doing: TEDxChange @ TEDxKibera (ted.com)
- The Girl Effect (theradblog.typepad.com)
- Because… I Am A GIRL (mypenmyvoice.com)
- International Day of the Girl (worldmomsblog.com)
- Girl shot with Malala haunted by shooting (edition.cnn.com)