There are many programmes in the world dedicated to educating girls, and these efforts are vital. Girls in much of the world do not have the opportunities open to boys in many ways, even to being aborted purposely because the fetus is female. We believe i the absolute necessity of educating girls.
When we educate a girl in a place like Ndawana, where the unemployment rate is at least 80%, they most often do not return to their villages if they can get employment in the cities. They contribute to their larger society, take their places in the world and show that women are equal in every way to men in their capacity to contribute. They may or may not contribute to their home villages or send money back home, and if their education was provided by outside agencies, they may feel alienated from their backward parents.
What is often missing is the need for educating women, the mothers of these or other girls. What happens when we educate these women? In 2005 we trained 12 women in the Community Oriented Primary Care model. We chose to focus on slightly older, more mature women and 11 of the 12 were mothers. Where are they today?
- 10 are still alive – two died of AIDS: Thanda in 2007, Zanele in 2008. Both were infected before they were trained.
- 2 are on treatment for AIDS, contracted before 2005 when they were trained on HIV
- The remaining 8 are still negative – they have not been infected. Our prevention programmes work with our employees.
- 6 have full time skilled positions with the Department of Health
- 4 have full time skilled positions, two at the supervisory level, with one of the largest NGOs in the country.
- The last of these to be hired needed major advocacy. In South Africa they said she is an old woman at age 57 where life expectancy is 52 for females. They do not want to invest in someone who will be eligible for a pension in three years.
- Average increase in income since starting with Edzimkulu – 12 times the starting rate
Together they have 32 children ranging in age from newborn to 27 years. Every year in January, Jim and Chris become an informal micro lending institution as we provide loans for school fees (which are always fully repaid). Every child that is eligible is in school – seven are in university or a technical institute. Up to half of the women’s salaries go to educating their children. More than half of these children are girls.
When we educate a woman, she also gains status, also contributes to her community. And she makes absolutely sure to educate every girl she can.