Women for Girls started with a trip to Senegal in October 2005.
A Senegalese friend described the situation of a 12 year old who left her native village that summer and travelled 200km to Dakar looking for work. Finding work would enable her pay the necessary fees to stay in school. Her name is Adama. And she went door to door searching for someone who could use her domestic help. By chance, she found our friend’s mother who was willing to hire her.
Considering the our reality in Europe and the USA, we were touched by the plight of this girl. Her desire to stay in school was so strong that she braved living in chaotic Dakar to work as a domestic. Through our friend, Abdoulaye, we promised Adama and her family, that we would pay her school fees, books and supplies as long as she studied, got high grades and stayed in school.
When we told our friends in New York City about Adama, everyone wanted to contribute in some way, and the idea of Women for Girls was born. The goal was to give the possibility of education to girls whose life situations did not offer them the opportunity.
When girls are denied education, the circle of poverty continues. These girls are destined to remain second class citizens, unaware of their human rights. Women for Girls started with one girl, actually, two -- Adama has a twin sister, Awa, and is in continuous growth. We currently have many girls enrolled in the program and five micro credit initiatives.
If we look at the global statistics: 67,000,000 children out of school, everything we do seems like a drop in the ocean. However, each one of these girls is making the most out of her new opportunity. Throughout the years, we have realized that our grass roots approach has had great success with the girls, their schools and their families. This type of collaboration works. And research also shows that girls’ education is the key to fighting poverty.
Twice each year we travel to Senegal to visit teachers, school directors, the girls and their families, who are beginning to understand the importance of education. An African proverb says that when you educate a boy you educate an individual but when you educate a girl you educate an entire community. These girls have the chance to break the cycle of poverty. An education allows them to fulfill their dreams and in the future they will have a positive impact on their community, first hand and then through the education of their children.