By Hindaty Traore, Girls Project Coordinator
This year the Girls Project has respected the tradition it has established during the first year of the project in 2016: to bring together, after nine months of hard work by girls, parents of students, teachers, and students to pay tribute to each person for their involvement during the school year. We call this event Feast for Feedback, because it is both a celebration and a chance for the whole village to be involved with the Girls Project.
So, this year in the school yard of Kolimba on a Saturday like no other, parents of students, teachers, and girls shared a day of joy dedicated to the schooling of girls.
Everyone was beautiful and well dressed. The schoolgirls had stormed the courtyard of their school, but without schoolbags or notebooks in hand. The atmosphere within the property was not that of a day of classes. Understanding that on such an occasion things are more free and open, the principal of the school was not the one everyone feared as they might usually.
The party started with musical entertainment. This festival is an opportunity for girls to express themselves and entertain themselves through songs and dances, artist imitations, poetry, and many games such as:
The headscarf: which consists of tying the headscarf to the eyes of girls and asking them to find gifts in the circle,
The greedy: which consists of making the girls eat bread, with the one who finishes the first the winner,
The dance-off: contest between girls, dance competition on bare foot,
·The race: which consists of picking up items to drop off at the other camp, and the best of each game were given gifts.
Before the Girls Project arrived in the three pilot villages, at the end of the school year, the girls were sent directly to the fields to grow or prepare the meal at home and then take it to the field on foot or by cart. They had no celebration after nine hard months of study. Thanks to Mali Rising and the Girls' Project, they always look forward to the big end-of-school party.
To close the party, fat rice with beef and juice were served. The girls and other students clung around the dishes in small groups, something they were not used to. In these villages, rice, especially fat rice, is eaten only during the holidays. Such rich food is a real treat because during the school year girls walk 2 to 6 kilometers to get to school with only sugar-free porridge for their breakfast and lunch. According to the girls, this holiday is a joy that the Project brings them.
Joy could be seen on everyone's faces, especially girls. This end-of-year party program has become a habit that villagers want to continue even after the Project, as it is an opportunity to raise awareness among students and parents of students through the messages we give them to this opportunity. It creates the emulation of the joy of participating as a girl. The successful girl encourages other parents to enroll their daughters in this group of educated and awake girls. It is also a way of giving love of school to our girls.