My name is Siraba. I am in grade 9 at Beneko's Cliff and Nita Bailey Middle School….When I started middle school two years ago it was also the beginning of the Girls Project. Thanks to the different activities of the Girl Project, such as monthly meetings on different themes, the menstrual cycle, the meeting with women of different skills (women nurses, engineers), the women's football competition, advice and talks, etc., I started to set goals. Little by little, I started to love school.
For so many girls, trouble with shyness begins with family education and continues in school. Girls in Mali, especially in small, rural villages, continue to be unfairly discriminated against because of their sex. They are deprived of school simply because they are born girls. According to the parents in the villages their schooling is of no importance because their destiny is to be married young and to take care of household chores and children. During Mali Rising's teacher training for capacity building in December, a day was devoted solely to gender, with a theme of "Shyness of girls and gender equity in school settings.”
Mali Rising Foundation is trying something new to make sure our Girls Project is sustainable — micro-finance loans through our Mothers’ Loan Fund. With this new micro-finance project, more than 30 mothers in our three pilot villages will benefit from credit to finance their small businesses.
As part of keeping girls in school, Mali Rising’s Girls Project initiated a new activity that will allow girls to have not only theoretical knowledge but also practical knowledge. This month, our session with the girls focused on "good nutrition.” The purpose of this activity is to teach girls the different nutritious foods, the composition of a balanced breakfast, the importance of breakfast especially for teenagers, how to eat well. The aim is to give girls the love of school through the preparation of new dishes with local products. Our dish of the day was bean dumplings and vegetable salads.
If you're like me, you know you're lucky to have your amazing mother, daughter, best friend, or wife. But every year you struggle to find a gift that reflects how much you admire her strength, her grit, her kindness. What gift could possibly measure up? This year, why not give her a gift that really reflects who she is – a powerful force for good in the world. Give her a chance to help young women in Mali grow into smart, powerful, compassionate women just like her…give her a 50 Women membership.
One of the very best days of our recent trip was without a doubt the day of the big soccer match between the Beneko Birds and the Simidji Girls. These two village teams are made up of members of our Girls Groups in two of our three pilot villages for the Girls Project. Sports, and soccer in particular, are an important part of the Project — building grit and resiliency in our girls. And oh my is it working.
We’re looking for a few (okay, 50) good women to help girls in Mali go to school and use their education to change their lives, and to change our world. Are you one of those 50 Women?
Just like here in the U.S., students are out of school for the summer in Mali. At the end of each school year but before the students scatter, we hold a celebration in each of our three Girls Project pilot villages. We use the parties for serious goals (collecting feedback, engaging parents, etc.), but they are also just plain fun. I'm sharing some pictures here from the party in Kolimba, a tiny village a few hours of dusty, bouncy dirt road from the nearest pavement.
It is such an annoying grownup question, "What do you want to be when you grow up?" But it is an important question for young people as they enter middle and high school. The question is on my mind because one of many questions we ask girls participating in our Girls Project at the beginning of each school year and again at the end of the year.
At this time of year there is just so much going on at Mali Rising schools that it is hard to keep everyone up to date on all the news. Year-end exams and summer are rushing at our students, just like they are here in the United States. But I wanted to share just a little peek at something powerful girls involved with our Girls Project have been up to -- meeting with career women in Mali to explore options for their future.