25 Miles Away from Her Dreams

Farida, 18

Six months ago, Farida, 18, started her first day of high school. It was a dream come true.

She did her best in junior high, studying hard in and listening to counsel from her elders, teachers, and leader of the teen girls club, but still, going to high school seemed like a pipe dream for a girl from a rural village like Bedaabour. “Her grades had always been the best,” Farida’s junior high teachers testified, yet she never let herself hope that she might actually be able to attend T.I. Ahmadiya Senior High School, one of the best senior high schools in the region…even after the day she gained admission.

Farida grew up in Bedaabour with her grandmother, a farmer who trades her surplus produce to make ends meet.  After completing the Basic Education Certificate Examinations that would decide her fate for high school, Farida labored on the farm every other day with her grandmother. On days she didn’t work on the farm, Farida assisted with chores at home. On the day the results came, Farida checked for the school she had gained admission to. She was overjoyed, but immediately had a pit in her stomach. She had gained admission to one of the best schools in the region, plus free tuition and meals!  But it didn’t include accommodation. The school was 25 miles away from her grandmother’s home. Commuting daily was not an option. Her grandmother could hardly provide basic necessities like toiletries to enable Farida go to school, let alone afford her transport fare on daily basis. Farida worried her dream to pursue higher education had come to a halt before they began. She needed to be admitted into the boarding house.

She shared her joys and concerns with Self-Help during the teens club meetings, and we visited the school and explained Farida’s situation and appealed to them to change her admission status from non-residential to residential. After several meetings and discussions with the school authorities, Farida was finally admitted to the boarding house. It was all joy for Farida when she got the news. Farida was able to make it to senior high school at last.

Young girls who live and school in remote areas like Bedaabour rarely make it to high school. When they do, it can be lonely since parents are rarely able to visit them due to transportation challenges. It therefore came as a welcome surprise to Farida when we paid a surprise visit to her at school and brought along gifts of notebooks and a backpack to encourage her in her studies, and enough money for transportation to go home for the holidays. She was so happy to have visitors, and assured us that her dedication to her studies will continue!

Visiting Teen Girls Club students at High School

Farida’s triumph is worth celebrating, and even more exciting is that she is not alone. All ten young women from the Bedaabour Teen Girls Club who completed JHS 3 and took the Basic Education Certificate Examination passed and gained admission into various senior high schools. SHI has visited all of them at their various schools to encourage them and rekindle their can-do spirits.

Your financial support is the reason that Farida is in school today. From offering extra academic help and books through the teens club, to ensuring skilled trainers have the transportation necessary to intervene on her behalf, to school supplies that offer continued encouragement as she continues her education so far from home, thank you for your support of Farida and so many young women like her to obtain the best education possible, no matter what community they come from.