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Grumeti Fund puts school girls on greater chance to excel

Grumeti Fund puts school girls on greater chance to excel

Hundreds of schoolgirls in Serengeti and Bunda districts have a greater chance of achieving their education dreams, thanks to ongoing Grumeti Fund girls’ empowerment sessions.

The ambitious programme involves donation of re-usable sanitary pads to secondary school girls hailing mostly from rural communities, including low-income families.

Faraja Sospeter from Nyichoka Secondary School in Serengeti district is one of the girls who have attended the empowerment sessions. “Indeed, I’m very excited, the sanitary pads we have been given by Grumeti Fund will enable me attend classes even during that critical time of the month when my periods force me to miss lessons,

” Faraja who is now17 years and in Form Four told Woman Magazine last week. Ms Frida Mollel, the Community Outreach Programs Manager at Grumeti Fund said this year alone, a total of 2,391 girls had benefited from the gramme will also help curb gender discrimination,” Mr Onderi said.

The boys welcomed the new approach and promised unconditional support to the girls. “From now on, I will be helping my younger and elder sisters in carrying out domestic chores, like fetching water and ensure that we study together and help each other in doing homework,” Masoya Joseph, a Form Three student from Rigicha Secondary School said.

Some of the boys were so inspired that they promised to begin advocating for girls’ education by saying ‘’no’’ to harmful traditions that contribute to cutting short education dreams of schoolgirls in their areas, citing female genital mutilation (FGM) and child marriages as vivid examples.

A day later, Grumeti Fund conducted another Girls’ Empowerment Session which involved 1,100 girls from four secondary schools of Ikoma, Mugumu, Sedeko and Manchira.

Apart from the training topics that involved the dangers of FGM, the girls were also given sanitary pads. ing the new initiative as very promising. She said Grumeti Fund would like to see boys becoming part and parcel of icons championing education for girls in their local areas, adding that there can be no development in society if girls are not taking part in the process.

Dr Chris Mauki, a lecturer in Social and Counseling Psychology from the University of Dar es Salaam who was the keynote speaker at the boy’s event said involvement of boys in helping girls realize their full potential is imperative.

“The girl child cannot succeed on her own without involvement of the boy child,” said Dr Mauki The Headmaster of Issenye Secondary School, the venue of the boys’ session, Mr Ezekiel Onderi commended Grumeti Fund for coming up with the new initiative, saying it would bring positive change on the status of girls’ education in the villages.

“A system of education that favors one side only is not beneficial to the community. Let me thank Grumeti Fund because this new proprogramme. “We conducted Girls Empowerment sessions in May and October this year, during which we successfully reached out to 12 secondary schools in Serengeti and Bunda districts.

The essence of this programme is to empower, motivate and inspire girls in all aspects of their lives so they may pursue their dreams,” Ms Frida explained. For a couple of years, the organization has been conducting empowerment sessions that involved secondary school girls only.

In October this year however, the Grumeti Fund went a step further and brought on board 632 male students from Nagusi, Issenye and Rigicha secondary schools in Serengeti District.

The male students gathered at Issenye secondary school to attend the first ever Girls’ Empowerment Session Through boys. “In order to succeed we definitely need the help and support of the male gender’’ Frida commented “After reaching out to more than 6,000 girls, we thought there was need to bring on board male students as well, they both constitute the entire community, and they are both responsible for it,” Ms Frida pointed out, descThese pads are reusable and can last for a whole year.

We as Grumeti Fund are happy for coming up with a solution against the challenge of menstruation period which has been facing school girls in our neighborhood,” Ms Frida said when handing over the sanitary pads to each of the 1,100 girls.

Grumeti Fund, the sponsor of the programme, invites facilitators who are successful in various disciplines to talk to the girls during empowerment sessions, a move that further inspires them to aim higher in life. The 1,100 girls were lucky to be inspired by an American lady, Rhonda Vetere, who is one of the top 10 women in technology worldwide.

Besides working hard in their studies, Ms Rhonda urged the girls to take care of themselves and beware of anything that might cut short their education dreams. “Work hard and do what makes you happy. Do not let men take your dreams. Take care of yourselves and keep focused,” Ms Rhonda who was the guest of honour during the event told the students.

Earlier, Ms Rhobi Samwely, a local activist who has devoted her time on the war against FGM in the region enlightened the girls on the dangers of FGM. “FGM has been hampering development of the girl child in Mara region. Education is life, FGM is not. This is a harmful culture and outdated,” Ms Rhobi told the students. She added: “I was personally subjected to FGM and would not like to see other girls experience that pain which I was forced to endure,”.

According to Ms Mollel, the empowerment programme was prompted by low turn up of girls who applied for scholarship opportunities, introduced by Grumeti Fund, a non-profit organization that supports conservation and community development activities in Western Serengeti.

“There was a big challenge getting female students who applied for the scholarship in 21 villages located near Ikorongo/Grumeti Game Reserves,” Ms Mollel said.

After conducting a small research, the organization spotted FGM, child marriages, early pregnancies, and lack of sanitary pads as the major challenges frustrating and discouraging young girls to reach their dreams to be doctors, pilots, lawyers, conservationists, security officials, community workers and teachers, just to mention a few.

“For instance, once a female child is mutilated, it is assumed that she is mature enough to get married. Now we want them to say no,” Ms Mollel insists.She added :“The study we did also established that many girls fail to go to school for seven days every month due to lack of sanitary pads during their menstruation period.’’ Ms Mollel is particularly happy that Grumeti Fund has been able to assist many girls with the sanitary pads under the new programme, citing a significant increase of the number of girls applying for scholarships offered by the organization in recent years as one of its greatest achievements.

“Now the number of girls and boys benefiting from our programme is equal. Every year we offer 104 new scholarships, and I’m glad to say the number of girls and boys is now equal,” Ms Mollel points out.

Apart from the girl’s empowerment sessions, Grumeti Fund also implements other outreach programmes that also include scholarships to needy students, rural enterprise development and support on social services.

Grumeti Fund is a sister organization of Grumeti Reserves, an ecotourism company that operates several worldclass lodges in Western Serengeti.

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Author: MUGINI JACOB in Serengeti

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