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All Girls to School

Before we start a new project, we sign an agreement with the population of the very villages to make them promise that they will send more girls to school once the new buildings are constructed. To give further importance to this idea, the Ministry of Economic Cooperation and Development proposed us to start a campaign to increase the number of girls in classrooms. Picking up this proposal, we asked a young artist to design a poster that would communicate our idea visually.
 

poster
Patrick Rieve

 
In November 2012, we placed these posters in the nearby villages of our school projects of 2012. A short time later we discovered that all the posters had disappeared. When we asked what had happened, we were told that many people liked the pictures so much that they preferred to take them home!

Before the next school year will start in October 2013, we have planned for another action in September. A Beninese music group has composed a song in which the parents are being asked to send their daughters to school. In addition, we had T-shirts printed with a simplified version of the poster. Together with a theater group, the song, and the T-shirts, we are going to visit villages and explain the great importance of sending girls now to school and the role that female education plays for the development of countries like Benin.
 

T-shirt-1

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T-shirt-2

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For this activity, we are still very much in need of financial support!

Project Report:
All Girls to School
2014


After I returned to Benin end of 2013, together with the music group “Vie et Culture” we elaborated our song “All girls to school” and finally recorded it as a video clip on a VCD. Then we offered the song to all TV stations. Since then it is being broadcast by all those stations.

Since the new school year was to start in October, we decided to hold a 2-day workshop with the village communities of the surrounding of Sahoro in the middle of September. We wanted to discover which were the real reasons why parents in that area would not send their daughters to school. We invited the principals of all primary schools of the area, the elders of the villages, religious leaders, members of the PTAs, and students of the 6th grade. Although the workshop was held during the holiday season, more people showed up than we had expected. In addition to the 6 primary schools of the area, principals and students of 4 more schools arrived. The principals and teachers told us that this topic had been on their mind for quite some time, but that they did not have the funds to proceed with it. Thus our team was confronted with the problem of how to feed all 250 participants since we only had planned for 120. Finally the members of our team decided to spend the night in the villages of Sahoro and to use the money, originally intended for their hotel accommodations, to feed the participants.

(The problem of the area was and continues to be that the area of Sahoro is shaped by the cult of Oro. Women are not allowed to see the Oro-mask. This is the reason why all women, adult and children, stay locked inside the houses at the time of any Oro activity. Any woman who is taken by surprise by an Oro will be killed without any second thought. Men who are not yet members of the cult get the choice to join. Oro does not recognize any family bonds or friendship. The cult is mainly active in August and September. But since school starts in October after the long holidays, we had no choice but to plan our activity for “All girls to school” in September. Our members were simply afraid and insisted to spend the night in the main city of the area. This was the reason that we had prepared for extra funds to pay for the hotel bill.)
 

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IMG_3519

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During the workshop we tried to make the parents and elders pronounce the reasons why they refused to send the girls to school. Both, adults and children, participated enthusiastically in the public discussions and in the smaller working groups. The information drawn from the workshop were brought back home by our members. All this was used by our theater group and worked into several sketches.
 

Sensibilisierung 3

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Sensibilisierung 6

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Sensibilisierung 9

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On September 25th we returned to Sahoro for a one-day festival of sensibilisation. The local TV and radio stations joined us early in the morning. Wide tents and chairs were placed, speakers and microphones were installed. We had rented a large screen to project our video clip “All Girls to School”. The festival was started with a lot of music to make people come to join us. The villagers poured out abundantly. Speeches were being held to articulate our concern. Women, men, and even children came up to the microphone to talk about their view of the topic. The discussion was held openly and in mutual agreement. The sketches helped to ease tensions and to mainain the friendly atmosphere throughout the whole day. At the end of the festival our members announced that the first hundred girls, who would be registered for the first grade, would receive a T-shirt and a school bag filled with everything needed for the first school year. This annoucment was acknoledged with a long applause.

After the first week in October our members returned to Sahoro to control the inscription of the girtls. On November 6th, the T-shirts and school bags were distributed. The girls were accompanied by their mothers and also by many fathers. Both children and parents were proud of the gifts because they were proof that they belong to the progressive parents of the area.
 

Schultaschen 33

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Schultaschen 2

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Schultaschen 37

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We thank everybody who has been accompanying this project. We thank Mrs. Elke Wolf of the Ministry of Economic Cooperation and Development, who was the first to articulate the idea of this project. We thank the Fürsorge- und Bildungsstiftung who financed this project in a very generous way and thus made its realization possible. We thank the Nippon Koa Omoiyari Club for the financial support that allowed us to buy the schoolbags. We thank all collaborators and members of our partner NPO “Ecole de la Solidarité” for the professionality with which the project was realized and being taken care of.

Astrid Toda
 

Schultaschen 38 a2