Hello, everyone! I apologize that I haven't written a blog post until now. We do have the Internet but the connectivity is not always wonderful so until now I haven't been able to access my blog. This is a post I wrote last night.
First update: I’m sunburned after approximately an hour in the sun. This is what happens when you are only 14 degrees north of the Equator and taking malaria medication that makes your skin sun-sensitive. I can’t say that I am disappointed about a little sunburn, especially coming from winter in Minnesota! :
To say that Africa is amazing so far is an understatement. When our plane swooped down out of the sky yesterday and I saw Dakar for the first time, lit up by street lights in the dark, I teared up (and if you know me well enough, you know that I am not a crier!) knowing that at 31 years old, I was about to see a part of the world that most people know nothing about other than what is depicted in the media. Senegal, and I predict Africa in general, is a place of distinct contrasts. The natural beauty is breathtaking; the ocean with long stretches of beaches laced with thick, black basalt bubbled up from the Earth’s past next to piles of trash due to lack of regular garbage pick up; or the sprawling, marble-filled hotels that cater to business people and tourists next to buildings with major construction projects begging to be finished. The challenges that this part of the world faces is apparent but so is the fact that Africa is much more than it’s challenges.
To illustrate this point, we attended a presentation today by the Forum for African Women Educationalists (FAWE), a non-governmental organization dedicated to ensuring that “girls and women across sub-Saharan Africa have the chance to attend school and overcome material deprivation the social and political exclusion”. This group of strong women (and men) devotes its time to bringing educational programs into communities to encourage quality education for girls in a country that just last year faced at least 11,000 female drop outs between the ages of 12-15 due to early marriages and/or pregnancies, lack of transportation, gender violence, but mainly because of poverty. Often, families cannot afford the cost of textbooks, uniforms, and small school enrollment fees so girls stop attending school. As a mother of a daughter, the thought is simply devastating to imagine her being deprived of an education due to any of these factors. As a group, we were thoroughly impressed by their mission and many of us wonder how we can stay connected with their work. To my incredibly bright and talented GRHS students, what could we do to connect ourselves to FAWE? What do we have to offer to FAWE and/or the female students in Senegal? Finances aside, how can we support the continual improvement of access to education for girls around the world?
This blog is not an official U.S. Department of State blog. The views and information presented are the grantee’s own and do not represent the Teachers for Global Classrooms Program, IREX, or the U.S. Department of State.