The Courage to Help a Friend
Ramatou Sambo is 12 years old, enrolled in public primary school in the village of Maréguinta in Benin. Fatherless, Ramatou lives with her mother. Last year, she had a narrow escape: Ramatou’s friends at school prevented her family from forcing her to drop out of school to get married.
Ramatou started missing school, and her friends found out that her parents were planning to make her get married. For most girls, this would be the end of the story. But girls at Ramatou’s school participate in CARE’s EDUFIG project, which focuses on keeping girls in school, and builds leadership skills with girls and community awareness with their families. These girls know about their rights, and how to ask for help. In a culture where girls are expected to quietly do as they are told, Ramatou’s friends found the courage to say no.
The girls went to the Students’ Mothers Association and to Ramatou’s parents to stop the wedding. Ramatou’s parents have now publicly renounced of the project of marrying their daughter early. Ramatou has gone back to school and at the end of last year, Ramatou was planning to continue school.
For the 39,000 girls who are married before the age of 18 every day, school can be a powerful tool to prevent the loss of their childhood. Building networks of informed, capable girls can help girls work to solve their own challenges.