A most meaningful gift


Blog on her recent trip to Ghana by Sarah Blizzard, Development Writer, CARE

Today, I received one of the most meaningful gifts I have ever been given – a bouquet of flowers from the Girls' Club in the village of Manso Nkwanta in the Ashanti region of Ghana.

When I first arrived in the village, I was greeted by the Girls' Club, who were dressed proudly in their yellow club T-shirts, marching and singing as they lead me to the center of their community.

On the walk from the primary school into town, I learned why the girls had such big smiles on their faces: until CARE started the girl's education project here girls were not allowed to drum – only boys were. Now the girls can drum and do so much more!

I spent the day talking to the village chiefs, mothers, daughters and teachers, learning about the difference CARE has made in their community. This village, like most of Ghana, is a community built on the physically-demanding work of farming. It is a place where, until recently, education was undervalued, especially girls' education.

As Chief Apenkra Gymmy explained to me, "In my time, girls were not going to school." Chief Owusu Adiomi shared, "In the past, we used to send children to farms."

Before CARE started working in their village, fathers and mothers alike thought that the place for their girls was in the home babysitting their siblings, in the kitchen cooking for the family or on the farm helping their parents earn a living.

The situation is so different now. It is difficult for me to imagine that Grace, who loves to study math and wants to be a banker when she grows up, or Abena, who wants to be a nurse so that she can help others to be healthy, could have ever been denied an education simply because they are girls.

Today, parents understand the importance of their daughters going to school rather than working in the house, and girls want to go to school, too. They want to play on their new playground. They want to be proud members of the Girls' Club. And they want to be educated.

Women, who were never educated because their parents could not afford to send them to school or did not see the importance of educating a girl, are now seeing their daughters learn, grow and dream of using their education to improve their communities.

As Abena's mother Gifty explained, "Before CARE, the other parents and I used our girls for household chores and did not understand the problems we were causing our daughters by denying them education. Now, we have learned a lot about the importance of girls' education and why we should not put so many burdens on them in the household. Now, my daughter hurries to school every day."

At the end of my day in Manso Nkwanta, the Girls' Club inspired and encouraged me with their pep song, and I would like to share it with you. It's called "I Have Decided to Be Educated" and goes like this:

I have decided to be educated,
I have decided to be educated,
I have decided to be educated,
And nothing can change my mind.

Financial problems cannot deter me,
School conditions cannot deter me,
Peer group pressure cannot deter me,
So nothing can change my mind.

Parental attitude cannot deter me,
Traditional beliefs cannot deter me,
Teenage pregnancy cannot deter me,
Nothing can change my mind.

Because I have decided to be educated,
I have decided to be educated,
I have decided to be educated,
And nothing can change my mind!

Members of the Girls” Club proudly drum and march through their village, showing pride in their education and encouraging other girls to go to school. (2009 Sarah Blizzard/CARE)