Thank you for your support of GirlsGain. The amazing young Ethiopian ladies leading the project could not be as successful without your support. These young ladies have passion, focus and understanding of the local culture which is invaluable.
We are nearing completion of our seventh year of empowering young girls in rural central Ethiopia. We have worked in 48 communities and will be expanding into new communities next year. As part of our growth we continue to work with traditional tribal, religious and community leaders. As we move forward, we will continue to monitor earlier communities to confirm that programs continue to be successful at empowering girls so they can gain equal opportunity.
We are pleased to share that in the latest quarter 501 girls who had previously dropped out of school returned! There were 2,590 girls who received academic tutoring and life skills training in the latest quarter! In addition 1,557 boys also received such training. We encourage parents to include boys in these classes as we want the current and next generation to learn about the value of young girls and ladies as well as health, nutrition and how to mature into responsible young adults.
Eight schools were identified for creating access to potable water from existing sources and building separate sanitation facilities for boys and girls. The girls were also trained on how to make reusable sanitary pads.
140 girls from 20 communities were trained in peace building, which focuses on conflict management and mitigation. They are now leading training of these skills in their schools.
All the Micro-finance groups we started over the last seven years are thriving. There currently are over 3,600 young women, mostly married and with families, active in these micro-finance groups. In addition to their financial growth, they too have received training in health, nutrition, and conflict management, etc.
Success comes in many small steps. Here is the story of a member of one of the Micro-finance groups. Medina is 18 years old, mother of two, and an Ethiopian entrepreneur with a dream. She started selling a few onions and tomatoes. After education about the value of saving, she took out a $17 loan from a cooperative savings and loan group in her village and bought various grains to plant. She repaid the loan within two months and borrowed enough to buy livestock. If her business continues to grow, she hopes to make enough to send her children to school.
Young African women like Medina with small plots of land but big ambitions are playing a major role in the continent’s economic development. As these young ladies learn new skills, they also gain respect in their families and communities building a strong environment where all prosper.
As these programs grow the attitudes change in these villages. Respect for the role of girls and women has grown as fathers, husbands and brothers better understand and respect the role girls can play in a successful society.
When Bishop Abraham asked me to start this program, I had already retired from the corporate world. My personal experience and my wife’s passion for helping people, inspired me to try and help young girls and women gain the confidence and knowledge to reach their potential. My Mother lost my Dad before I knew him, and she only had six years of schooling. This difficult situation and lack of education limited her opportunities.
Traditional practices influence people in many ways. Women’s daily lives are long and arduous, carrying water long distances, caring for children, and working in the fields. Although it is illegal, an estimated 3 million African girls a year are at risk for female genital mutilation. Many girls receive very limited or no formal education. Other harmful practices, many of which are illegal, hold back girls from gaining the confidence they need to thrive.
At GirlsGain, we facilitate programs and discussions so girls can complete their education. They learn academic and vocational skills, hygiene and sanitation skills, and their legal rights. Older teenagers also learn skills that help them earn, spend, and save wisely through community saving and loan groups like the one that helped Medina.
I am blessed to be the volunteer program facilitator for GirlsGain. The program has helped over 10,000 girls and thousands of family members, classmates, neighbors and community leaders. As more girls turn 12 each year and we expand into new communities we should more than double our outreach by the end of our next cycle. When we give girls the knowledge and confidence to reach their potential, we make the world healthier, more stable, and safe.
We pray that our efforts will help GIRLS GAIN CONFIDENCE AND THE RESPECT they deserve.
Art Wigchers, 2022