“Girl Child Education is a Wasteage of Time”

I still remember when I first went to Uganda, and I visited the classroom on debate day. The 4-6th graders all get together and have a full-on debate, with moderators, score keepers, and formal statements and responses. For those who aren’t familiar with debate structure, there’s a given statement that one side “affirms” and the other side “negates.” Walking into the room, I read the statement on the board: “Girl child education is a wasteage of time.” I was shocked. To my liberal, educated, western mind, this topic was so clearly negated that it seemed taboo to even be up for debate.

I sat down, and proceeded to listen to what the children had to say. Over the hours of hearing these 4th-6th graders talk, I came to understand. This is a very real battle for these girls. While Solid Rock School firmly teaches that both genders are equally valuable, that is not the predominant message of the culture around them. Were they not in school, they could have been “married off” for a bride-price by 16. I don’t believe that the students arguing the affirmative side believed their arguments (it was a class project, after all), but I do think that adults in these students lives do.

One student, Lenia Leaneda, was on the “negative” side. Passionately, she argued for her own equality, and for the right and value of her and her sister’s education. I was in awe. She, a 6th grader, stands up for herself in a powerful way. Being at Solid Rock Christian School gave her the language and the platform to articulate exactly why she was worth it. To know that we who are a part of Zozu Project are a part of breaking the cycle of poverty and inequality, and to see evidence of it standing before me, was humbling. And there are over 100 girls at Solid Rock, with, God willing, many more to come in the future.

Lenida Lenia singing at chapel on a Wednesday

We are so proud and blessed to educate the young people of Uganda, boys and girls alike, to learn that they are all made individually, lovingly, and for great purposes. So while I’ve been told that people’s attention spans these days are short, and no one reads long things, I think that this poem is worth sharing:

For Every Woman
By Nancy R. Smith

“For every woman who is tired of acting weak when she knows she is strong,
There is a man who is tired of appearing strong when he feels vulnerable.

For every woman who is tired of acting dumb, There is a man who is burdened with the constant expectation of ‘knowing everything.’

For every woman who is tired of being called
‘an emotional female’
There is a man who is denied the right to weep and be gentle.

For every woman who feels ‘tied down’ by her children, There is a man who is denied the full pleasure of parenthood.

For every woman who is denied meaningful employment and equal pay,
There is a man who must bear full financial responsibility for another human being.

For every woman who was not taught the intricacies
of an automobile,
There is a man who was not taught the satisfaction of cooking.

For every woman who takes a step toward her own liberation, There is a man who finds that the way to freedom
has been made a little easier.”

 

I personally sponsor Winnie Letasi. In her bio, I read that she wanted to be a police officer when she grew up. That’s bravery right there, police officer in rural Africa. I cannot wait to meet her in person, tell her how beloved she is, encourage her in her dreams, and see her grow into who she was made to be.

Elsie

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