During one of my recent visits to our girls’ clubs in rural Zimbabwe, I couldn’t help but notice two girls in their school uniforms sitting along a pathway in the bush.
For a moment, I thought one of them wasn’t feeling well, and they had decided to rest for a while before the long walk home.
My guess couldn’t have been more wrong. As I approached the girls, I realized they had books in their hands and were doing what, oddly enough, seemed like studying! I thought I had seen all the seemingly crazy things people do to get an education; I never imagined something of this magnitude.
The girls didn’t hesitate to tell me their story. They lived about 10 kilometres away from the school – so 6 miles or 6.2 miles – and the long walk in the sun and heat would make sure they reached home too tired to lift a book. One of the girls was quick to mention how many chores they both would find awaiting them, so many there would barely be time to study. Hence the idea of studying in the bush.
As we talked, I wondered how much danger the girls were in just being in the bush! Hunger is always a threat, but the area where they live is a game reserve, and they could encounter wild animals at any time. Then there is the human danger: rape.
This encounter drove home for me just how critical safe spaces are for girls. Safe spaces allow girls to learn, feel empowered, and to take these feelings of confidence back to their communities. They need to know that treating girls with dignity and supporting their education is important. Not only do the girls need these safe spaces, but their communities do, too!
You, the Global Sojourns Giving Circle donors, provide such safe spaces. And together, we can support more girls.