Meet Edith, a woman who’s life was changed by her involvement in a CRS girls mentoring program in her village in Burkina Faso. Here is Edith’s story, in her own words, translated by CRS’ Helen Blakesley.
My name is Edith. I’m 23 years old. I’m a wife and mother of two children. I was lucky enough to go to school from the age of 7 and I did really well in my primary classes. But like all the girls of my generation, an early marriage awaited me. This meant that I had to leave my studies behind and dedicate myself to a new life: that of a housewife.
A housewife’s typical day is the same for all the women in my village. It means watching over the children’s education, doing work in the fields, going to collect water, cooking meals for the family.
But over the last two years, my life has changed enormously. Thanks to the school mentoring program for girls run by Catholic Relief Services, I’ve become a volunteer, a mentor. This role as mentor gives me the opportunity to support the girls in signing up for school, in their progress and in their successes at school.
The activities that I’ve done with my community through this program have meant we could sign up a lot more girls for school. We’ve prevented girls from dropping out and we’ve raised the success rate for girls in school. This has given my community a lot of hope–a whole new vision of girls’ education and the role of women.
Now, the community sees me in a new light. I’m chosen to speak about questions surrounding girls’ education and I speak on behalf of the women when it comes to questions regarding women’s roles.
I see it in their eyes: “Edith, you’re a leader now, you’re a champion.”
At home too, there’s been change. My husband is very proud that I’m a mentor and we’ve grown closer as we work together for the education of our children.
Looking back at my life, I see real changes since I became involved in the program. It’s given a new meaning to my life. From now on, I’m a leader, a woman who influences decisions, a woman who has some power to make a difference.
This program is made possible by generous funding from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) under the McGovern-Dole Food for Education program. In addition to the mentoring aspect Edith describes, through CRS the program also provides a hot meal to approximately 700 schools and 152,000 students. CRS works with nearly 30,000 community members and 3,000 teachers through the initiative with the help of many local partners, including Burkina Faso’s Ministry of Education and church partner OCADES.
Helen Blakesley is CRS’ regional information officer for West and Central Africa. She is based in Dakar, Senegal.