Education is Worth the Walk

It takes Onia two hours to walk to
school each day.

Girls like Onia, 14, of Timor Leste, are proving that a long walk to school won’t hold them back from getting an education.

“I will make any sacrifices I have to in order to improve my future,” she said. “Even though I have to walk a long way to school, even though I get tired and hungry while on the road, even though I face many challenges just because I’m a girl, I will keep fighting.”

Onia is in grade two attending the only school in her district. School starts at 8 a.m. and there is a two-hour walk, so she has to be ready to go by 6 a.m.

Plan International USA is working to ensure all girls receive an education. Currently, there are 250 million children in school who are not learning due to the lack of quality education, but girls like Onia won’t give up.

“I have to be up very early every morning,” she said. “Before I leave for school I need to finish doing the housework, like washing the plates and collecting water. Then I get ready to go to school.”

There’s no public transportation in Onia’s community – just a pickup truck – so walking is the most common way to get around. Onia walks alone to school, passing along small roads early in the morning, which can be dangerous.

“When I get to the main road I find my friends and we all walk to school together,” she said. “We could get a ride with the truck because it passes our school, but the driver never stops for us and we don’t even have the money to pay.”

School finishes at midday, so Onia gets home at 2pm. Although her journey home is tiring and exhausting, she won’t give up her education.

“Because I want to get a better future, I have to make sacrifices,” she said. “I want to be a teacher when I grow up.”