Teenager Helps Girls Get on the Road to Education
A 13-year-old Burkinabé teenager from Ouagadougou is helping her rural peers get to school by bicycle, making a radical difference to their journeys to school.
Malika, an eighth-grader at the International School of Ouagadougou, has raised the money for the bicycles after hearing about Plan International’s 'Because I am a Girl' (BIAAG) campaign.
Having seen the International Day of the Girl Child celebrations on October 11, 2012 and having heard about a Plan initiative to provide girls with bicycles, Malika was inspired to help her peers.
The Long Journey to School
In Namentenga, many young girls have to walk 9 miles to and from school each day–a long and sometimes dangerous journey. As a solution, Malika, her friends, and her parents ran a stall at her school's Christmas fair, selling child rights cartoon books, publications on 'Because I am a Girl', t-shirts, and school bags collected from Plan Burkina Faso and UNICEF offices in order to raise the funds to purchase the bicycles.
Working Together to Make a Difference
After three months of fundraising with her friends, family, and local community, the teenager had raised approximately $4,000 USD, enough to buy 60 bicycles.
“I approached relatives, friends, and anyone I knew who came to our house or to my grandfather’s and found me at home,” explains Malika.
The Plan staff has made individual contributions of $2,000 USD.
A Hero for the Community
"Today, I look at all these bicycles intended for young girls like me, girls with ambition and a strong desire to learn. I feel joy at having accomplished just a small thing for other people, and at realizing that everywhere around the world are people who are concerned about the welfare of others.”
Franceline Ouédraogo, 14, has accepted the bikes on behalf of her school.
She said: “Today is an important day in our school lives, because these bikes will improve our conditions as students. For that reason, we feel grateful to Malika for her gifts; these bikes make a real difference. Thanks for relieving us of the daily painful walk we have been going through so far."
Plan Burkina Faso country director Mark Wentling said: “We need youth that makes itself useful to others, winning youth which commits itself to its community and country to participate successfully in its development. Forever, say no to failure and become winners like Malika.”
Namentenga was chosen because it is one of the 45 provinces with the lowest schooling rates in Burkina Faso. National statistics indicate that in 2011, post primary school access was 12.8% for girls and 20.4% for boys in Namentenga. Only 4.6% of these girls completed post primary school compared to 10.5% of boys. The national completion rates are 14.3% for girls and 21.2% for boys.
Schooling rates are drastically affected by the fact that children live 6-10 miles away from their schools. Parents cannot afford any means of transportation and many girls have no other choice than to walk to school.