Non-profit

Celebrating International Day of Girl Child: How AfricAid is Empowering Girls in Africa

INTERVIEW Afric Aid

In a study published by Oxfam for the African region, equal numbers of boys and girls which is known as ‘gender parity’ in primary education will not be reached until 2038 if the rate of progress remains the same. Many civil society organizations have come forward to help increase the rate of development. One such non-profit is AfricAid

In our recent interview to celebrate International Day of Girl Child, we spoke to Jessica Love, Executive Director, AfricAid, to learn about the situation of girls in Africa and how the non-profit is impacting their lives for good.

Q
How is AfricAid helping girls in Africa?

AJessicaAfricAid supports locally-led mentoring programs run by our sister organization based in Tanzania. They run two core mentoring programs for girls in secondary school. One is the ‘Kisa Project’ which is a mentoring course that prepares girls to go to university and create positive change in their communities. It is a two-year program that teaches girls confidence and leadership abilities. It not just instils a sense of worthiness among girls but also proves to the community that girls can and should play a key role in solving problems and creating solutions. 

‘Binti Shupavu’ is the other core mentoring program run by our partners. Here the focus is on increasing graduation rate for vulnerable girls. It is a four-year mentoring program for girls during their first four years of secondary school. The goal of this program is to teach girls study skills, health, self-confidence and all the things they need inside to make sure that they stay in school and follow their dreams, the way they want to. 

Q
What motivates you to help these girls?

AJessica: We’re so lucky to be born in a place where we are fortunate enough to be in a position to receive an education that nobody deters us from, to be in countries where we have free education. I think that has weighed a lot on me in my life and seeing how women are treated in so many countries. I have a young daughter myself and I think a lot about if only she were born in Tanzania or Afghanistan and how different her life would have been. I think that drives me every day to support these incredible programmes that our partners run in Tanzania because they’re changing the future for girls and giving girls that confidence, self-worth, to stand up for themselves and to follow their dreams and write their own stories before somebody else can write it for them.

Q
How is your project working to achieve these goals?

A: Jessica: Our local partners on the ground do extensive measurement and evaluation work, and they find, year after year, that the girls who graduate from the Kisa Project and Binti Shupavu are more likely to graduate. Their pregnancy rates are far, far lower than the national average for girls of similar age in Tanzania. They also find that girls are not only graduating at higher rates but they’re passing their final exams with higher test scores than their peers.

Our partner has always made a point in their programs to involve parents because parents are such critical decision-makers in girls’ lives. During the pandemic, our they created a 24-hour, toll-free hotline that was available to girls. If they needed anything, they could call. Girls and their families were engaged through the process in a number of ways. And that resulted in a higher return rate to school.

Q
What are the challenges that you face or face, keeping in view the region that you are working in?

A: JessicaThrough COVID, our partners on the ground are making quick and real-time decisions. Girls faced a number of challenges at home, and our partner worked quickly to ensure girls’ had access to study materials and other educational support, but also supported their overall health and safety, including food deliveries to families that were facing food insecurity. Our partners were able to work in tandem with the government and social workers to help girls who found themselves in terrible situations and get them to safe environments so they wouldn’t be married at a young age and could return to their studies. Some girls became pregnant during school closures, which means they could not return to their education in Tanzania.

A big challenge during COVID in Tanzania and a lot of other countries in Africa is that there were girls who just couldn’t afford to buy certain basic needs. A recent study by one of our partner organizations, Amplify Girls, found that transactional sex happened more frequently during school closures, which resulted in pregnancy and prevented girls’ return to school. There were just a lot of challenges – the biggest being that mentors were not able to be with the girls in person.  That close, deep connection between a girl and her Mentor is a central focus and key piece of the mentoring programs we support.

Q
I would like for you to take this opportunity to send out a message to the women, young and girls at large.

A: JessicaI think I would say to any girl that you are worthy and have the ability within you to decide to design the life that you want to live for yourself. Find the people in your life who encourage you to do that, and to help you grow and make your own decisions. You have the confidence inside of. Sometimes it just takes the right person to bring it out. Find a mentor who can help draw out qualities in yourself that you didn’t even know that you had. And then, follow your dreams. That would be my wish for girls.

Q
I’d like for you to bust certain myths about educating girls and which would help people support this cause better.

A: JessicaEducating girls and investing in girls’ education improves entire societies. It is the most cost-effective investment an individual, a community, or government can make in reducing poverty. Educated women reinvest in their families and secure better jobs. Educated women have children that grow up healthier and wealthier and their children are more likely to attend school. It is a ripple effect that if a girl goes to school, it improves not just her future but her family’s future too. Over time, this improves entire communities.

Q
What are some things that the people who are corporate volunteers, individuals can do to help nonprofits like yours support this cause at large?

A: JessicaFor us and so many nonprofits, money equals mission. The more funds we have, the more we can put girls into these programs and expand the programming. But I think sometimes there’s a misconception that the only means we want is donations which is not true. It is so important to us to have volunteers from platforms like Goodera who can engage in skills-based volunteering that can help us extend our reach. The way we raise money is by reaching more people.  Having more support for social media, storytelling and other activities that help to get our messages out there, can be tremendously helpful to our work. We all can do something to contribute. It doesn’t always have to mean money. We can all dedicate our time and our talents in a lot of different ways to help nonprofits raise those critical funds.

Q
Any message you’d like to give to leave for potential volunteers?

A: JessicaTaking the first step of picking a project and then completing it is the best thing you can do! You won’t know the great work that you can do until you click ‘Accept’ on a project. We’ve had so much great support for things that you might not even think are helpful, from graphic design to communication and strategic planning support. A lot of that comes from just one-hour phone calls or conversations with people who have specific expertise that we can’t afford as an organization. You have talents and skills, and it costs nothing to get on the phone and just share your knowledge. So: just click on a project and get started, because you’ve got something wonderful to offer, and there are nonprofits like AfricAid that will benefit so much from your expertise!

Learn how you can raise your voice and make an effect with Goodera

We have numerous volunteer activities planned at the Goodera to engage volunteers around the subject of International Day of Girl Child. This topic asks us to make society more inclusive for girls and advocate for their rights. You can help AfricAid by participating via Goodera’s virtual volunteering experience. The experience is powerful and engaging, making it an excellent choice for getting you started on your virtual volunteering adventure.

Interested? Reach out to us here.

Are you a nonprofit looking for volunteers? We can help! Talk to us.

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