Ruth is a school student who we have worked with for the last 12 months. We asked her to give us her view of what it is like to be a girl living in the village. This is what she wrote.
It is a very important time for a girl to start her life in a village, from early age to adolescent period. But parents or guardians have changed the importance of this into a hurt.
In the olden days girls were not attending school at all, they were helping in the kitchen and on the farm, for some time now girls are sent to school but instead of being in school someday’s they are taken out to go to farm, giving them a portion [of the farm] to weed.
Someday’s girls carry loads harvested by farmers from their farms to get money, whether school days or not. Could you imagine that some guardians take the money from the girls, send you to market to buy the fish, soap, salt, etc. not knowing if the girl fails to bring the money, she won’t be given food to eat, she will not be given soap to wash her clothes and not even soap to bath.
Most guardians and some parents who are irresponsible make the girls take care of themselves. For them the only important thing is that the girls get food to eat, somewhere to sleep. Some girls even sleep with their parents on a piece of mat. Girls must put on dress and have something to cover their feet, which their parents do not take care of, which girls have to do it themselves.
Most girls in the village live with their relatives and are not getting the true love that parents must have for their children. My reason of saying this is because the mothers and guardians say this: “none of my own girl children reached the age which girls living with them are now and still buying panties for them.” So imagine how and where a girl of tender age like this will get money to provide these things?
Secondly, these girls are falling victims of this rampant challenge: Teenage Pregnancy.
Parents or guardians are not responsible for providing things needed, for example girls are given old clothes to put on when menstruating for the first time and are never given money to buy sanitary pads, panties, to use. Girls which cannot work to get money to buy what they need, and that encourages them to accept boys proposal to be their girlfriend because in any way these boys will give them money to acquire their needs. And paying back the boys is to satisfy them in bed and then comes pregnancy. Not always pregnancy as a result but sexually transmitted infections (STIs) occur.
This teenage mother is now coming to suffer and the worst of that, girls living with guardians are sacked from their house to the teenage husband’s [boyfriends] house, who also lives with their parents. So that becomes a huge problem. The girls have to stop school until giving birth and sometimes girls with low confidence never return back to school after delivery.
Thirdly, education becomes a problem because girls living in towns have the opportunity to be well educated for their parents know the value of education so they fight for the girls to attend schools with high levels, with appropriate learning materials, while girls in [the] village are sent to school but logistics needed are not provided, rather the girls buying their own things.
Some guardians are not ready to pay their girls fee not even money to buy food in school. So what we do is waking up at dawn, cooking food then when ready to go to school we eat that food together with parents and go to school. Then wait until closing and come back to eat then evening food in the house.
The last one, girls in villages have no way to do what they want they are always under control from their parents or guardians. Someone may ask why I am saying that? Yes, girls have no time after closing to spend in school for she has to run to the house to cook, fetch water, and rest while there is some activities to do in school after closing like football training which is also food for our health and the body. These busy girls never engage themselves in it for avoiding beatings, insults from guardians for not getting home early to do her duties.
From the Editor: Ruth has been part of the Girl Empowerment project that we have undertaken in Gboloo Kofi, a remote rural village in the Eastern Region of Ghana. She was the president of the girls club for a school term and was responsible for organising speakers to come each month to speak to the girls on topics of their choice such as feminine hygiene, careers and domestic violence. She is also part of the football team that is another element of the girls club which plays girls teams from local schools. Ruth who is from The Ivory Coast, but now lives in Ghana wants to be a teacher so she can teach French in Ghanaian schools.