In early February, our girls at our partner schools in Mozambique had their first day of school. For many of the girls, it was their first day of school ever and there was a tangible feeling of excitement in the air. We want to share a quick recap of their first day of school so you can join in with the excitement and get to know the girls a little bit better!
This year, we have more than 100 girls across our three partner schools - 12 girls (all of whom are orphans and unable to pay for tuition) in our private preschool run by nuns, and the rest in primary school, and secondary school. We’re still in our first year of this program and are blown away by the number of girls we’re able to support!
For their first day, things started off slow, intentionally easing the girls into a new year. They received their new uniforms (a requirement to attend school in all schools in Mozambique, even though many of the teachers allowed the girls to attend without them in the past, because of the how poor the village is), backpacks, and other school supplies. Since most of the girls didn’t know each other or the teachers ahead of time, the day consisted mostly of icebreakers and learning each other’s names. The girls’ parents were allowed to stay for most of the day to learn about the teachers and see the supplies their children would be using. There was a lot of dancing, smiling, and laughing, even amid the excitement.
Percina told us a lot about the first day, but there are a few girls in particular who stood out to her.
Ayanda didn’t know anything about school, and since her mom never went to school either, she was very nervous and hesitant to attend in the first place. However, when she saw her uniform and backpack for the first time, you could see a glimmer of excitement light up her face. Percina and the other leaders told her that the uniform and backpack were her’s to use if she decided she’d like to learn. After that, she jumped right in. After seeing her uniform and backpack, she knew she belonged.
Another girl who stood out to Percina was a tall orphan named Esmenia. At 13 years old, she spoke Portuguese in addition to Changana, the local language, which is uncommon for a girl her age; a sign that she is well-educated. Esmenia is poor, with no mother or father, and has never traveled to the capital city of Maputo, yet she works incredibly hard at school and has already learned how to speak the national language. After their first meeting, Percina could tell that Esmenia hasn’t let her hard upbringing stop her from working toward her dreams and getting an education.
Ayanda and Esmenia aren’t the only girls who have faced hardships. In fact, the majority of our girls have never had the opportunity to attend school because of transportation difficulty, school fees, or their parents' inability to afford uniforms and supplies. Kurandza intentionally chooses the most vulnerable girls in our village, which includes orphans and also girls who may have one or two parents, but who don’t have the means to pay for their school expenses.
You can tell just by looking at the smiles on their faces that our girls are so excited for the chance to attend school. The first day was just the beginning and they’ve already learned so much in a few short months.
Aside from the academic knowledge they’re gaining, our girls are exposed to a simple truth that has the power to change their entire life. Kurandza’s number one objective is to build self-esteem in our girls. Before starting our sponsorship program, we studied the village and learned that there was a startling lack of education and self-esteem, especially amongst the girls and women. This increased the likelihood that the girls would run off or marry the first man who promised them stability because they didn’t see any other option for their future.
Kurandza aims to give our girls confidence through the knowledge that they have options. With a basic grasp of education and life skills, our girls can grow into women that know their dreams can come true. Currently, many women depend on the men in their lives, without a knowledge of their role or place in the world. We want to help them become empowered to make their own decisions and become their own beautiful, strong, independent people
The first day was small victory for empowering women and communities in Mozambique and it wouldn’t have happened without your support! We’ll be sharing updates throughout the year, so stay tuned. If you’re as inspired by the first day of school as we are, click here to learn about joining our cause and supporting our Holistic Education program, which teaches our girls skills they need to make their dreams come true.