Teenage girls, graduates of the kindergarten in South Sudan supported by my friend, Carolyn Murray MBE, are selling themselves to pay for soap and food for their families as a result of the Covid-19 epidemic. So she is now seeking funding for a special educational project.
“Girls are now like chicks in an open space as prey for an eagle to feed on,” stated Malish Simon Lo Thomas, the head teacher of Immanuel Kindergarten School in Yei (pronounced Yay), in a letter to Carolyn. In this he and Juan Margret Lomora, Director General of the Ministry of Education in Yei and a kindergarten governor, outlined a proposal which will not only educate teenage girls but aims also to provide them and their families with the basic necessity for fighting Covid-19 – soap.
Malish said that due to civil war the majority of young people in South Sudan have only known war, violence and deprivation. He added that many people in Yei, which is near the Ugandan border, are weak due to the poor quality and limited availability of food and consequently vulnerable to the Covid-10 pandemic and other diseases. This is made worse by the lack of sufficient good quality health facilities and, as a consequence, there are high mortality rates, he said.
He explained: “Many people are traumatised with the magnitude of many bad occurrences they have witnessed and made them hopeless.
“All the learning institutions are closed … as a way to curb the Covid-19 pandemic. But it becomes a hazardous situation to our girls who are still school-going age. Many girls are now forced or run for marriage and others are raped.”
He told Carolyn that some girls were “selling themselves” to pay for soap and food for their families and that was resulting in pregnancies.
He said: “As usual, we are vigilant to issues facing our communities. We are seeking support to help our girls.”
The proposal is to use local radio broadcasts and workshops at the five senior schools in Yei to raise awareness and teach life skills.
Carolyn said that many girls were orphans or their parents lived in refugee camps. They had to live with relatives to have access to schools – and that meant they did not have priority when the host families were short of money.
Their budgets would not cover the cost of travel to workshops or the food provided after a teaching session. So those costs are included in the project proposal.
Carolyn explained: “They will bring the girls in in cohorts of 30 over five days to enable social distancing. They would ideally like to give each girl some soap (a long bar of five pieces) as part of the training will be about Covid-19.”
The project will also have to cover the cost of providing each girl with an exercise book and pen as well as flip charts.
“When I did teacher training in August last year I was amazed how folk lapped up anything I said and all notes were copied to be reviewed later,” Carolyn commented.
It is estimated that £3,000 is needed and donations can be made to the specific project via GoldenGiving/../Yeigirls “Even if we don’t get anywhere near that any small amount raised will be used to help make a difference to the girls and their families,” Carolyn said.