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Will you help girls beat the odds and realise their dreams?

Will you help girls beat the odds and realise their dreams?

Photo: Corinna Kern/Oxfam

Esnat (pictured second from left above) used to arrive at school every day feeling completely exhausted. She's 15, and lives 25km from her nearest school in southern Malawi. Every morning, she would wake to the prospect of a two-and-a-half-hour walk to school. The round trip meant Esnat walked more than a marathon every day.

"The journey was hard. I would be tired and used to doze off in class," she says. "I would sleep when I got home. I didn't study as I was too tired. I was under-performing in my lessons because I was either absent or not concentrating."

Photo: Corinna Kern/Oxfam

"'Even if I am happy here in class, what will happen to me on my way home?' These were some of the questions I would be thinking instead of concentrating on my schoolwork." Grace

Esnat's friend Grace, who’s also 15, faced a similar struggle.

Her friend Grace (pictured above), who's also 15, faced a similar struggle. Grace is extremely driven and has her sights set firmly on becoming a nurse. She also has no doubt about the value of educating girls: "If you teach a girl," she says, "you're teaching the whole nation."

But her two-hour walk to school sapped her energy, and parts of the journey made her feel vulnerable and unsafe.

The threat of both girls dropping out of school - in a country where only 40 per cent of women have any secondary education - was very real. But a simple and very effective solution - bicycles provided by Oxfam - has transformed school life for Esnat and Grace.

How your donation can help girls stay in school

  • Providing bikes so girls can travel to school safely, and arrive feeling alert and ready to learn
  • Funding community groups to support and encourage girls to stay in school
  • Launching clubs in schools where children discuss issues such as early marriage and pregnancy

Donate today and you can help many more girls like Esnat and Grace move closer to their dreams.


Photo: Corinna Kern

School life today is completely different for Grace and Esnat. "The moment I received the bike, I knew that all my problems were gone," smiles Grace. "I can get to school in no time, and I am able to go through my books before the teachers even arrive here at school.

Photo: Corinna Kern/Oxfam

"This bike has helped me stay in school and has helped me fight poverty, because otherwise I might have dropped out of school. These bikes have also inspired other girls to come back to school."

Esnat’s bike has transformed her schooling.

"I cannot explain my feeling while I was transporting the baby to hospital. I was telling Ali, 'You should be alive!"

"I believe there is some connection. We are helping people. I feel some connection with that baby."

Sarina raced to the hospital with Ali, along with Raina's husband Ricky. Eliza waited with Raina at the clinic and helped her recover. "My blood pressure was getting higher, because I was afraid of losing Ali," says Raina. "I didn't know what would happen."

At the hospital, Ali was given the treatment he needed, and he cried for the first time. "My husband told me that Ali was OK," says Raina. "I felt happy after hearing that Ali was OK. I couldn't eat until I heard that Ali had cried."

"If there was no health centre nearby… if the midwife was not able to help us, Ali would have died."

Photo: Corinna Kern

"I was really concerned because all my dreams and what I wanted to become was wasted," Grace

We're also training groups of women to mentor and support girls, like Angela [pictured above], who have dropped out of school after getting pregnant. Because of their mentoring role, the groups are known as 'mother groups'.

Angela was a star pupil, and the support she received from one of the mother groups gave her the confidence to return to school. "I was really concerned because all my dreams and what I wanted to become was wasted," Angela says. "But the mother group encouraged me and as of now I am back in school and will be able to realise my dreams.When I returned to school, I was welcomed by teachers, and my friends treated me like one of them."

Donate today and you'll help many more girls like Esnat, Grace and Angela to stay in school and thrive. As Grace said, ensuring more girls can study today helps whole communities beat poverty tomorrow.

Stay in school appeal

Please donate today to give more girls the support they need to stay in school and beat poverty.

£33 could train seven teachers to talk to children about topics such as early marriage and pregnancy.

£53 could provide a bike so girls can travel to school safely and arrive alert and ready to learn.

£104 could pay for school fees and equipment for two girls, helping them to stay in school.