Young girls like Elizabeth are breaking barriers through education and setting an example to inspire others.
Limited access to education for girls in rural Sierra Leone poses a significant challenge. Discriminatory practices often rooted in cultural norms and economic disparities hinder girls from receiving the life-changing education they deserve.
Elizabeth is a 12-year-old young girl from Koinadugu District in Sierra Leone who faced similar challenges. Her dreams of education were shattered due to economic hardship at an early age.
Forced to drop out, she cared for her sick stepfather and assisted her mother on their farm. The looming threat of early marriage added to her distress. However, Elizabeth remained determined to overcome these challenges.
Unveiling Hope through End Child Marriage Programme.
Amid the chaos, Elizabeth joined Restless Development’s End Child Marriage program. Led by Restless Development, the program empowers girls through mentorship, life skills training, and educational support. Elizabeth’s parents, initially considering marrying her off, agreed to let her attend the safe space sessions. Hesitant at the beginning, Elizabeth found the safe space sessions to be nurturing and free from judgment.
When the society discussed my early marriage, I felt my dreams shatter. I found solace and strength in the safe space sessions. Today, I stand not just as a student but as a testament to the transformative force education holds for girls like me.Elizabeth
At the sessions, she received respect and the mentors were empathetic and listened to her problems. The program’s mentors noticed her desire for education, paving the way for Elizabeth’s return to school at DEC Primary School, Kafogo community.
I hesitated to attend the safe space sessions, fearing judgement. Little did I know, it was the start of a journey that would lead me to the top of my class.Elizabeth
“The End Child Marriage Program not only bridged the educational gap but also united us as a community of strong, resilient girls.”
The program bridged gaps in Elizabeth’s education, providing supplementary lessons and emotional support. In the safe space, she built solidarity with peers, forming a close-knit community that encouraged and uplifted one another. Elizabeth’s dedication led her to achieve the highest score on the National Primary School Examinations in her community.
A source of inspiration.
Elizabeth’s academic success has become a source of inspiration in her community, especially for girls facing similar hardships. Her parents, once burdened by illness and despair, have found renewed hope through her achievements, viewing education as a beacon of a brighter future for the family.
I am happy that Restless Development is supporting Elizabeth to go back to school. I am sure that in the future this will benefit our family.Marie Koroma, Elizabeth’s Mother
Today, Elizabeth is still benefiting from the educational support. Her journey from a girl at risk of early marriage to a top-performing student exemplifies the transformative potential of safe space programs for girls.