Meet Marie Jeanne and Martha. Marie Jeanne and her six siblings were raised by their single mother. Martha comes from a family of five.
It was only through financial assistance that Marie Jeanne completed secondary school. After graduating, she was destined to join her brothers and sisters, who work in farming. She would likely have married young so she could be supported by a husband, gotten pregnant early, given birth to many children, and struggled to support them.
Martha's father was unemployed throughout most of her childhood. Martha's parents couldn't afford to pay her school fees, so she frequently missed primary school.
Marie Jeanne and Martha are from Rwanda and Uganda, respectively. For most girls like them, the idea of completing secondary school is inconceivable. The same is true for 70 per cent of Rwandan girls*, and 81 per cent of Ugandan girls, whose lack of education perpetuates the cycle of poverty in these countries, not to mention the spread of HIV, early pregnancy, child mortality, overpopulation, malnutrition, corruption and the other obstacles that keep a population powerless and repressed. To these young women, the idea attending university and having a career is not even close to the realm of reality. But thanks to a Canadian organization, Martha is proudly pursuing a Diploma in Business Administration, and Marie Jeanne is now studying Civil Engineering in Kigali.
Martha and Marie Jeanne are changing lives because of an organization called Beautiful World Canada, which provides scholarship packages for secondary, post-secondary and vocational students in Sierra Leone, Uganda, Rwanda and South Africa. Beautiful World's local partners, which are registered charities in their own countries, provide support and encouragement to the students in their program, and monitor their success.
This February - Black History Month - consider the following statistics:
• If all women had a secondary education, child deaths would be cut in half, saving 3 million lives.
• ... 12 million children would be saved from stunting from malnutrition.
• and there would be two thirds fewer child marriages.**
• Increasing the number of women completing a secondary education by just 1% would raise a country's economic growth by 0.3 per cent.
• Each additional year of a mother's schooling can reduce the prevalence of diseases like pneumonia and measles by 14 per cent.
• If all women had a secondary education, early births could fall by 59 per cent, and mortality for children under 5 would fall by 49 per cent.***
Not only that, an educated mother is more likely to send her own children to school. Education affects not only women's families but their communities, their countries and ultimately, the globe.
"When I complete my studies, I plan to use the skills I've learned in my program to build a proper home for my mother and siblings, who struggle to find ongoing, stable employment," says Marie Jeanne. "I plan to support them to complete their education, so that they, too, can realize their dreams."
History is changing.
If you'd like to learn more about Beautiful World, the work they do and the power of sponsoring a student, please visit beautifulworldcanada.org.
* National Data from National Institute of Statistics, Ministry of Education
*** The Malala Fund
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