Academic, financial support make education a reality for young Ethiopian girls
For more than a year, 19-year-old Sebrina has been working as a domestic labourer and taking care of her two younger brothers in the western Ethiopian town of Assosa. She also attends school, working hard to complete her high school diploma so she can pursue a university education.
“Every day, after I go to school, I go to work cleaning and cooking for other families to get a bit of money to feed and shelter my brothers,” says Sebrina. “My parents had been supporting me as much as they could. But since they lost everything, I have had to support myself and take care of my brothers as much as I can, and try to continue my studies.”
In late 2020, when conflict between different ethnic groups in the region intensified, Sebrina’s family lost their home and property in western Oromia, located about 200 hundred kilometres from Assosa. Her parents and sisters remained in the village, living in a temporary school compound set up for victims of the conflict, while Sebrina continued her education in Assosa and was joined by her brothers.
Life is very stressful for everyone in the area. For young girls and women, the daily pressures are even greater, with high expectations to care for family and help with harvesting crops. Many are also forced into early marriage, even though the practice is illegal.
“If you are from a low-income family, growing up in Ethiopia is very challenging. You must work hard and contribute to the income of your family from an early age,” says Sebrina, adding that her mother has always been very supportive of her pursuing an education. “The security and political problems in our country make it nearly impossible to learn and work. Due to the conflict and insecurity, household supplies have become unaffordable, and people like me struggle to eat on a regular basis.”
To help with her education, Sebrina receives assistance through U-GIRLS 2, a project supported by Cuso International that began in 2019 and provides young girls and women with resources, trainings, and a financial stipend so they can focus on their studies.
“This program helps girls to be empowered and to become leaders in different fields,” says Sebrina. “Without this support, it would be very hard to survive and to participate in class and buy materials.”
Over the past year, 400 girls and women in the Benishangul Gumuz region have received the academic resources, trainings and tutorials, and stipend through U-GIRLS 2. The project works in partnership with the Benishangul Gumuz Regional Education Bureau and five secondary schools, along with the Institute of International Education. Gender-sensitivity training is also provided to teachers and schools.
With the academic and financial support, Sebrina says her self-confidence is steadily growing, and she can begin planning for future studies. She wants to attend university and hopes that all women in Ethiopia will have similar opportunities.
“I hope all women will be supported to realize their dreams and have an equal role in decision-making, both personal and within the greater society,” she says.
Thanks to our generous donors, young girls and women, including Sebrina, can focus on their education and become leaders of change within their communities. Support Sebrina and other girls by donating today.