Educate Girls

Nicholas Kristof wrote about the Nigerian school girls on Sunday. He said that the best action we can take against groups like Boko Haram, the Islamist insurgents in Nigeria, is to help girls get an education. He made a great suggestion for Mother’s Day, and I was negligent in not sending it out to you.

Here’s what he said: “Mother’s Day is this Sunday, and, by all means, let’s use it to celebrate the moms in our lives with flowers and brunches. But let’s also use the occasion to honor the girls still missing in Nigeria. One way is a donation to support girls going to school around Africa through the Campaign for Female Education,; a $40 gift pays for a girl’s school uniform.”

It’s not too late, though Mother’s Day is past. You can still use it for another charity challenge. Perhaps it will be for your birthday or to honor your son or daughter, or grandson or granddaughter, at their graduation or birthday. Read the rest of his story – he provides some other wonderful ideas about charities that help to educate girls, charities you could support with a challenge to a loved one in your life.

I gave a talk three years ago about Georgina, a cousin of my husband’s. who must have been around 14 when I met her. She would have been finishing elementary school then, having started late as many girls did. At the time, shewasn’t in school because schooling was suspended because of the Biafran War.

I remember seeing her and other women and children fetching water from the spring a couple of miles away, climbing down a ravine with their empty clay pots balanced on their heads, and back up again, with their full pots, again carefully balanced.

There was no primary school in Nanka then, so before the war, she and her brothers attended school in the next town, about 5 miles away, walking to and fro. There was no electricity so children had little time for reading after their long walk, fetching water, and cooking.

She finished elementary school soon after the war was over.  To attend secondary school she went to live with another cousin, my brother-in-law, in northern Nigeria.  There she was expected to help around the house in return for her room and board.

She was eventually able to go further, but all the delays and the poor level of university education at the time in Nigeria meant she was unprepared for a career. She never married – she was considered too old and too educated for village men, and not qualified enough for city men. She would have been a wonderful teacher or child-care provider, but instead lived on with relatives. Her health was not a priority for anyone, and she died in her mid-40’s.

I hope with our gifts to charities like those Kristof recommends, we can end this waste of women’s lives.



Author of memoir Nigeria Revisited My Life and Loves Abroad, blogger, board member U.S.National Committee for UN Women, former Peace Corps volunteer, Unitarian Universalist, expert in nonprofit management and fundraising, certified fundraising executive (CFRE), racial justice advocate..

Posted on May 12, 2014, in children, Education, Giving, graduation, Grandchildren, international, Nigeria, Reading, School and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. Thanks, Jane. I will look for a charity that helps children around Trevor’s age. In the meantime, have you looked at Heifer?


  2. I read Nicholas Kristof’s column and was moved when I read it, as I am now, reading your blog post. I would like to find a connection for Trevor to feel he is assisting a child who is about his age.


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