In the beginning of September, Malala challenged girls around the world to show their support for refugee girls by sharing a #YesAllGirls photo — just like she did with her classmates.
Girls (and boys!) from all over posted picture after inspiring picture, with each group seemingly larger than the last. One of our favorite photos came from the students at JSS Government Secondary School Federal Housing Estate in Calabar, Nigeria.
Rachel, a 13-year-old student enrolled in the Cross River State school, shared her story.
“After my dad married my mum, they had my sister and I. My father did not care for my mum because he gave her only female children. He kept late nights and had other women. My mum left after she couldn’t take it anymore. She also left us at a tender age with our grandmother. My father married another woman, who had male children for him. My step mum told my dad to send us out of the house which he did. My sister was serious about writing her Senior Secondary Exams; but due to lack of parental guidance and care on the part of both my mum and dad, my sister failed her exams. This has made life more depressing for her. Anytime I see my sister I cry, because her education has ended from the lack of concern on the part of my father, it makes me sad. I pray for my sister and don’t want her life stagnated or her education ending just like that.
“Now, for me, I have decided not to allow life circumstances to deter me from my goals. I have decided to be a medical doctor. I am more than determined to finish my education even through financial challenges. I hope one day my sister will return to school too. I believe girls are equal with boys and deserve to be educated.
“My involvement with Four Pillars PLUS program has encouraged me. It is helping me to like myself and improve my self-esteem when I go to the mentoring sessions. That is the only place I find encouragement. I am always happy when I am in the mentoring session.”
Since 2008, the Four Pillars PLUS program has provided scholarships, mentoring opportunities and teacher professional development and encouraged community participation in an effort to improve the quality of education for vulnerable child populations, especially girls, in primary and secondary school. The third iteration of the program launched in 2016 in Calabar, Cross River State, Nigeria, and will reach 4,800 adolescent girls and boys across four public schools.