Anyone for a sleepover?

Friday, 13 May 2016

This blog is written by RIPPLE Africa Project & Volunteer Coordinator, Nikki Luxford

Teenage girls really are the same the world over. On Monday I visited the girls’ dormitory at Kapanda Secondary Day School as it has now opened and the first 20 or so girls have moved in. Once we asked for a photo the girls struck their best poses like most girls their age!

Striking a pose Striking a pose

The building was partly funded by Paul Gudgeon in memory of his late wife Molly Gudgeon, and by Annie and Graham Boon. Despite the opening being delayed slightly, it’s great to see the girls are now moving in and living together.

The aim of the dormitory is to provide a safe place for the girls who are primarily in Form 2 and Form 4 so they are able to focus on their studies as these are the equivalent to GCSE and A-level years in the UK.

Ordinarily girls don’t do as well at school because they either get kept at home to help with farming and/or look after younger children or they get married and/or get pregnant.

However, this girls’ dormitory is the ideal place for these girls to have the best chance at finishing their education, key to a positive future.

As we wandered from room to room, the girls were busy with their heads in their books studying. Each room sleeps four and most are mixed with Form 2 and Form 4 girls.

Despite the disruption from us asking to take a few photos, they were revising biology, English, social science and mathematics.

 Gertrude studying from the comfort of her bed Gertrude studying from the comfort of her bed

 Happy smiles! Happy smiles!

I asked one of the girls Gift (who is the daughter of Esther who manages Lowani) whether they’d actually had any sleep on their first night. Her answer that they’d gone to bed and slept was a surprise as I can remember the sleepovers when I was their age, and we were always up talking for hours.

In some respect, they value education much more here than in developed countries as they know it is not a given right but an opportunity.

Each girl has to contribute to staying at the dormitory, and they each provide a bag of maize flour too which is turned into their staple diet of nsima.

 Storeroom filled with sacks of maize flour Storeroom filled with sacks of maize flour

After the girls had finished proudly showing off their rooms, and posing for photographs we left them to study.

As we drove down the track we came across two other girls who had clearly packed up their belongings at home and were on the move into their new home. No need for a delivery van here, they balance their bag or suitcase on their head – and no teary eyed parents either.

 On the move On the move

In some way the similarities of these girls posing for photographs is mirrored to western societies yet on the other hand, the fact that the girls take themselves off to their new lodgings without a parent is in some way, quite different to back home.

I remember lots of tears and my parents driving me to the airport, although maybe that was to make sure I’d gone and they could enjoy the peace and quiet! 🙂

There are still more amazing projects which need support and require funding. Have a look around the website to see how RIPPLE Africa is ‘Providing a Hand Up, Not a Hand Out’.

If you’d like to make a difference and support a project you can donate here. Thank you!