Leah from Tanzania
In Tanzania, many families prioritise their son’s education over their daughters, believing that a girls’ education is not as important as boys. This was certainly Leah’s story.
“I had a dream of becoming a doctor and saving people’s lives, but that dream faded four years ago when my father became ill,” she says. “My family decided that I should drop out of school so I could take care of the family while my brother continued with his studies.”
Despite her yearning for the classroom, this bright young woman spent four years performing household chores, looking after her younger siblings, and performing farm work.
“I tried to talk to my parents about going back to school after my father’s health improved, but I was told that education is for boys because they are stronger and their chances of becoming successful are much higher than mine,” says Leah.
Leah obeyed her parent’s wishes and did not bring up the subject of her education again.I couldn’t refuse to drop out of school because I didn’t know my rights; girls didn’t have the right to speak!
But then she heard about Plan International’s Keeping Adolescent Girls in School (KAGIS) project, which aims to help nearly 3,000 out-of-school girls back into the classroom. As part of the project, Champions of Change clubs were set up to challenge the harmful stereotypes that perpetuate discrimination and inequality.
With permission from her parents, Leah was allowed to join one of the clubs when it started operating in her community in early 2022. “After joining the club and learning about being assertive and gender aware, I am now aware of my rights and can confidently express my opinions to my family and other community members,” she says.
Three months later, Leah managed to persuade her parents to attend a community awareness session run by the project, which covered topics such girls’ education, gender equality, child marriage and adolescent sexual and reproductive health and rights. After this, Leah’s parents finally agreed that she could return to school.
“With support from the Champions of Change facilitators, I am now processing my application to enrol back into school so I can pursue my dreams,” Leah says proudly.
“I am also a peer educator and have helped prevent two adolescent girls from getting married by reporting the issue to our group facilitator, who later on shared it with local officials who were able to stop the marriages.”
Valentine from Burkina Faso
Valentine hasn’t let living with a disability or being forced to drop out of school hold her back.
Trained and financially supported by Plan International, she was able to start a livestock business and began earning an income. But today, massive inflation is jeopardising her business and Valentine is struggling more than ever to get by. Animal feed is very expensive, as are the medicines and vaccines for livestock.
“I really notice that prices are increasing,” she says, noting that the cost of a dish of corn bran has doubled. “And you can’t even buy in bulk anymore. Sometimes, when you want one or two bags, the seller says that people have already reserved the bags, and he won’t sell them to you.
“I don’t make as much profit anymore, and that doesn’t allow me to take my medicine and support myself.”
But we are determined to support this young entrepreneur to continue to build a better life for herself. Alimata Sawadogo, Plan International’s project supervisor in Tanzania, recently visited Valentine to check her progress.
- Alimata, project supervisor
Thanks to your support, Valentine is still receiving the support and encouragement she needs to make it through this difficult time.
“They encouraged me to go forward, because life is not always easy, you have to fight to provide for yourself,” Valentine says.
Mireille from Haiti
The hunger crisis in Haiti continues to spiral out of control, with armed gangs taking control of ports and roads, cutting communities off from both the farms that feed them and essential humanitarian aid. In the past year, food and fuel prices have skyrocketed.
Mother of four Mireille says she has reached breaking point. She lives with two of her sons, aged 12 and 17, and after recently losing her sight, has no way to earn an income. “I cry because the children are young, and I have no one to help me. I have nowhere to go,” she says.
“When I can’t find anything to eat, my two children and I sleep on empty stomachs. This situation can last two to three days because we have nothing and no one.”
But thanks to you, Mireille recently received a cash transfer from Plan International. With the money, she was able to pay her outstanding debts and, most importantly, buy enough food to last her family for a few weeks.
“This morning my children ate cooked rice with sauce, and this afternoon we will eat the same. Sometimes we eat meat if our situation allows it,” says Mireille.
Plan International’s emergency response to the hunger crisis in Haiti is ongoing, and so far more than 2,500 people have received cash transfers to buy vital food supplies. In addition, we hold talks on nutrition, gender awareness and protection in the communities we work in.
“I say thank you very much to Plan International for the support, as this money has allowed me to feed my children,” Mireille says.
Zenhya, Amina and Nastya from Ukraine
One year ago, their school was used by Russian forces to store ammunition, with two tanks parked outside the building. But today, with your help, Amina, Nastya and Zenhya are back at school.
“I knew that our lives were about to get very complicated, but I did not realise how much the war would change our lives,” Nastya says. “For me, getting back to school meant getting some normalcy back in my life. Being able to return to school meant that things might not be as bad as they were, and that we may be able to go back to normal life soon.”
Thanks to you, Plan International and its partners are working in Ukraine to support the rehabilitation and reconstruction of schools and shelters, including providing heating appliances and generators, to ensure children affected by the war have access to safe, inclusive and quality education.
Towards a better tomorrow
Sadly, devastating crises continue to impact millions of children around the world. The plight of families, especially children and girls, in Sudan remains uncertain amid ongoing conflict, increasing concern for their wellbeing and safety. And despite the incredible support of people like you, the hunger crisis in countries like Somalia continues to worsen.
Despite this, we take heart knowing you are just as determined to protect children as we are. Because we have you by our side, we can continue to advocate for the Australian Government to significantly increase funding towards the global hunger crisis. We can support refugees fleeing Sudan and put in safeguards that will protect children — especially those who have become separated from their families, and girls and young women, who are more vulnerable to abuse and trafficking.
What’s next may not be easy but knowing you are standing with us helps us feel up to the challenge. Thank you so much.