Peace Corps

On girls. At their best.

I am so fucking angry right now, I almost didn’t come to work today.

I do a significant amount of English tutoring. One of the options for the BAC (comprehensive test you have to take to finish school) is foreign languages, and one of the mot popular options is English. Great, no problem. I help girls with their English homework, give them some conversational practice, etc, and in return, they help me with my French and/ or Fon. It’s also a good way for me to be a positive role model and remind these girls that you don’t HAVE to get married and have children to be valued as a woman.

Two days ago, one of my girls came and told me that she wouldn’t be returning to school after the winter break. WHAT? Girl scout’s only got a year and a half left to go. She’s never had to retake a year (exceedingly rare here). She’s doing really well.

Her family thinks it’s too expensive. WHAT? She’s got two older brothers at University, and older brother in the same year as her (he’s on his SECOND time for this grade level, and has retaken previously too). She’s got a younger brother in school too. Her school fees and books have already been paid.

After further investigation, the real story comes out. Her family doesn’t want to pay someone to manage the fruit stand anymore. WHAT? She’s being conscripted to work in their store a few days a week, and sell fruit during the rest. WHAT? She already does that for just about every moment that she’s not in school or studying! Her BROTHERS don’t work! They don’t have JOBS!

And yet she’s not going to get a chance to finish her education. Her mom wasn’t educated. None of her aunts and sisters were. What was good enough for them (a man and a dozen babies) should be good enough for her.


So this morning I went to speak with her parents, to see if there was any chance that they could be dissuaded. She lives in a fucking MANSION (well, it’s nice compared to most homes here). Her two university aged brothers share a moto. Her mother has a moto. Her father has a car. A CAR!!! And yet, they can’t afford to keep her in school for another year and a half.

So I went home, cried my eyes out, then put on my face, and came to work. Days like today make me wonder how much progress we’re really making in this country.


2 thoughts on “On girls. At their best.

  1. They’ve already paid the school fees (16 000 CFA a year = $32). To be honest, the reality is not that they can’t afford it. The reality is that they want her working the shop. They want her married. They want her to have babies. None of which she can do if she’s in school studying.

    It’s actually relatively rare that the well off here don’t edcuate their girls, so there’s GOT to be something else going on that I don’t know about. *shrug* Educated girls ARE harder to marry off though (wouldn’t want any o’ them smart broads with IDEAS in their heads).

    So infuriating.

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