Every girl in Jamia’s community had big dreams while growing up. One wanted to become a doctor, another a teacher, and another a seamstress. Jamia, now 27, had nothing in particular in mind but wanted to do a good job someday. But their dreams ended the day they grew into womanhood, for every girl in her community had to stop schooling after that and prepare for marriage.
Jamia’s elder sisters stopped schooling in grade seven. Jamia stopped in the eighth grade. Her mother’s decision devastated her. She cried for days asking for permission to get back to school but nothing would change her mother’s mind. It was part of the culture in her community. But Jamia couldn’t surrender.
“I secretly got books from friends from other communities and copied the notes at home and began to study,” she smiles mischievously, “I continued like this for two years, then I heard about the English class World Vision was starting in our village.”
I secretly got books from friends from other communities and copied the notes at home and began to study.
She was thrilled, but not her mother; and after a storm of tears, she finally received permission to go for the class.
“The mobiliser who was in charge of the class inquired about school and talked to us about the importance of being in school. When I told her about my situation, she was willing to talk to my mother and make an effort to help her understand,” says Jamia.
“But mother didn’t change and it took many visits to make a breakthrough. At first she said she couldn’t afford my education, but World Vision said they would support."
The next struggle was convincing her school to accept her again. The school wanted her to return to grade eight. The village volunteer advocated through teachers who were involved in the study assistance classes initiated by World Vision and the principal finally agreed to first put Jamia through an aptitude test.
Jamia came out with flying colours!
She was allowed to join grade 10. Even her girl cousins who had also stopped school, returned.
“I received everything I needed – books, stationary, bags, uniforms and shoes from World Vision,” says Jamia.
But then, her older brother set a new deadline for her. She could be in school only till she completed Grade 11. After that she had to be married.
Jamia passed the Ordinary Level exam with excellence and obtained the best results in the school. Both her parents favoured that she should continue her education. Her brother disagreed and disowned her.
She received study assistance for her Advanced Level and became an education activist in her village; visiting girls who had stopped schooling and encouraging them back to school.
“My own story was enough for their mothers,” she says.
My biggest dream is to make sure every girl child in my village gets to complete school.
Completing Advanced Level with high marks and inspired by her own teacher, Jamia joined the Colleges of Education to become a teacher. She received her appointment as a teacher to a National School closer to her village.
She is married now and has a baby daughter. Her dream is to give her the best education someday.
“But my biggest dream is to make sure every girl child in my village gets to complete school. There’s so much talent hidden in these children,” she says.
Jamia still continues to talk to parents in her community about the importance of education for girl child and would not let a single girl drop out of school.
Read Mariamma's story from India. She finds her voice and helps obtain a borehole well for her community.