Fatimah is from the Afar region of Ethiopia. She is the third daughter in her family. She wanted to learn but couldn’t because her family was poor. Not only that but her semi-nomadic Afar culture and Islamic religion don’t encourage women to be educated.
As she grew, she was told that she needed to marry. (Marriage for young Afar women are generally to an older man who generates income for his household from camel or cattle herding). Fatimah refused to marry and hid at her uncle’s home. However, she was soon found and forced to get married.
One night people from her village and school teachers came to her family home and informed her father that they were selecting children to be educated from families who can afford it. Her father responded, “all my children are married, and even if I have a child to send, I can’t buy school material and I also couldn’t see the importance of education for our children.”
The group then told Fatimah’s father that there was an organization who can support children’s education from poor families. Fatimah was excited! She asked her father to send her to this school where the organization helps with school materials. He was not happy at first, but later Fatimah was eventually able to convince both her father and husband and soon began going to school.
For years Fatimah’s community wouldn’t think to send their children to school because of the poverty and cultural influences but because of Fatimah’s example, the perception on the importance of education has begun to change.
Now, two of Fatimah’s friends in the village attend school and since they began more families are interested in allowing their daughters to be educated.
However, Fatimah sees many Afar girls in the same situation - lacking education due to poverty and cultural barriers. Instead, their life is likely confined to non-consenting marriage at a very early age, confinement to the household and carrying water 4-5 hours a day. With education comes the possibility of income generation, more independence, and through this project, exposure to the gospel.
To support this project go to www.sim.ca/unlisted-project
Afar Girl’s Education Project - PROJECT: CA 509035
This project focuses on providing gospel-centred education for Afar girls whose parents due to poverty, religious beliefs and cultural practices prefer early marriage to education as a way to provide for their off-spring. Afar families assume that if a girl goes to school, she will not contribute to the family’s livelihood.