published in ChildrenEducationRefugeesWomen / Girls on April 4, 2018

From school-girl to surgeon

FACT: A girl in South Sudan is 3 times more likely to die in childbirth than to finish Primary School.

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Educate a girl, educate a nation

This is the fact girls like Elizabeth face every day, so her success (she’s aiming to be a surgeon!) is proof of the difference you can make in a girl’s life when you support their education.

Conflict in South Sudan has forced more than 3.3 million people from their homes. 1.5 million people have left the country, the others search for safety inside South Sudan.

The crisis hit Elizabeth’s village too. When armed gunmen attacked in December 2013, luckily she was safe, far away at primary school in Kenya.

However, Elizabeth’s uncle was killed in the fighting, and the rest of the family fled. Elizabeth’s grandfather passed away because he was too frail to make the journey without food, clean water or medical attention.

Yet conflict is just one of the challenges that prevent a girl like Elizabeth having an education in South Sudan. As she explains:

“Girls who do begin primary school hardly ever finish.
They are taken out when they reach puberty
for fear of molestation and harassment, or to get married,
or to contribute to household chores.”

The result is adolescent girls
in South Sudan are three times more likely to die in
childbirth than complete primary school.

In fact, around 90 per cent of South Sudan’s women are illiterate (UNDP, 2015).

Through ALWS, you support primary education in areas like Panyagor in South Sudan.

You help rebuild schools, train teachers, build latrines to protect girls’ safety, provide learning materials, and even support travelling school for children who live in mobile cattle camps. You can see the power of your help when you listen to Elizabeth:

“When girls have an education we can contribute so much more to our families and our communities… believe me, once you have the opportunity to go to school you don’t want to walk away from it.”

There are simple practical things you can support through ALWS that help girls like Elizabeth stay in school:

“We only need little things like school uniforms, exercise and text books, school bags.
Girls can do everything as well as boys–we just need to be given the opportunity and the chance and we will show you.”

Elizabeth is already showing what she can
do. She’s convinced her younger siblings to all enrol in school. She hopes they will follow in her footsteps.

“As for me, I am going to continue to follow my dreams and become a surgeon. I recognise the road is still long, but I am not going to give up
…after all, when you educate a girl you educate a nation.”

The road to peace and prosperity, out of conflict and poverty, is long and hard in South Sudan. You can be sure that ALWS, and our partner LWF, are committed to the journey, so you can continue to support people like Elizabeth to transform their lives. Thank you!
Photo: LWF