By Julia Dejean, TEFL volunteer
October 11th is the International Day of the Girl. For this occasion, and to celebrate female students around the world, I held a viewing of the Peace Corps Benin produced documentaries “Seeds of Hope” at my school.
These documentaries share the story of exceptional Beninese girls that fought to receive an education despite their circumstances, in hopes that they inspire young girls to fight for their rights, as well as to promote the importance of sending girls to school amongst youth and adults.
Since the independence of Benin in 1960, much progress towards gender equality has been made. However, there are still families that refuse to educate their girls. A majority of these girls are exploited within households or offered in marriage at a young age to men that are considerably older. Some outstanding girls are convinced that it is through education that they can best invest themselves in the development of their country. They fight the sad realities, injustices, and sociological barriers that they are faced with in order to receive a quality education.
The “Seeds of Hope” films were an excellent gateway to an open discussion with the girls at my school about the many obstacles and challenges they face in their daily lives, and the different ways they can overcome these obstacles to achieve their dreams. We talked about ambition and several students shared their dreams and aspirations with the audience. Some wanted to become teachers, others nurses and others simply wanted to work hard in school and get good grades. The girls concluded on the importance of fighting for their education, working hard, and finding the strength and courage to pursue what they believe in. They came to this conclusion on their own.
At first, I was afraid not many students we’re going to come because it can sometimes be hard to organize a big event on such short notice, a week after the beginning of school. But in the end, 114 girls showed up. These 114 girls are my seeds of hope.