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Regional Manager for Convoy’s East Africa division Daudi Msseemmaa and his wife Kellen have lived in Tanzania for years before they began working with Convoy of Hope.
Kellen Msseemmaa is a Ugandan secondary schoolteacher. While working with students age 13-18 in Tanzania, she noticed the female demographic was decreasing in her classes and began to wonder why. She came to realize that girls were dropping out of school due to early marriages, pregnancy and women’s health issues.
Customs such as arranged marriages and female circumcisions are still practiced in the African country.
So in 2010, the Msseemmaas started the Empowered Girls program.
This year, Empowered Girls began receiving funding for the program as a new initiative of Convoy of Hope.
The program allows secondary school girls clubs to talk about self-esteem, gender based violence, harmful cultural practices, relationships and friendships.
Kara Edson is the director of Women’s Empowerment at Convoy of Hope.
“One thing I love about the program is they use a lot of storytelling, narrative, skits and music to develop some of these skills to serve as reminders for these girls if they get into a precarious situation,” Edson said.
Edson said some differences may be clear, but no matter where you are in the world people are similar in some ways too.
“Your average Tanzanian girl is the same as your average American girl in the things they’re interested in, the things they love and their drive for the future, but it’s those cultural things that kind of get in the way and deter them from their dreams,” Edson said.
The Empowered Girls program is striving to make a difference in these girls’ lives by promoting gender equality and emphasizing education.
“We believe that keeping girls in school is our most powerful weapon against some of these issues and poverty in general. If we can engage women and keep them in school, if they can become literate and become productive members of society in terms of adding to their local economy being able to get jobs, start their own businesses we can make a huge impact on global poverty in general. Ultimately, that’s what we believe with Empowered Girls is that education is an extremely powerful weapon against poverty and we want to keep as many Tanzania girls and girls around the world in all our program in school as possible,” Edson said.
According to Edson, about 640 girls from five different communities in Tanzania participate in Empowered Girls. They’ve had over 50 sessions together.
For KSMU News, I’m Briana Simmons.