14-year-old Rachelle, on the left, lives with her aunt and five other children in a bad part of the Namuwongo slum. (Yes, even in the slum there are bad parts!)
Earlier this month, Rachelle started in our Literacy program, the first time she has ever attended any kind of school. As you can see, she is now beginning to read simple books out loud! Hesitantly, with a little embarrassment, but still — she’s READING.OUT.LOUD. in less than a month!
When we were planning our Literacy program, we knew that most of the girls who came through would have never attended school before, and even those that had would have had only a few terms under their belts. Teen girls are not known for their ability (or desire!) to sit still and be serious — as my mom, Susan, said on our trip a few months ago, “They are JUST like giggling teenage girls everywhere!”
But they are consumed with a desire to learn, to speak English, to read and write and know how to use money (and not be cheated). To be MORE.
Without Touch the Slum, the girls in our program will always only be less-than. They are less than the boys in their family, who get to go to school if there’s the money for it. They are less than the younger children, who get food first because the teens should be able to “go out and get money” (meaning from sex work) if they need incidentals like food and sanitary pads.
They know they are at the bottom of the social ladder — and that, without basic literacy and a skill, that ladder has no rungs.
But YOU believe in them, and so they believe in themselves!
And that’s enough.
PS Our monthly sanitary pad project for June is 87% funded – we just need $44 to get sanitary pads to 250 girls. If you want to help, click the button!
PSS The well contractors have still not shown up. (Don’t worry, we haven’t paid them anything except for the surveyor who came twice.) Apparently, they’ve been trying to line up multiple jobs in the region to do back-to-back, but didn’t tell Gideon that until Friday. Our Touch the Slum team took the overnight bus back to Kampala Sunday night, and will return once the trucks are ON SITE! This is Africa…