Walking into a classroom full of very energetic children makes the long flights and lack of sleep worth it! Karen and I arrived in Niger Thursday evening and barely had time to close our eyes and sleep before we were off on another 3.5 hour flight from Niamey to Zinder. We were exhausted by the time we walked into the first classroom, but the children’s excitement was contagious and we really had fun as we worked on cards for our sponsors. We laughed about how difficult it was to take good pictures because the children seemed to always be in motion. Some of the students were shy and timid, but after time they warmed up to us.
We ran into Houge on the road when we were leaving the primary school. Houge is in her last year of middle school and has really blossomed. When she first entered the sponsorship program in 2009 she was just a child. Now, she is a young lady who dreams of being a doctor when she is older. Her grades, work ethic, determination and newly found confidence all demonstrate that this is a real possibility. Houge received a scholarship at the end of her 6th grade year because the director of the primary school made the request. She lost her father in 5th grade and her family did not have the means to pay the school fees. Additionally, she had the top score in the region on her 6th grade exam. We’re really pleased to see her excelling and would like for her to go on to high school next year.
This is an exceptional story in Niger. Less than 10% of girls go on to middle school and even fewer attend high school. I am convinced that there are more girls like Houge in Niger – girls who would excel in education if given the opportunity.