“Every year, the girls wail and cry and throw themselves on the floor of the classrooms if they find out that they did not pass their exams.”
Last night, I met with a kind and passionate woman named Mariama. We intended to discuss the primary school that she and her church have been dreaming of forming, and finally are. Instead, Mariama, the headmistress of a middle school in Niger, shared how sad some children’s situations become because of the traditions and standards existing in Nigerien culture.
Mariama emphasized how devastating it is to some young girls in her middle school when they discover that they will not be able to continue their educations after failing their exit exams. The only hope for these girls to continue their educations lies in repeating their last year of middle school and retaking the exam. Unfortunately, most Nigerien fathers don’t allow their daughters to choose this route, preferring them to follow the normal path for girls their age – marrying and starting families.
I am mesmerized whenever Mariama tells stories about her experiences as a headmistress of middle school in the middle of Niger. She shares these stories vividly, with animated hand gestures. When I first met her last fall, she spoke of girls’ education and how important it is for females to continue their education. This week, she shared stories of all kinds of children living through situations that no one can solve, but emphasized that “we must try.”
I find it so encouraging and inspiring to meet passionate and dynamic individuals, such as Mariama, who have committed themselves to serving other people. Mariama has a heart for and commitment to educating children.