08.17.15 / Category: Impact - Grant Awards

Grantee Spotlight – Lift Up Africa

The Circle of Sisterhood supports entities that remove barriers to education for girls and women, uplifting them from poverty and oppression. Because of the generous support of our donors, we’ve had an impact in nineteen countries since our founding in 2010.

According to the International Center for Research on Women, “Child marriage, defined as marriage before age 18, devastates the lives of girls, their families and their communities. Widespread in many developing countries, child brides number over 70 million worldwide. In some countries, more than half of the girls are married before they turn 18. This harmful practice is most common in poor, rural communities, and its consequences only perpetuate the cycle of poverty. More often than not, child brides are pulled out of school, depriving them of an education and meaningful work.”

Circle of Sisterhood’s $5,000 grant to Lift Up Africa (LUA) is supporting the HELGA Girls Rescue Center, an alternative to forced, early marriage for Maasai girls in Kenya. The Rescue Center provides girls with a safe place to pursue education when they are faced with the serious challenges prevalent in the Maasai community including female genital mutilation (FGM), early forced marriage and/or poverty. The center offers a comfortable and loving living environment as well as sponsorship for school fees, meals and personal effects.

HELGA (which stands for Humanitarian Efforts For Learning Of The Girl Child In Africa) was founded and is run by Priscilla Nangurai. Priscilla, a Maasai woman, has worked to rescue young girls from early marriage for over two decades. She was working as a school teacher in southern Kenya when she noticed an alarming trend in the primary school — the number of girls enrolled in school dropped dramatically each year. There were 60 girls in first grade, however by fourth grade only six-to-eight girls remained. In 1986 Priscilla started working with the girls who wanted to stay in school but who were being forced into early marriage. It began with one girl named Charity who wanted nothing more than to stay in school. Since rescuing Charity in 1986 Priscilla has rescued over 700 girls.

In July 2012 construction of the rescue center began. The center helps up to 40 girls per year achieve their education in a safe setting and supports HELGA’s mission to provide a safe haven for rescued girls from early marriage, to ensure retention and participation in their education and reconciliation with their families.

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Our grant has allowed HELGA to support 10 young girls at the rescue center for a full year. The girls at the rescue center not only benefit from gaining their education and escaping oppression, the whole community will become enriched.

This powerful video, taken from the LUA website, introduces you to a few of the girls from the rescue center who have courageously chosen education over early forced marriage. Hear what education means to them and how they have been empowered through this program.

Thank you Circle of Sisterhood donors. Your gifts are making a difference – their words will tell you how!