FOCUS ON GIRLS
Saturday Girls’ Education Support
In many parts of Africa, gender inequality is still a sad reality. The main aim of the Saturday Girls’ Classes is to help high school girls achieve success within the local school system and prepare effectively for tertiary education.
Our weekly educational support gives these teenagers a voice, allowing them a safe space in which to speak out and advocate for their needs. In addition the girls learn important leadership and problem-solving skills.
We also provide them with the opportunity to enjoy fun and engaging experiences that they would otherwise not be exposed to.
Like many other teenagers in South Africa, the teenagers of Acornhoek struggle with reading and mathematical literacy due to a lack of educational support. Rural schools often have minimal resources, large classes and not enough qualified teachers.
Reproductive Health Education
As a medical doctor working in South Africa for over 25 years, Seeds of Light board member, Dr. Wendy Fraser, understands the severity and devastation caused by the HIV epidemic. In the Bushbuckridge area where we work, around one-third of the people are infected with HIV. In women between the ages of 35 and 39, the incidence is a staggering 46%.
Although we are now able to control HIV, there is still no cure. We need to prevent our young people from becoming infected as teenagers and young adults.
Teenage pregnancy is also a huge problem. In one high school that we are working with, there are 30-35 girls pregnant at any one time. This negatively impacts a girl’s ability to complete her schooling or achieve her full potential.
Seeds of Light is addressing these issues by providing reproductive health education to youth and training for young adults to become Reproductive Health Peer Educators to carry the prevention message forward to reach even more students. As the former director of Seeds of Light and as a current board member, Wendy has taught Reproductive Health Education to thousands of teenagers in the Acornhoek area. There are still many more youth that need to be reached.
Seeds of Light Partners with Dignity Dreams
Another serious and widespread problem we encounter is that teenage girls from disadvantaged areas in South Africa often cannot afford sanitary pads. They often use socks, rags, newspapers, bark, or grass. Many miss up to five days of school every month. This gives the girls a huge disadvantage—missing important exams and often not managing to complete their education.
Sandra Millar, the founder of Dignity Dreams, wanted to address this problem and came up with a solution. She developed beautiful, washable and reusable sanitary pads in a pack. These packs cost about R200 each (less than $20 USD) and can last a girl for four years. We would love to provide every girl in our area with one of these beautiful packs.
The packs include:
- 1 Drawstring bag made out of colorful poly-cotton
- 6 x washable, absorbent pads
- 3 x panties
- An instruction sheet
- 1 x plastic bag
Seeds of Light has teamed up with Dignity Dreams, and our aim is to provide Dignity Dreams packs to all the girls in the Acornhoek area who need one.
We find these girls have little knowledge of their bodies’ biological processes and even less reproductive health information. Seeds of Light provides girls with information about preventing pregnancy and HIV/AIDS.