Dear School-to-School International supporters:
Three years ago, I met a fourth-grade student named Fatoumata Diouf at STS’s partner school in Filimia in the Boke region of western Guinea. She was an ideal candidate for the girls’ scholarship program. In addition to meeting all the scholarship criteria, Fatoumata showed exceptional promise and enthusiasm for learning while also facing a particularly difficult home life. Fatoumata is one of these special cases.
In the slums of Kamsar, Fatoumata lives with her grandmother, a sixty-year-old woman whose only income comes from selling gravel collected from ditches along the side of the road. Fatoumata has lost her mother and her father’s whereabouts are unknown. Without a reliable source of income, she and her grandmother struggle to subsist.
STS selected Fatoumata as a scholarship recipient that year. The following day, when her grandmother was informed, the elderly woman sat in disbelief. According to the principal who delivered the news, she melted down in tears while leaving his office before adding, “May God the Creator abundantly bless the donors of this scholarship.”
In the years since, Fatoumata has shown herself to be a punctual and assiduous student. She has finished primary school and entered middle school with good grades. The monthly 50kg sack of rice enabled her small family to live relatively well compared to before and allows Fatoumata to be less involved in collecting gravel with her grandmother. She has benefited from the support of her teachers inside and outside of the classroom; her school principal even visits her grandmother at home to encouraged her to give Fatoumata less work and focus more on her studies. Fatoumata’s grandmother also remains grateful: she spoke at this year’s school-year launch event, recounting what the program has done in their lives and encouraging everyone to wish STS success in all its endeavors.
STS’s program in Guinea is multifaceted and well received. It implements health and nutrition programs that help create and maintain healthy environments in schools. It educates communities and teachers on the importance of equity-focused approaches to classroom instruction. And, of course, it provides girls’ scholarship every year since the 2013. Those monthly arrivals of the 50kg sack of rice both encourages and financially empowers families to keep their girls in school.
– National Coordinator in Guinea