We’re reaching more students & women through your support
Greeting from South Sudan! I want to take a minute to update you on all the exciting things that are happening at HOPE for Ariang Foundation. Last November, our team came together for a week in Nairobi to develop HFA’s five-year strategic plan. We are pushing to reach BIG goals that will have a deeper impact in the community by 2023. These goals still utilize the same approach that our founder Gabriel used; we partner with the community to provide inclusive access to quality education and opportunities through a holistic approach. This means our team spends time in the community listening and understanding their challenges in order to inform our programs and approach.
I just returned from a productive and exciting week on the ground in Ariang! In this newsletter, you can read more about the trip, milestones achieved, and exciting new programs like the Bany Akolda Seminars we are getting ready to launch in the coming months. We are striving towards greater impact in the next five years, and invite that you to be part of it! Together, we can transform lives through quality education and opportunities.
Providing quality education at Ariang Primary School still remains at the core of our mission. We are proud to report that we are making strides in increasing the quality of education that our 1,200 students receive at Ariang Primary.
Ariang School was a top-performing school in the region on the 2018 National Primary Exam, with a 97% passing rate and a mean-score increase by 34 points from 2017. It was also the first year where the number of girls sitting for their exam was more than boys! We’re so proud of this tremendous growth and it motivates teacher, students, and the entire community towards continued growth.
This month, we distributed 6,000 exercise books and 2,800 pens. Every student received a personal set of these materials to equip them for learning. In addition, teachers received lesson plan books, pens, markers, and poster boards to equip them for planning and teaching engaging lessons. These materials have an impact on student attendance and performance. Thank you for your support that makes this possible.
This month marked the completion of our first year-long Teacher Training program in partnership with Dignitas. Our cohort of six Ariang School teachers showed significant growth! On April 18th, a graduation ceremony was held at the school where students witnessed and celebrated these six teachers’ achievement with speeches, a certificate ceremony, and plenty of singing and dancing! Dignitas staff conducted final evaluations to measure the program’s impact which will inform the next steps in our future teacher training. We’re committed to strengthening our teacher training program because we know that when we invest in teachers, we’re investing in students.
With our Girls Empowerment Program (GEP), we hope to eliminate barriers that girls face in accessing quality education; reduce school drop-out rates among girls; increase their academic performance and empower them with the 21st-century career & leadership qualities.
We will use our Strong Girls Club as a safe space for discussions in order to ‘catch’ girls before they begin dropping-out of school.
With Women Empowerment Program (WEP), we hope to increase women’s financial and business literacy levels to promote income generating activities; develop their leadership & self-determination and reduce poverty levels of women, their families, and communities. We have identified 2 groups of focus (1). Women who already possess skills or own small businesses and desire to strengthen them to scale and (2). Women who desire to learn new skills and start businesses.
We will continue to share more details with you when we launch later this year.
We announced the launch of SEP at the end of 2018 and perhaps you are wondering how this program is going. In February, we enrolled our first cohort of nine students, five girls and four boys, at Lahu-Nhom secondary school, a boarding school about thirty minutes from Ariang by car. All nine scholars have shown great potential in pursuing academic excellence to reach their life goals. At the end of April, the students will finish their first term. We’re eager to see their progress and committed to providing continued support to ensure their future growth and success.
We’re excited to kick-off the second key component to the SEP program, Bany Akolda Seminar. Bany Akolda means leaders of tomorrow in Dinka. During all school breaks, SEP students will participate in workshop classes to develop their leadership capacities and important 21st-century skills like creative problem solving, peacebuilding, perseverance/grit, communication, and collaboration. Our goal is that all our SEP graduates are equipped to be leaders and agents-of-change in their communities. We need your support to implement Bany Akolda Seminar workshops. Read below on direct ways to support this exciting program!
The Bany Akolda Seminar workshops, a part of our Scholars Empowerment Program, develop the capacity and skills of South Sudanese youth in order to be leaders and agents-of-change in their communities.
Do you want to positively impact a student’s life and equip him or her to be a community leader? You can support Bany Akolda Seminar workshops two direct ways:
HOPE for Ariang Foundation, Inc.
P.O. Box 15327
Syracuse, NY 13215
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September 2018, was marked a special month for the #Girlchild in Ariang School. Two HOPE for Ariang team members, Elizabeth Deng and Josephine Lukas visited the school with the aim of highlighting and addressing some of the challenges eighth-grade girls face during menstruation.
The visit shed light about HOPE for Ariang’s commitment to improving girls’ education and school attendance through the Women and Girls Empowerment Program. To create a lasting solution, the program also focused on empowering all the women in Ariang and surrounding Villages.
In collaboration with Ariang’s female teacher Maria Adyior, the program started with interviewing the girls to find out how they cope up with menstruation in the absence of sanitary towels.12 out of the 23 eighth grade girls were interviewed. Only a few girls had knowledge about menstruation health management. Out of the 12 girls we interviewed, only one girl knew about sanitary pads and had underwears. All the others had very little knowledge about menstrual hygiene and management. All the girls opted to skip school during their periods. They preferred to stay at home for fear of stigma from their fellow schoolmates.
The interview demonstrated a combination of factors leading to increased absenteeism for girls, poor school performance and increased early marriages. We had some girls who said that:
“I don’t go to school for almost six days”
”…during menstruation, I wear many skirts”
“I feel uncomfortable to ask our male teachers about menstruation problems, and so I feel better to stay back at home where am a bit comfortable for all those days”
Some girls said in most cases they can’t concentrate in class. They always think about sudden menstruation leakage and what others will say about them.
“… During menstruating days, our attentiveness to lessons is always interrupted by the thinking of unplanned leakage and staining of our clothes. Which is so shameful. We don’t concentrate. Most of the time our attention is on menstruation and the embarrassment that comes with it.”
We trained 23 eighth grade girls and 6 community women from the Ariang Village. Teacher Maria Adyior led the training after receiving one-on-one training and coaching from the HOPE for Ariang team. She provided an overview of what is menstruation, menstruation management and challenges experienced during menstruation period. She also advised and guided them on how to stay clean and healthy while on their period.
At the end of the training session, the women and girls were given a reusable sanitary kit which included three underwears, four reusable sanitary pads, a bucket and a soap. By using reusable pads, girls will be able to safely, comfortably and consistently manage their periods without worrying about embarrassment and shame.
The HFA Women and Girls Empowerment program addresses challenges which prevent girls in Ariang to continue with their education and live a healthy life in the community through a very comprehensive approach:
Our target is to empower all girls at Ariang school to happily attend school daily, concentrate in class and reach their potentials. If you would like to donate to our Women and Girls Empowerment Program, you can make a donation here. Simple, write “Ariang Girl” in the comment box. Help us to ensure that all girls can go to school, attend classes, and complete their education without any barriers so that they can reach their full potential and be the change in the community. We want to make our girls shine.