|St. Anne's Boarding School|
The situation of women is marked by exploitation on all levels. From childhood on the girls work in the house, fetch water, cook, wash, clean, farm, take care of the children etc. Women and girls are the most deprived group in the diocese. Education in general is lowest in this part of the country and education of women for that matter is still lower. Successive governments have always neglected this area, and women development has consequently suffered greatly. There are very few educated women from the indigenous tribal groups in the diocese.
Because girls are seen as commercial objects, their education is considered a waste of resources. Their role in society is to provide labor and children for the family of the husband. They are given out in marriage at as early an age as 12 years, often to older men who already have one or two wives. Some are sent to the neighboring country to work as call girls to enable them to buy some basic amenities and also send some money to the family. Most of these girls often return home sick with the HIV\AIDS or with other sexually transmitted disease. Some return either with a child or pregnant.
Cultural and ethnic beliefs and customary practices even enslave women and girls the more. Most women are relegated to the background and have no freedom to develop their talents for themselves and for the society. They need the permission of the husband to do anything, hence, the need to do something very concrete and very practical for these women and girls.
The above situation of the women and girls in this diocese is largely due to the fact that women and girls have been deprived for a long time the benefits of education. The few girls who go to school are not allowed to complete their education. They are either given out in marriage or pulled out of school or get pregnant and leave. Those who do complete school often come out with very poor results, not because they are not capable but because they are not given the opportunity to study. Once they come home from school they have to do the household chores and so have no time to study. The result of this is a certain low image of the capabilities of women. The women themselves lack self-confidence and tend to accept the "status quo" as a "God given" situation that cannot be changed. Women have to depend on men for everything and often feel that, of their own, they cannot do anything. There is the need to create an environment that will enable them to develop this self-confidence. One very concrete way of doing this is a girl's boarding school.
The diocese has already started (September 1996) a small boarding school with very limited space, where girls from all the different parishes in the diocese and from different tribal groups live together and go to school together. The first 18 girls spoke 9 different mother tongues. They varied in age from 12 - 17 years and attended the first year of the Junior Secondary School (JSS 1) at St Anne's Junior Secondary School. They lived together under the supervision of a housemistress, had common meals and prayers together. Extra lessons were given in the evenings. The boarding school grew to 36 girls and staff in 2003. As a further step towards the promotion of girl's education, the Diocese has started this September 2003 a Girls Senior Secondary School.
This new institution has only been completed up to the first phase. The project is planned to be fully completed in three phases. We therefore hope, with the availability of funds to get the other two phases completed.
The needs of the Boarding school are many. With only one dormitory block with four rooms; two dormitory rooms, one dining, one study hall and one storage room for food. To reduce the congestion in the dormitories, another dormitory block is needed. One major consideration is the yearly occurrence of CMS (Cerebral Meningitis Syndrome) during the hot season, which is favored by crowded conditions.
The kitchen is a makeshift building that is open to the weather. During the rainy season, which is five months out of the year, the cooks are forced to work in the inclement weather. During the very hot season they are cooking without the aid of fans. It is very important for a kitchen/dining hall to be built to lessen the hardships of the workers and the girls.
There are only two outside toilets and two outside rooms for the girls to take bucket baths in. There is a real need for a block that would house at least four toilets and 4 bath areas.
The school fees the girls and their parents are paying are too high for most families, since they come mostly from poor rural backgrounds. By going to school, and especially with the quality of education assured through the boarding school, possibilities in life are open to them, e.g. being instruments of change in families and society, being able to train to become skilled workers or professionals.
The objective of the boarding school is to provide sound academic and character formation for young girls from all parts of the diocese regardless of their faith or tribal affiliation. It is our hope, in a small way, to empower them for a future where they can become good women and leaders in family, community and the world. We are working on the basics - starting from reading/writing/communicating skills. In the afternoon activities they have tutors to follow up the major subjects in the school. They are given a chance to participate in youth groups with their various programs like football and volleyball matches, excursions and picnics. Workshops on Sex Education and AIDS are organized for them as well. They are taught some skills in needlework, tye and dye, arts, farming and baking.
As you can see, the Boarding School is very important for the girls all round education, however the needs are great. Below is a list of the most important projects. We would be very grateful for any help you feel God calling you to give.