“I would have dropped out of school considering the long distance I walked, punishment from my teachers and humiliation I suffered in the hands of my friends any time I went to school late.”
These are the words of 12-year-old Gifty at Kandiga Primary school in the Kassena Nankana East AP in Ghana. Gifty lives in Kaasi, 4 km away from her school. She dreams of becoming a nurse one day.
“When I woke up in the morning, I did my household chores and walked far to fetch water to bathe before I went to school. I spent about 2 hours walking to school each morning and usually got there with dirty legs and very late, mostly after the first lesson was over,” she said.
Gifty was frequently punished at school for her tardiness. She also could not communicate effectively in English because she missed most of the lessons and therefore made mistakes when she spoke. “These made me to stay out of school some days to minimize the mockery on me in school,” she added.
According to Gifty’s teacher, her poor performance could be reversed if she just stayed closer to the school and participated in class activities. Her parents also were not happy with her poor performance in school. They blamed what they thought was Gifty’s “laziness”. They contemplated taking Gifty out of classes.
Then Gifty was selected to benefit from World Bicycle Relief’s Bicycles for Educational Empowerment Program (BEEP). She calls it the turning point in her life.
“It was as if some magic came to me when I heard you were interested in supporting girls in my school with bicycles to enable them to go to school in time. I went to school every day so that they could consider me.”
When the Bicycle Supervisory Committee began selecting BEEP beneficiaries, Gifty was second on the list.
“It was a great joy for me when I was given a brand new Buffalo Bicycle after a colorful distribution ceremony in my school. In this school, we were taught safe riding principles. I was also encouraged to join my juniors at the reading camp in Kaasi. I took an active part in the activities, and this took away my fear and put confidence in me to speak English among my peers,” Gifty said.
Gifty still does her assigned chores but manages to get to school early. “I ride home fast to do my homework and come back to attend the reading camp activities on the scheduled days. My stepmother is happy with me for doing my household chores early. I no longer go to school late and am not punished as a result. My colleagues no longer tease at me for my faulty English and so I don’t miss school again. My dream of becoming a nurse in the future is very much alive!”
“I am forever grateful for lifting me from near dropout back to school.”
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