UNICEF in Bouna : Little girls in school, Mothers in Vegetable Gardens
By Parfait Kouassi
BOUNA, May 2007 – By giving the opportunity to mothers of several hundreds of children to meet their needs, Unicef has made it possible to educate more than one thousand little girls this year in the department of Bouna. This performance is unusual in this region of Côte d’Ivoire, where people consider that the place of the little girl is the kitchen.
In the vegetable gardens in the valley of Bromakoté, a district of Bouna, Debaforan Kambou, aged 29 years, is one of the most assiduous workers.
“I make these efforts to save my children’s future”, she affirms, with the watering can in one hand and wiping her face with the other.
Debaforan has a four-year old boy and a six-year old little girl, Sylvie Kambou, whom she enrolled in the district primary school during the 2006-2007 academic year.
When she was very small, Debaforan saw her dream of becoming a teacher shattered when, for lack of education, she was constrained to help her mother with the numerous domestic chores.
She then swore that her daughter would take her revenge on destiny. That is why she joined the campaign initiated at the beginning of the year by Unicef to encourage the education of little girls.
Through this campaign, Unicef has rehabilitated and equipped ten schools in the department of Bouna. It has also supplied school kits and financed women’s cooperatives.
Debaforan belongs to one of these cooperatives based in Bromakoté. Forty other women like her are members of this cooperative, most of whom registered their children this year in the district school.
“We had to open two classes for the first year preparatory course (CP1) in order to receive the 120 children - including 63 little girls – who registered this year. This unusual affluence has been made possible thanks to the Unicef campaign”, explains Ouattara Gbanassé, the Headmaster of the school.
Beyond the Bromakoté school, the Girls’ Education campaign has boosted the school population in the department, increasing from 6,547, in 2006 to 9,212 in 2007, according to the primary school inspection.
At the same time, the proportion of girls has increased from 2,757 to 3,857.
“I have decided to send the daughters of my children to school because I have understood that the world has changed”, explains Hina Sona Hien, aged 54 years, member of the Bromakoté Cooperative.
“My children had sent their children to me to do the housework for me. But, I have understood that if they do not attend school, their future will be compromised”, she adds.
This grand-mother maintains that it is never too late to do something good. She did not educate her own children.
“My objective in this cooperative is to get money to cater for the needs of my grandchildren”, affirms Hina.
This objective is shared by hundreds of women of the department of Bouna, who are members of about ten cooperatives.
However, despite their efforts, the harvest does not seem abundant for crops like onions, due to the late rains.
“We will not be discouraged by a bad season. We shall cultivate other crops”, declares Anna Kambou, another grandmother, member of the Bromakoté cooperative.