Back to school at 20
After marrying early and having two children, Esther decided to go back to school and is studying to become a teacher.
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When she was just a young girl, Esther’s life was turned upside down when her father lost his sight. “My father paid for school so when he went blind, I had to stop going,” Esther explains. When a man came and offered to marry Esther, it seem like that would fix things for the family, impacted by the loss of her father’s income. “I couldn’t afford to pay for my daughter to go to school, so I agreed to her marrying that man because he paid the whole dowry asked,” Esther’s father, Pierre Tshilumba, recalls.
Newly wed, Esther moved to the province of Kwilu with her husband and had two children. “My husband didn’t take care of me or the children. We didn’t have anything to eat,” Esther says. She decided to go back to her parents’ house in Kamonia in the province of Kasaï. UNICEF outreach workers told her family about a project aimed at helping young women go back to school.
Esther was given a uniform, a schoolbag and exercise books as part of a pilot project supported by UNICEF and the Embassy of the United Kingdom in the DRC. “I’m in my fifth year of educational humanities. I plan to become a teacher and with my salary, I’ll pay for my children to go to school until they graduate,” Esther explains, determined to provide her children with a better life.
Thanks to the generous support of the British Embassy in the DRC, UNICEF is implementing a pilot project in Kamonia to improve access to quality education for vulnerable children, especially girls. This project addresses all the issues related to girls’ schooling, through among other things, improving learning conditions and sanitation in schools, improving the quality of education, combating gender-based sexual violence and creating spaces for dialogue and empowerment for women and girls.