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In rural Ethiopia, poor parents have little to spend on their daughter’s education and spend even less if they do not value it. Our Girls’ Education Challenge (GEC) project, delivered with local partner CHADET, identifies girls who are at risk of dropping out of school for these reasons and supports them as well as their parents, who are often single mothers.

Alemwork has five children. When her husband died, she tried to make money any way she could: through brewing and selling millet beer and stitching yards of woven cotton to be used for blankets and clothes. Life was far from easy.

‘Before, I never thought I would even pass’

Banchi is Alemwork’s youngest daughter and she has felt the pinch of her family’s poverty. At school she didn’t have an exercise book for any of her nine subjects, nor did she have pens or a uniform. Unmotivated and unsure, she struggled to keep up with her classmates.

Then Banchi joined CHADET’s GEC programme, with her school costs covered and extra tutorial classes to improve her grades. Steadily improving in school, Banchi has gained confidence and a new plan: “Before, I never thought I would even pass. Now I think better than that, I want to pass and become a judge. You see bad things happen to people here, and I would like to imprison the people responsible”.

Catching the sky

At the same time, Banchi’s mother Alemwork was enrolled into a community savings group where she saved 10 birr (26p) each week with fellow mothers. After 10 months, the group had saved enough for them to take out small loans which were matched by CHADET. Alemwork was able to afford the biggest purchase she’d ever made: two sheep, each with a lamb.

“That day when I went to get the sheep, I just thought, ‘it is so hard to catch the sky. But look at me! It’s all so unexpected, and so good.’” She hopes the sheep will keep reproducing, and she will use the money she makes to keep her children in school

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