Salamatu comes from a rural community in the North East region of Ghana. As a child, she had to walk nine miles to high school, and struggled to complete her education. She recognizes similar barriers to education — including long distances to school, poverty, lack of sanitary wear, child marriage and early pregnancy — that girls still contend with today.
Salamatu joined CAMFED’s global movement as one of our CAMFED Champions, part of the organization’s three interworking parts, that is formed from community stakeholders including local leaders, teachers and parents. Salamatu stepped up to chair a Mother Support Group in her community, offering support to vulnerable children, particularly girls. She knows from her own experience that educated girls will place great value on educating their daughters.
“When a girl is educated, the girls start to pull other girls into education. Even when we go to our mothers, they feel for people, they have sympathy. So when you educate girls, the education grows, it expands.”
The mothers started by cooking porridge for students at the local school who were going home hungry, as well as buying plates and providing lights for children to study by. When the group saw school attendance increase, they also clubbed together to buy exercise books, pencils, pens, rulers, and mathematical sets, and then visited the families of both boys and girls to dispense the items.
With a small loan from CAMFED, Salamatu’s group set up a revolving loan scheme, and have already trebled the money they originally received. They are able to support other families with business loans, and collect a small amount of interest. The mothers have supported four girls in secondary school, and one young woman through nursing college with their profits, and have never seen a family default.
Salamatu (left) with Mother Support Group members. (Photo: Eliza Powell/CAMFED.)
“My hope is that in the near future all girls in Chereponi [district] should graduate. I’ll be advising them, in collaboration with [CAMFED Association] members, in collaboration with the Mother Support Groups — we team up!”
Salamatu’s group reaches out to newly inducted members of the CAMFED Association — women leaders educated with CAMFED support — passing on soap making skills, allowing them to set up small businesses. She speaks highly of the way the young women also dedicate themselves to supporting the next generation:
“[CAMFED Association] members are doing so much. They are doing what we are also doing. They go to talk to the parents who do not bring their children to school, educate them [on] the importance of schooling.”
Aside from her activities with the Mother Support Group, Salamatu is also pursuing a two-year degree via distance learning from the University of Winneba. Her passion for education, along with her ability to offer practical support and empathy to others, makes her a formidable force for change in her community.