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2007.03.21
* UNICEF: Liberia girls' education, the story of Mamiwhe * March 2-3, 2 After school, 16 year-old Mamiwhe Kpahgbor goes to the market to help her mother sell fish in Liberia’s capital, Monrovia. At her stall each day, Mamiwhe’s mother, Elizabeth, struggles to make ends meet to support her family. Sending her 4 children to school was always a priority. SOT: Elizabeth Kpahghor, Mamiwhe’s mother “To send my children to school is hard, very, very hard.” In a country where only 26 per cent of women are literate, Mamiwhe is one of the lucky few who made it to high school. The 10th grader says she likes studying, most topics anyway. SOT: Mamiwhe Kpahgbor, 16 year old “I really love school and I love…, I do well in economics, that’s my subject, I do well in economics and physics, physics gives me problems, it’s very hard!” Poverty, social-cultural practices and Liberia’s civil war have had a devastating impact on education. The war disrupted the school system and traumatized children. SOT: Mamiwhe Kpahgbor, 16 year old “The war was so bad. In a war you don’t have food, no food! I got problems. My father got sick and he died during the war, it was so bad!” Now that the conflict has ended, UNICEF is helping get more than 1 million children to school. Getting an education has been especially hard for girls who are asked to help around the house and are traditionally discriminated against. Sexual abuse and exploitation is another problem for girls and early marriage or pregnancies often interrupt their schooling. SOT: Mamiwhe Kpahgbor, 16 year old “After the delivery, they get so weak. They say “I’m so old to get back to school, I will be shamed, my friends will laugh at me”. They don’t go again, they just sit. That’s why I want to make a difference.” Mamiwhe says she wants to become an architect and hopes to get married but not too early. SOT: Mamiwhe Kpahgbor, 16 year old ”I want to get married when I’m 24 or 25. Me looking, first, I would like to love the man. I would like this man to be, you know, educated. Handsome? Of course that part is out of the question because he must be handsome!” As Liberia rebuilds, Mamiwhe is hopeful her education will help her make a difference.
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