Salima’s Story: a new start after a missed education

Jul 25, 2018

Salima, from the Democratic Republic of Congo, wasn’t allowed to go to school when she was a child. Having no literacy skills left her vulnerable as an adult, trapped in a cycle of poverty. Learn how our project has helped give Salima a new start.

Pictured: Salima, Kikonde village

Salima, who lives in Kikonde village in the Democratic Republic of Congo, never had the chance to go to school despite her drive to study – her parents didn’t let her go. Instead, she had to stay at home to help her grandmother and do other chores. She told us about how her heart feels engulfed by grief when she remembers how she missed the chance to go to school many years ago. She said:

“My parents are the ones who prevented me from attending school. They told me that going to school would prevent me from getting time to help my grandmother. When I went to school for the first time, my father was so angry that he even beat me. I was very sad but could not do anything against the will of my parents. So, I dropped out. They did not understand the value of enrolling us in school.”

When Salima was forced to drop out of school this affected her life and eventually, she felt like she’d lost interest in education. It wasn’t until she began to operate a retail store in her village that she felt energized to learn literacy skills. She realized that with her low literacy skills, she was being taken advantage of by some customers. She said:

“Some dishonest clients used to cheat me because of my poor counting skills.”

Salima was able to join our home-based literacy and vocational training program, as part of our project with local partner, FEDA. Three months later, she was able to read, write and count. Not only have these new literacy skills helped her improve her lifestyle, but it’s become an essential part of her business, helping her to generate an income. It’s also meant she can begin using a mobile phone, so that she can connect with her family and friends. She said:

“I could not type names or phone numbers. It was really terrible. Today, I know how to write and can easily change settings in a phone. I also have the ability to read letters, newspapers and books. I believe this is important in my life in this era”

In Democratic Republic of the Congo, we and FEDA trained 30 literacy teachers who have already improved the practical reading and writing skills of 209 women like Salima in two villages. In addition, 93 women learned soap-making skills and joined new cooperatives to support themselves and each other in a long-term, sustainable way.

Read more about this project in our recent blog here