13-year-old Malika from Burkina Faso’s capital city, Ouagadougou, is helping her rural peers in the northeastern province of Namentenga get to school by bicycle.
After being inspired by the International Day of the Girl celebrations on October 11th, 2012, Malika decided to get involved with the Because I am a Girl movement.
Staying in school is difficult when children live 10km to 15km away from the nearest school. Parents often cannot afford transportation costs and many girls must walk long distances to school, or drop out.
Inspired to help
Malika, who is in grade 8, recruited the help of three friends and her parents to run a stall at her school’s Christmas fair. She sold child rights cartoon books and Because I am a Girl swag, as well as t-shirts from Plan Burkina Faso.
“I approached relatives, friends and anyone I knew who came to our house or to my grandfather’s and found me at home,” explains Malika.
After three months of fundraising Malika raised about $4,000, enough to buy 60 bicycles. That means that 60 school girls can now get to and from school without having to walk 15 km each way!
“Today, I look at all these bicycles intended for young girls like me, girls with ambition and a strong desire to learn. I feel joy at having accomplished just a small thing for other people, and at realizing that everywhere around the world are people who are concerned about the welfare of others.”
Franceline, 14, accepted the bikes on behalf of her schoolmates. She said: “Today is an important day in our school lives, because these bikes will improve our conditions as students. For that reason, we feel grateful to Malika for her gifts. These bikes make a real difference! Thanks for relieving us of the daily painful walk we have been going through so far”.
The province of Namentenga was chosen to receive these bicycles because it is one of the 45 provinces with the lowest schooling rates in Burkina Faso. After primary school, only 12.8% of girls and 20.4% of boys in Namentenga go on to secondary school. Even fewer finish secondary school; 4.6% of these girls completed secondary school, compared to 10.5% of boys.