|current structure about the same size
|Current foundation that will hopefully become a hostel building
A hostel is a term that is used here as a place for students to live and study while school is in session, a controlled environment with a night matron that is used by schools without official dorms. By and large these hostels are reserved for girls who experience even more barriers to completing their secondary education while at home than boys do. There are many barriers to receiving a good education for both boys and girls in Tanzania. They both go home to many chores such as fetching water, cooking, cleaning, working in the family farm, caring for little children, etc. Often times students will work from the time they get home until after dark. At this point they have no light to study with because the family cannot afford school fees and extra fuel for the lantern. You may think I am talking about the minority of students, but in fact I am talking about the majority of students who attend our school, especially since we are a mission school and try to look out for the students who are struggling as best we are able. These are challenges that many students face, but girls in Tanzania have additional challenges.
There are several reasons that a girl can be kicked out of school that do not affect boys. If a girl becomes pregnant or is married they are automatically expelled. You would think this is a small thing, but it has caused a high rate of abortion among teenage girls because they do not want to have to leave school. Being at a hostel with a strict night matron tends to cut down on the number of girls that get pregnant ;). There are also several families that will marry off their daughter if she is around the house because they get paid for her getting married. This makes it common for a struggling family to marry off their daughter who is still in school so that they have the money to continue to struggle for a little bit longer. However for a hostel, out of site out of mind, seems to play true in the experience of people here.
The last reason for a hostel is female circumcision or FGM. This is still a common practice with the tribe we currently work with. A hostel can be a place for girls to hide out during the season of circumcision. If she is not at home when the tribal rites are going on they will not take the time to do it later, so being in a hostel during this time does actually make her safe.
So we are hoping by the end of this year that we will be able to have some girls hanging their school backpacks up in our new hostel, a safe haven for them, their education, and their future.
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