I met Rachia a couple of weeks ago during a story gathering trip to Ghana. Ben Langdon and I were there on behalf of VSO and we were gathering stories, photographs and films about a programme they run with Comic Relief which is all about getting more girls in to school.
Rachia’s Dad died when she was tiny and her Mum did not send her to school. One day when she was still primary school age she heard another girl singing and asked her where she learnt the song. The girl answered “at school”. The next day Rachia followed the girl to school and registered herself.
Almost twenty years later, Rachia is a qualified teacher and is working at that very school. She became a teacher because she wanted to play a part in helping children in the community where she was born have the opportunities she almost missed out on. As well as being a teacher she also runs an after school girls’ club which is educating girls about things
This community is Wungu in West Mamprusi, a part of Ghana where often girls do not go to school. Girls who do enrol often perform poorly because after school they are expected to help with the chores and don’t have time to study, or they leave to marry young.
While we were at the school I interviewed 15 year old Nuria. She told me how girls at the school didn’t used to care much for their education and used to be more interested in finding boyfriends and settling down. They used to go to parties at night and sleep at school in the day. She said that now they see Rachia and they want to behave like her, dress like her and look like her. Female ambition in the school is growing by the day.
I think Nuria landed the quote of the trip when she was talking about Rachia: “She tells us to study hard, marry our books and give birth to education.”
But pithy spine tingling sound bites aside, it shows just how important positive female role models are for girls in Ghana. I hope there are hundreds more Remarkable Rachias out there. Happy International Women’s Day to all of you.