In addition to an ancient cultural bias against educating females, girls were kept at home because of work expectations (fetching water, firewood, tending small animals, etc.) and dangers from animals and abduction on the long walk to school. Girls also had to leave with the family during seasonal migrations.
The hostel provides the opportunity for education, psychologically and socially empowering girls.
With the financial assistance of the Westlock Rotary Club, the Fentelle Girls’ Hostel was built to provide the pastoralist girls with the opportunity to continue their education to Grade 7, thereby psychologically and socially empowering them.
The hostel at Dhebiti was a first in Karayu and serves as a model for the promotion of women and girls in pastoralist societies. The girls receive tutoring to increase their academic competence, and benefit from workshops on topics such as gender equality, harmful traditional practices, and HIV/AIDS. They also develop skills in home economics, nutrition, conservation, and tree planting.
The residents of the hostel participate in income-generating activities, including vegetable gardening, poultry production, craft making, cattle fattening, and beekeeping. The income from these activities helps to sustain the girls and the hostel.
The hostel provided a life-saving alternative for 60 girls when it opened in 2004. Rotarians most recently visited the hostel in 2010 to discover there were more than 100 girls living there and going to school. ! The first girl to attend school has graduated high school and is on the way to a certificate in the practice of law. Girls’ education is now the norm and hundreds of girls have graduated from high school and post-secondary schools!
In a poem of appreciation written by one of the girls in 2004, she expresses the meaning of the support and recognition of Rotarians far away:
It Is A Miracle
By Worke Aldago
Rejoice, a miracle!
Something very special happened
I’ve been noticed, recognized.
Years have come and years have passed
But I seem to be static
Nothing changes, nothing grows
Life had no colour, no meaning
But as I trotted along the road
Full of thorns and thistles,
I caught a glimpse of
Glimmer of lights,
A chance for change
A chance to grow
A hostel? Or a miracle
Oh, how I rejoice and praise God!
To realize that there are people who care,
Ready to shoulder my burden Away, in a far-away country
Who think about me
My education, my wellbeing
The Westlock Rotary Club!
Your kindness moves me.