This is Girl Child Celebration Week involving all the older girls in the Junior High Schools from around the District. They spend all week in Nadowli preparing for today's celebrations with the Girl Child Education Coordinator and taking part in a range of activities. The issue of girls remaining in education and raising awareness of their self worth is enormous here as so many are pregnant very young or are expected to stay and work in the house. Yesterday, a competition of debates and quizes took place. Today started with a procession accompanied by drums and singing as the girls snaked around the neighbourhood.
The banner reads "Guide and direct us and we will become better people". As an invited guest, I sat with Madam Director and others under the trees and watched as the events unfolded. Lots of speeches were made and the hundreds of children from local schools who gathered round to watch and support their friends were very well behaved considering the tedium of some of it. Some watched from up in the trees, the best view over all the heads.
The celebrations included dancing, poetry, singing and some drama, all on the theme of girls taking care of their best interests and celebrating their talents.
The quality of the performances was very good and the entire audience appreciated their skills. The children don't smile a great deal and take photos very seriously. I struggle to get the older ones to look cheerful. That's not so hard with the toddlers! There were very young children there all looked after by older friends and siblings. Very few adults were in evidence.
By the end of the 3 hours when the sun had chased me out from under the canopy of leaves a number of times & the audience had crept forward and been ushered back frequently, the events drew to a close. It had been a fantastic experience to, not only, observe children performing, but also to watch others supporting and appreciating them. This is something that used to warm my heart particularly in my own school. Children around the world are not so different!
I was surprised to be presented with a box of cooked rice and chicken and a can of fruit juice to take away with me! It was very nice. However, I would have been happier if the children had had some. All of them needed it. There is a programme of school meals provision so I hope they ate afterwards, but I am sure theirs would not have included chicken. I was advised that to give my gift away would not have been received well.