We have recently partnered up with eBay for Charity to launch a ‘beds for girls’ project – Dare2Dream – which aims to empower girls by giving them a bed for the night near school. Our goal is to buy 85 bunk beds so 170 schoolgirls have a safe place to sleep and can continue their studies.
In the remote north of Tanzania, a bed can truly be a springboard to changing lives. Many Maasai and other pastoralist girls have to walk 10-22km to get to their nearest school. The journey is not only exhausting but dangerous – there’s the constant threat of attack by wildlife or by young Maasai warriors determined to prove their manhood by sleeping with a virgin.
To address the issue, African Initiatives and our partner CASEC (Community Aid & Small Enterprises Consultancy) got involved with the construction of 45 school dormitories. That was in 2009 and, in subsequent years, more funding was secured to provide beds for 31 of the dormitories. Of course, that leaves 14 of the dormitories still unfurnished and girls forced to sleep on the floor.
Lack of a bed leads to pneumonia (it can get exceedingly cold at night in the East African Rift Valley) and malaria (there’s no bed frame on which to attach a mosquito net). It also leads to poor education performance and girls dropping out of school.