Every Girl Matters for intrepid students

Date 30.09.2019

Helping African girls stay in school for longer and empowering them with a better education has been the driving force for students to self-fund a trip to support a leading aid organisation.

Second year Social Work students – Danika Williams and Natalie Douglas – will put their learning to the test in June next year when the two fly out to the West Nile region of Uganda to back a project called Keep a Girl in School with their own campaign Every Girl Matters.

Run by the Uganda Red Cross Society, Keep a Girl in School provides sanitary products, better toilet and washroom facilities and produces educational material to improve how school girls in the West Nile manage their menstrual health.

Due to a lack of facilities, adolescent girls in Africa can miss days in school each month which, cumulatively, affect their educational progress compared with their male peers.

During their time in the region, Danika and Natalie plan to distribute sanitary products to the girls and engage in talks with them and with boys to raise awareness of the importance of schemes like Keep a Girl in School.

Their project has been kick-started by British Association of Social Workers (BASW) international division, who have part-fund the students’ air fare and British Airways, who have agreed to boost this total from the in-house charitable bake sales held by their staff members.

The challenge for the students is to drum up enough extra money to support them for the time they are in West Nile.

With this in mind they are creating a schedule of activities over the next few months that include a kick-off campaign during Welcome Week at the University, bake sales and raffles and a ‘big fun day’ carnival, pencilled in for spring 2020.

They will be accompanied by Lesley Best – a social worker herself and former senior lecturer with the University and pictured above being interviewed by BBC Northampton’s Jona Kotnis – who will manage their learning outcomes during the trip.

Lesley will also be working with the Uganda Red Cross to develop safeguarding training materials for West Nile staff who work directly with people displaced by conflict in the region and host communities.

Of their charitable exploits, Danika said: “There are so many important reasons to spotlight Keep a Girl in School, but for me it comes down to just two.

“As the mother to two intelligent and determined young girls, I see how they thrive from having access to education. Their potential grows every day and it touches my heart to think how many other young girls are denied this.

“We’re not one’s to rest on our laurels in social work so we’re embracing the University’s Changemaker spirit and getting out into the world to make a difference.”

To find out more about the students’ fundraising and to donate.

Follow Danika and Natalie’s exploits on Twitter or Instagram: everygirlmatters20_21