Germaine Houenoumadin was 12 years old when the Batonga Foundation began working with her in 2008. A middle school student in the town of Zogbodome, Germaine often went to school without breakfast and could rarely afford the necessary supplies. Following her mother’s death, she feared that she would be forced to abandon school to get married or to find a job.
However, with the help of a Batonga Foundation scholarship, all of her school fees were paid for, she received school supplies and shoes, and much to her delight, she even had the time and resources to eat breakfast each morning before school. Germaine’s grades and attendance improved dramatically, helping her continue on to high school.
In 2011, Germaine became pregnant at the age of 15, but persevered and continued to attend classes until leaving briefly in January 2012 to give birth. In February 2012, Germaine returned to school and despite the added responsibilities of being a young mother, continued to excel academically. When tragedy struck, and her daughter passed away in 2014, she again persevered and despite immense odds graduated high school.
Following her graduation, the indomitable Germaine began two endeavors to improve both her quality of life and the quality of the lives of other: she began attending university and she became a Batonga Mentor. After years as a Batonga Scholar, Germaine wanted to give back to her community by becoming a friend, teacher, and confidant to the most off-track girls in her community.
“Being a mentor to these girls has been such a good experience for me. I have grown and learned so much by teaching this curriculum and by serving as a leader and friend to these girls from my community. It has truly opened my mind.”
Germaine Houenoumadin, Batonga Mentor
Silifa is 15 years old, in her third year of secondary school in Nikki, Benin. In her class of 42 students, only 13 are girls. Silifa is able to attend secondary school through Batonga’s support. Silifa comes from a polygamous family, where her mother was one of three wives. When she was 5 years old, Silifa’s father died. Her mother remarried, and now Silifa is one of six children. While her brothers attend school, Silifa’s sisters have never had the chance to attend school. Silfa’s best subjects are Biology and Mathematics. She wants to become a member of the Benin Police Force.
“I am very interested in tutoring activities and sessions on HIV/AIDS and reproductive health organized by Batonga. With Batonga’s guidance, I became determined to not marry at the first opportunity and drop out of school. In my village there are many girls who have dropped out because they became pregnant…if I am able to stay in school, it is thanks to the Batonga program, and I am grateful.”
Asqual is a 21-year-old student from Ethiopia. Her mother and father were not able to provide for all their family’s needs so Batonga started supporting Asqual when she was in grade 10. Through hard work and perseverance she is now a 4th year civil engineering student at Wolaita Sodo University and is apprenticing at a housing development agency. She aspires to complete her program, support poor and needy children, and become self-sufficient.
“I want to say thank Batonga for their continued support. I have no words to express my appreciation.”
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