No Shirt – No Shoes – No Education

How can a girl attend school without a dress or shoes? 10 year-old Yom stands quietly at a distance and listens to the neighbors talk about her. Everyone knows her story, and she knows that it leaves her in a precarious position.

Yom was just a baby when her father was killed. Her mother was still young and wanted a fresh start, so she left. The only person Yom has left is her disabled grandmother. “It’s like two children living together.” a neighbor said. Yom’s grandmother had a stroke years ago which left her nearly blind and weak on one side. Yom and her grandmother live in a small tukel under a lalob tree. The neighbors do what they can, but they don’t have any extra to share.

New dress and shoes

Yom in her new dress and shoes.

It was the doctor at Memorial Christian Hospital that introduced Yom to us. He explained that girls like Yom are often married off early because there is no one to take care of them. A relative will collect the bride price and feels as though the girl is better off where she is at least getting food and shelter. “Her only chance at a future is to get an education.” says Dr. Ajak. But how can a girl go to school without a dress or shoes?
When our container arrived, Teresa remembered the box of dresses made by the sewing group at Chicora Country Chapel. The ladies at the school helped choose two dresses for Yom. We also gave her a bar of laundry soap and a pair of shoes.

Yom is very shy and really struggles to read, but her teachers tell us she is improving. She is currently in 1st grade, but will be promoted to 2nd grade if her reading improves a little more.