De droom van Noëlie

Noëlie Dossou van Kissamey epicentrum (Benin) is 16 jaar. Noëlie is een van de youth leaders van het epicentrum. Ze komt uit een arm polygaam gezin van één vader, drie moeders en in totaal 22 kinderen. De toekomst van Noëlie leek vast te staan: ze zou geen toegang hebben tot school, en zeker niet tot de middelbare school. In Noëlie’s familie had geen enkel kind meer dan basis onderwijs gevolgd. Toch zit Noëlie in de eerste klas van de middelbare school en droomt ze ervan om docent wiskunde te worden. Om die droom te verwezenlijken neemt ze haar school heel serieus en grijpt ze elke kans en gelegenheid aan. Waardoor het Noëlie wel lukt om haar droom na te jagen en ze nu een van de leiders van Kissamey is? Lees hier haar verhaal:

“Very early on, I realized that it wouldn’t be easy for me to achieve my dream of going far with my studies and becoming a mathematics teacher. My family is poor and has few resources to cater for the needs of my siblings and myself.

I therefore opted to start a small business of buying and selling vegetables (tomatoes, okra, peppers and others) and foodstuffs (cassava flour and maize). I was obliged to take that initiative when I was in form 3, at age 15, when resources became very scarce and the situation was pushing me to drop out of school. I had succeeded in getting CFAF 6,000 (US $12) from my mother to start my business. Wednesday afternoons, when I did not have class, and on weekends, I would seize the opportunity to give time to my little trade. The benefits of that enterprise allowed me to stay in school from form 3 to form 4. I had to return the CFAF6,000 to my mother; I was obliged to do so and that seriously limited my capacities to continue my activities. I then had to borrow CFAF 5,000 (US $10) from my mother again.

I kept fighting on until I met The Hunger Project team at Kissamey last summer during a VCA session that they were holding with the youth. I discovered some new energy, especially when the team talked about income-generating activities that young people can carry out. Young people from the village, including myself, received CFAF 10,000 (US $20) as pedagogical support funds for the promotion of youth entrepreneurship. Given my previous experiences in small trading, I succeeded in getting my village’s youth to let me be the first one to use the funds and I yielded much profit: CFAF 20,000 (US $40) in just two months. I was therefore able to get financially ready for entering form 6, and I was also able to raise a small capital of CFAF 8,000 (US $16) to continue my trading activities.

I am convinced that with the training that The Hunger Project is giving the youth, many youngsters like me will be able to avoid dropping out of school because of the lack of financial resources that hits our parents. Also, those who were obliged to drop out are already discovering fresh hope with The Hunger Project through the “youth mobilization initiative for the achievement of the MDGs in the epicenters”. To tell the truth, we favorably welcome this initiative.”

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Benin, Noelie Dossou. Foto: Reinier van Oorsouw