My name is Larissa Sousa and I started the Girls’ Clubs in Gorongosa National Park, Mozambique. With a Management degree, I have always believed in the power of education and what it brought me. And so, I pledged to myself that I was going to help every child that I could to get an education. Being a Mum myself, I can’t help but be there for these girls, just like someone was there for me when my parents couldn’t be.
The Girls’ Club programme is one of the Gorongosa Project’s main educational initiatives. We aim to keep girls in schools and away from early marriages. By implementing after school activities with girls between the ages of 10 and 16, we ensure they have the tools they need to face the world. Unfortunately, for economic and cultural reasons, these teenage girls are at risk of getting sent to be married and then becoming pregnant. This prevents a girl from exploring and fulfilling her full potential. So we talk to them, as well as to their parents, about the importance of getting an education and being able to provide for themselves and others in future.
We started with 17 Girls’ Clubs and now seven years later we have 92, working with 3,680 girls who live near the National Park.
In Africa, we believe that when we educate a woman, we educate a society. Education is also their Human Right. These Girls’ Clubs are meant to be safe havens where we discuss career opportunities. We break barriers and show these girls real-life examples of who they can become by introducing them to role models, such as the female scientists and conservationists that work in Gorongosa National Park with whom they can relate. In this way, we open doors of possibility that were not previously open for them. We started with 17 Girls’ Clubs and now seven years later we have 92, that are working with 3,680 girls who live near the National Park. We can confidently say that we have stopped thousands of early marriages, and have helped more than 80 girls get their high school and technical qualifications.