Everyone is quick to acknowledge the importance and value of educating girls. Years of preference towards boys as being the “producers” has left girls in many developing nations lagging well behind in terms of education and opportunity investment – a GAP that poses a real barrier to advancement. Captivating aims to stand in this GAP, forming a bridge leading to a better, safer and poverty-free future. We know that doing this does SO MUCH MORE than just helping a girl. It helps her family, her community, her world.

The education of girls sits behind much of the work we do in Nepal, China and Kenya. Although education is no guarantee to a poverty-free future, it is still one of the most solid investments that can be made. At Captivating, educating girls is more than simply offering a scholarship. Because we accept new projects on a case-by-case basis, our solutions must remain flexible to ensure we achieve program success as well as good value. So, to date, our projects have fallen into the following 4 key areas:

 

Getting girls back into school

At the most basic level we aim to get school-aged girls who have dropped out back into school. The reasons can be many – family poverty, the child is orphaned or abandoned and cared for by relatives who don’t really care, or parents that simply do not see value in the education of girls. Of course these are all rather simplistic reasons. For many who are struggling financially, it’s an ‘opportunity cost’ calculation they are forced to make. We truly believe that most parents would prefer to have all their children in school. But, when poverty is involved it becomes a carefully considered return on investment choice followed by tough decisions. Mix into this cultural preferences, challenges of rural school quality issues, personal experience of parents who are largely uneducated, and the need for girls to be at home to help with the housework and herding (freeing up mum to take a job in the nearby city), the GAP suddenly gets wider and wider.

What we do: sometimes, the only option that exists for a girl whose parents might have abandoned her or those who see no value in her education, is to fully fund her early years of schooling. If the parents don’t value her education, addressing the poverty of this family is no guarantee of education for the girl. We will consider support for a girl up to Grade 6 ensuring that she can at least read and write. Then, it’s a question of what next. At least she has a starting point for making choices. Captivating’s bridge over the gap has come into play.

Vocational Skills Scholarships

Although some students are academically capable, in most cases girls have missed too much school to have dreams of university and being a doctor one day (a common desire). What is more realistic is attending a vocational training school focused on a specific skill set. These schools generally have as their final year an ‘internship’ focused approach which leads a girl purposefully into her first job. In a place like China which has taken incredible steps forward in creating viable options, scholarships already exist for such programs. However, still for poorer families, the cost is beyond reach. This creates an opportunity for Captivating to work to bridge the gap and see a girl move towards independence.

Taking that first step into their first job

Our most satisfying work is seeing a girl succeed by stepping successfully into her first paying job and move towards genuine independence. Without help, the choices are limited and, of course, risks of abuse and being taken advantage of is significant. Without help, girls risk being lured into jobs that promise much, but at it’s very worst are disguised for prostitution, human trafficking, theft, distribution of drugs, or other dehumanizing ventures. Captivating works to fill this gap by looking for job opportunities; providing mentoring on life and basic job skills to improve a girl’s chances of getting a better job, and; establishing safe and trusted networks among businesses willing to support them and give them the good start they would not normally be expecting.

Address a family’s poverty

Last, but far from least, is working on the principle that many parents long for their children to be the best they can be. If poverty is the key barrier to ongoing education, then it makes sense to improve the family’s financial situation so they can solve their own problems. This takes many forms at Captivating, as can be seen in our varied projects.

When we consider taking on projects in a village setting, our first priority (and motivation) is from the perspective of the needs of the children.

Our key questions are,

“what are the urgent needs of the children in this family or village?”
“how can we help to sustainably increase family incomes to resolve this problem?”.



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