Tizita: Baking a sweet future for girls

Tizita: Baking a sweet future for girls

“Many girls believe in her,” her teacher told us. “She has mobilized many girl students to become active members of the club.”

Tizita, 15, stands in front of a blue wall, smiling in her pink and purple school uniform.

Tizita, 15, saw too many girls dropping out of school. So she decided to do something.

Tizita leaves her classroom at the midday bell every day to go and open the doors to the pastry shop she helps to run. She walks past the students and teachers eagerly standing outside the shop, waiting to purchase baked goods and snacks to eat.

She laughs with other members of the Girls Club that she helps to lead, as they prepare to serve their customers.

Tizita and her friends sell everything they’ve made. And before they head back to class, they’ve earned a profit that gets saved. It’s an impressive feat for a group of young girls – many from poor families – living in Woliso, Ethiopia.

What is most extraordinary, is how they choose to spend the money they earn.

It all started when fifteen-year-old Tizita and her fellow Girls Club members felt unhappy with the mandate of their group. The Girls Club had been formed to help raise awareness of the importance of girls’ education.

Raising awareness, they’d all agree, is important in their community where girls are often the last to be sent to school.

But it didn’t feel like they were doing enough. And girls kept dropping out.

Tizita, left, and two other girls clean a cabinet in their pastry shop.

Tizita, left, and the girls club pitch in to clean up the pastry shop.

They knew from their own experiences that one of the biggest reasons girls leave school is because they cannot afford sanitary pads to use during menstruation.

“I personally have seen many girls who were very shy and lost their confidence when they have started menstruating, particularly those from poor families,” Tizita explained.

So they came up with an idea. Tizita petitioned Canadian Feed The Children’s local partner CHAD-ET to help the Girls Club open up the pastry shop at school. CHAD-ET helped provide a safe structure for the shop and they trained Tizita and five other Girls Club members on how to run a small business.

Tizita collected the start-up funds they needed from other Girls Club members and students who offered to support their plan.

Then they opened their pastry shop – earning nearly 8,000 Ethiopian birr ($490 CAD) this year alone!

With these funds, they have provided 20 vulnerable girls at school with sanitary pads each month, helping to keep them in school.

They’ve also given school uniforms, soap, and eye glasses to girls who need them. And, they are saving money to furnish a classroom that will be used for girls’ counselling services.

Thanks to Tizita’s leadership and motivation, interest in the Girls Club has grown and now has over 40 members.

“Many girls believe in her,” her teacher told us. “She has mobilized many girl students to become active members of the club and guides them to participate in volunteering.”

Members of the girls club meet to plan their next activity.

Tizita’s determination to keep girls in school comes at a time when her own future is not secure.

She lives with an aunt away from home to go to school – while her mother, a widow, works hard on the family farm to earn enough money to support her dreams.

“I will study hard and graduate from university in order to gain a good job and a better life,” she told us, thinking about her future. “I want to be an engineer because I have a strong interest in improving my country.”

In the same way that Tizita helps other girls’ dreams come true, with support from her family, her community, and generous donors like you, she can achieve hers too.

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