Hawanatu lives in the Monkey Bush community of Waterloo. Education is not free in Sierra Leone; families must pay for tuition, uniforms, school supplies, and other school fees. With parents struggling to provide for their families, this expense is many times not possible.
Typically, those who can afford to send their children to school will choose to send only their sons. Girls will be left at home to tend to daily chores and their younger siblings while parents work.
This lack of education and supervision leads girls just entering into adolescence very vulnerable to teenage pregnancy. For girls who have not been given access to education, they are often left with no option but to marry as early as 16 years of age, so they can be financially supported by their husband.
Hawanatu lives with her mother and one other sibling. Hawanatu’s father abandoned the family when he could no longer afford to provide for them. Her mother barely makes enough to meet their daily needs, but she will work hard to save money for Hawanatu’s school fees.
Hawanatu’s mother is not able to pay the tuition in full, so she is asked out of school when the balance is due. Once her mother has gathered enough money, Hawanatu can resume learning. Hawanatu is in Class 2 and she would like to become a doctor in the future.