Special school is a safe space for girls escaping gender violence

POSTED agosto 11, 2021

Special school is a safe space for girls escaping gender violence

Abibou shares how Children Believe helped her find new opportunities and a more fulfilling life in Burkina Faso

By Patrice Zongo, communications manager, Burkina Faso

Girls sit with nun

In a remote village in Burkina Faso, a nondescript building is a haven for 96 girls and young women who have escaped gender violence. Here they are safe from early, forced marriage and other dangers. Abibou, the youngest among them, discovered a new life thanks to the Children Believe-supported boarding school and training centre.

“My uncle insisted I marry one of his friends who already had six wives and many children,” the young teen told me. “I would prefer to die than to live that way.”

Abibou’s fear of forced marriage was exacerbated by what she had witnessed. In her home village, she often saw her cousin beating his wife and children. She watched her older sister forced into marriage by her uncle. It was traumatic.

“She is living with her husband but is not happy,” Abibou says. “I didn’t want to be like her.”

Abibou’s sister attempted suicide by swallowing pills. She survived but remains trapped in her marriage. For Abibou, a brother who had moved to another town for work intervened when he learned of her situation.

Girl hold her bicycle

“He threatened my uncle that the police would be called if he forced me into marriage,” Abibou explains.

When her uncle would not relent, her brother brought her to the boarding school and training centre. The learning centre was created in 1951 and is run by five nuns who care for and train the girls.

Children Believe, with help from a European Union grant, is helping fund the learning centre so girls can get an education, study to cook, care for a home and acquire trades such as sewing, knitting, soap-making and hairdressing.

The Children Believe project provides food, hygiene kits, healthcare and occasional security in the centre when girls need protection.

For now, Abibou is preparing to start training in sewing and to continue her education in class. Through generous donors, Abibou also received a new bicycle to give her and other girls at the centre a form of transportation. Her future looks bright.

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Children Believe trabaja a nivel mundial para empoderar a la niñez a soñar sin miedo, defender lo que creen y ser escuchados. Durante 60 años, hemos reunido a jóvenes soñadores valientes, simpatizantes, socios e idealistas. Juntos, nos impulsa una creencia común: crear acceso a la educación, dentro y fuera de las aulas. La educación es la herramienta más poderosa que la niñez pueden usar para cambiar su mundo.


A member of ChildFund Alliance, Children Believe is part of a global network of child-focused development organizations working to create opportunities for children and youth, their families and communities. ChildFund helps nearly 23-million children and their families in 70 countries overcome poverty and underlying conditions that prevent children from achieving their full potential. We work to end violence against children; provide expertise in emergencies and disasters to ease the harmful impact on children and their communities; and engage children and youth to create lasting change and elevate their voices in decisions that affect their lives.