In the 16th century the Dutch theologian, Erasmus, said “The main hope of a nation lies in the proper education of its youth”. Mende intuitively knew what Erasmus concluded centuries ago. At the moment she attained her freedom she was determined to bring hope to her nation.
“To give a child an education is essential and very important for me. It gives children hope and they will live a better life. My schooling was cut short in the Nuba Mountains so I painfully understand the value of education and how important it is for development. I believe every child deserves to be educated.”
Even the toughest critics of foreign aid will agree that educating the next generation is the most effective means of lifting the despair after so many years of conflict. Education is an investment that will continue to give.
The Nuba people themselves value education above most things and are keenly interested in the outside world. They rightly see education as the foundation for Nuba’s future. The war destroyed the Nuba Mountains and resulted in a “lost generation” who lack education and have a low prospect for employment. They rightly see their children as the future.
Slavery is a war against the core values of humanity. We believe in the slogan:
Peace through Law
Law through Education
During interviews Mende often states “Through education a child can know his or her rights. It is a weapon that a child has -through knowledge of ones own rights, some could protect themselves against some of the abuses that I suffered. I was sold into slavery before I had a proper chance to learn. I didn’t know my rights and I was more vulnerable to exploitation.”
In the past few years, Mende’s story has taken on new wings with the film and now the play. Her story is timeless. She was a beaten and raped teenage girl with nothing but the shirt on her back. For her formative years she was called Abda, which means slave or person with no name. She was someone who had every reason to give up on life. But she did not. She had faith and hope. This testimony transcends ethnicity, religion and gender and it is the magnet that has drawn in people from all over the world to support her efforts. With this new awareness it is our wish to turn your enthusiasm for her story into schools in the heart of the Nuba Mountains.
When a girl in the developing world receives seven or more years of education, she marries four years later and has 2.2 fewer children. (United Nations Population Fund, State of World Population 1990.)
An extra year of primary school boosts girls’ eventual wages by 10 to 20 percent. An extra year of secondary school: 15 to 25 percent. (George Psacharopoulos and Harry Anthony Patrinos, “Returns to Investment in Education: A Further Update,” Policy Research Working Paper 2881 [Washington, D.C.: World Bank, 2002].)
Research in developing countries has shown a consistent relationship between better infant and child health and higher levels of schooling among mothers. (George T. Bicego and J. Ties Boerma, “Maternal Education and Child Survival: A Comparative Study of Survey Data from 17 Countries,” Social Science and Medicine 36 (9) [May 1993]: 1207–27.)
When women and girls earn income, they reinvest 90 percent of it into their families, as compared to only 30 to 40 percent for a man. (Phil Borges, with foreword by Madeleine Albright, Women Empowered: Inspiring Change in the Emerging World [New York: Rizzoli, 2007], 13.)