The Tale of Two Sisters: Menna and Amira
On Day of the Girl 2018, we are delighted to share with you the story of Menna. She is the younger sister of Amira, whose story we shared with you last year on Day of the Girl.
Watch this video of Menna who is in the tutoring program in the Middle East run by AWEMA, our partner in the region. AWEMA is making sure the girls in their programs know God loves them and cares about what affects them.
Menna is the little sister of Amira, the star student in the tutoring program who was featured last year in Tirzah’s Day of the Girl. After four years learning to sing, study and shine, Amira suddenly dropped out of the program. Staff went searching for her to see if they could bring her back. Decisions had been taken by her family that betrothed 12 year old Amira to a much older uncle. Amira was now working to support her family and had no time left for school. We’ve learned that Amira is still not married, although she has also not been able to return to the program.
We love that Menna is still in the program – she comes carrying her 2 ½ year old sister on her back (or else Menna would have to watch her sister at home) Menna has a keen mind, a beautiful smile and a beautiful heart (you’ll learn all about it when you watch the short video!) In her words, you’ll hear how God’s love is impacting her life and you’ll see how crucial it is for all of us to seek to understand the vulnerability of girls and stand with them.
If you haven’t yet heard Amira’s story, please listen to it. It is devastating how quickly child marriage can up-end the life of a girl.
Tirzah International's Arab World partner works to keep young girls in school and to let them know that they are special. This is something that many of them don't hear nearly enough. The work is challenging and the girls face many obstacles.
Listen to this message as shared by one of the women working with young girls in Cairo:
I want you to imagine a 12 year-old girl. What does she look like? What does she need? She needs encouragement. She needs love. She needs affection. And of course, 12 year-olds need to play – they love to play.
Amira is 12 years old. Her name means ‘princess.’ She’s originally from Upper Egypt. She moved with her family to Cairo when she was eight. While in Upper Egypt, Amira was in school. When she came to Cairo she dropped out of school.
We met her in Cairo. We knew she was no longer in school so we wanted her to continue her education. We took her to join school again in Cairo. She’s so intelligent, so sensitive, gentle, so sincere. Her voice is so good and she’s a fast learner – in everything, in crafts, education. Thinking of this girl and dreaming of a future for her, we can imagine such an intelligent girl can have a really good future. We can easily dream for many things for her.
She stayed with us for four years. She went to school; she came to our NGO. We played together when she was young - we painted with her, we played with clay and we listened to her singing. At the time of the feast, she is the first one to sing the songs of the season and she is really good at that.
Well, she stopped coming three months ago or more. We asked why she was no longer there. We knew that her parents wanted her to get married at the age of 12. With this in mind, Amira had become engaged to a relative in her family and we no longer saw her.
Amira is now out of school. She is cleaning houses and working. She is not playing and she is not studying. She is not a child anymore. Last month she got engaged to be married* to her relative. All the rights she has as a child are taken away from her. We tried to talk to her family, we encouraged others to speak with the family, but there is nothing to do. She got engaged* in the Al Adha Feast a few weeks ago.
We won't give up on girls around the world, no matter how many challenges they face. Will you stand with us? Your gift of $25 today will help girls like Amira hold on to their childhood.
*the audio translation of this text originally had “married” rather than “engaged to be married” as a mistranslation. Amira was in fact betrothed to her fiancé at the time of publishing (Oct. 2017)