In Sumprecia’s rural village in northeastern Ghana, educating girls is frowned upon.
“Right from childhood, the girls are made to believe that higher education makes it difficult or impossible for a girl to have a husband,” Sumprecia says.
In fact, there are a lot of things girls and women aren’t allowed to do in her village. They are not considered equal to men and, therefore, can’t make important decisions or inherit property. Those who choose to go to school have to scrape together funding on their own. Girls are expected to marry and devote their entire lives to supporting and serving their husband, children, and extended family. Very often, they have no choice in the matter.
“Girls are given out to marriages arranged by parents or as a gift to friends,” Sumprecia explains. “Women are advised to always obey, [and]men are allowed to discipline their wives just like their kids.”
Sumprecia grew up in Yapala, a small farming village. She was one of 17 children, including her siblings and half-siblings from her father’s two wives. When she was old enough for grade 1, she started following her friends to school. Although she was not enrolled, the teachers encouraged her to stay. Eventually, she started doing any kind of farming activities and odd jobs she could find to pay the school fees and enroll officially.
But by the time Sumprecia was qualified for high school, funds had dried up. In her village, it’s common for men to offer to help girls pay for school, but repayment is expected in the form of sexual favors. Exploitation is prevalent, and so is teen pregnancy.
“Most girls drop or become pregnant before grade 9,” Sumprecia says.
Without funding, Sumprecia sat out of school for three years. Longing to finish her education, the teenager boldly approached the pastor of the local Nazarene church she attended to ask for help. The Nazarene district had a compassion fund, and the leadership agreed it should be used to cover Sumprecia’s first-year high school fees and provide two pigs for her to raise. The profits from raising pigs allowed her to finish school without having to turn to men who would exploit her.
Through the church’s support, Sumprecia became the first educated girl in her family.
“For the first time, I felt like I am capable of doing something good, and could do more,” she says.
Sumprecia’s feeling that she could do more led her to create the Nazarene Girls for Justice Club as a way to equip and empower other girls.
The original club with 15 members has grown to more than 750 members. Any girl who is facing an injustice herself or wants to help others address injustice can join.
Together, they contribute “love offerings” during their meetings and manage a bank account where funds for their ministry are kept. They use these funds to address the real-life problems girls are experiencing.
Since the club’s inception, more than 450 girls have either completed high school or learned a vocational skill to support themselves. Many have also gone beyond high school, including Sumprecia, who studied medicine and now works as a nurse.
“We have helped more than 1,700 girls to have a positive view of themselves and to live a biblical moral right life,” Sumprecia says. “I am proud to say, teenage pregnancy and teenage marriages have reduced drastically from 90 percent to 20 percent in the areas we serve.”
This blog is adapted from an upcoming story in NCM Magazine. Subscribe online to read more of Sumprecia’s story and how the Girls for Justice Club is changing lives at ncm.org/magazine.