Girls in the Kaluri community in the Nadowli-Kaleo District of the Upper West Region have been inspired to continue schooling through the receipt of gift packages from Maria Johana Yuorpor on her birthday.
Maria Johana Yuorpor, the Founder and Director of Mara Foods, Mara Closet, and Beautiful Smiles Project, gifted female school children in the community with essential learning materials and sanitary goods to help them stay in school without hindrances.
The gift hampers, worth thousands of Ghana cedis, included bags, sanitary pads, exercise books, story books, mathematical sets, pens, pencils and erasers.
In all, 15 pupils of Kaluri Junior High School, seven pupils attending school at Sankana and Kaleo, and six school dropout girls from the community received the packages containing packs of sanitary pads and various learning materials.
The Kaluri Junior High and Primary Schools also received exercise books to share among the pupils as well as assorted story books to stock their library shelves.
The donation of the items followed an initial visit to the community by Maria’s Beautiful Smiles Project and partner, Khad-san Africa, to interact with young girls in the community where it was discovered that most girls were disproportionately denied access to education due to issues of menstruation and their inability to purchase sanitary pads.
In her remarks at a short ceremony to mark the birthday and donate the items at the Kaluri School premises, Maria Johana said she was elated to be sharing a joyous moment of her life with the children, chiefs, queenmothers and people of the Kaluri community.
She said she was particularly touched by the information she gathered from the girl children during her previous visit to the community where they expressed concerns about not having learning materials and sanitary goods to keep them in school.
“When we visited here [Kaluri community], you told us you did not have learning materials and some of you mentioned sanitary pads. Today, the little we have been able get is here just to help you,” she remarked.
She urged the girls who were in school to always remember and be inspired by her gesture that “a certain woman and her team came here and they are the reason I have this bag and these learning materials” so as to be their best selves in school and everything they do.
Maria Johana also urged the girls to build personal diaries that record their life ambitions and daily activities and keep track of their progress in pursuit of their goals.
Meanwhile, the girls who were out of school were encouraged to return to school and among them was one who, according to Maria Johana, inspired her donation to the girls and pupils in the community.
She was instantly provided with the items she needed to return to school.
The Assembly Member-elect for the Samatigu Electoral Area under which Kaluri falls, Madam Millicent Zuuri encouraged the girls who received the gift packages to take their education serious and lead exemplary lives worthy for the emulation of their younger sisters.
She said “we want that in the next five years, we should have girls from Kaluri admitted in the colleges, universities, and polytechnics” and assured that the first girl to be able to do that would be given an award.
She offered to arrange a meeting with the girls who dropped out of school to ascertain their concerns and facilitate their return to school, working in tandem with the Beautiful Smiles Project team.
She urged parents and guardians of the community to never give up on their parental roles over their children and to always ensure their wards remain in school.
The Head teachers of the Kaluri Junior High, Primary and Kindergarten expressed profound gratitude to the Beautiful Smiles Project team for the gesture and prayed the blessings of God upon the life of Maria Johana, the founder and celebrant.
“We pray that she gets the means to continue doing these for us and others to help Ghana develop and for her name to be globally recognized,” Mr. Godfred Bukari, the JHS Headteacher said.
“We are thankful for this gesture and this goes to confirm that she was raised well and given quality education by her parents; therefore, parents here must endeavour to raise their children well too.
“And to those of the girls who received the items, this is tell you that you have no excuse to not come to school but to encourage you to learn and become bigger than us in the future,” Madam Nadiatu Adams, the Primary/KG Headteacher said.
The birthday celebration was marked with lots of excitement amidst drumming and dancing as the chiefs and queenmothers of the Kaluri community were in attendance.
Preceding the cutting of the birthday cake were mouthwatering poetry recitals by girls of the the Kaluri Junior High School covering various themes of girls and women empowerment, menstrual hygiene, and education.
Annually, Maria Johana Yuorpor, who has mentored several young people in Ghana and beyond, marks her birthday with a social impact activity ranging from donations, mentorship and skills trainings, and business coaching.
This year’s version, donation to school children, was by Beautiful Smiles Project and Mara Foods with support from Khad-san Africa and Naada Jinapor Foundation.