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Africa's Daughters
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Africa's Daughters
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In Uganda, most girls never get to attend high school, and even fewer graduate. But attitudes are changing. This film follows two hard-working young female students, Hoctavia and Ruth, whose education is giving them hope for the future.
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Produced by AED.

Read more about the transformative power of girl's secondary education (PFD download).

Get more information on the Ambassadors Girls Scholarship Program (AGSP).

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Segment 1

TITLE
In Uganda, 16 of every 100 children go to high school. Seven are girls. Only three will graduate. This is the story of two girls beating the odds.
TITLE
Africa's Daughters
HOCTAVIA [Student]
My father was a polygamous man, so he had very many wives, and so he ended up having many children. When I was six months old, he was shot dead, and then, by that time, my mother had already gone. So she left me. So when my dad died, I had no one to take care of me. I came to realize that I was an orphan when I was in primary two, and it was second term. So, I really felt bad and I cried a lot. I almost stopped going to school because of that.
TITLE
Pallisa, Uganda. Hoctavia's birthplace
HOCTAVIA
When my father died, my grandfather took me up, but then he was too old, and so, Cecilia said, like, "Give me this baby. I think I can take care of her."
CECILIA [Hoctavia's aunt]
That is enough. Now, what you do, get the saucepans around. Mix. It is easier.
HOCTAVIA
Let me first give these small ones here. As they eat, I'll look for the saucepans. For the big ones.
CECILIA
I'm a mother, more than even her real mother. I used to tell her that I didn't want her to be a housewife, ordinary housewife. At least, she should be someone. She should get an education that will help her to be a lady who will be able to look after herself.
HOCTAVIA
When I was in the village, I didn't like doing work. The rest of the kids in the village could not go to school. They would stay at home, play the whole day. Sometimes, I would also dodge school, remain back at home, and play.
CECILIA
Do you remember, do you remember the time, the time you people bundled your clothes and put in the basket? Do you remember? And you were trying to take off.
HOCTAVIA
I remember that.
TITLE
Hoctavia is one of 31 children.
HOCTAVIA
Most of my sisters have not been educated. They dropped out of school due to certain circumstances: no money, sometimes pregnancies, and so on. So they don't have the money to do what they want. The men just beat them up. So I really don't like that kind of life for myself, and I feel, if I got the education, I can make it best with whatever I want to do in life.
TITLE
Naguru go Down. Kampala, Uganda
TITLE
Ruth, 17 years old
RUTH [Student]
Mommy usually tells us that, "There's a reason for you to go to school, because I want you in the future to be better people." We shouldn't go through the life that she has faced.
MARTHA [Ruth's Mother]
When you lose your husband, they don't grab, actually, the children. They grab the things, maybe the land, if the man had a plot, the house. It's just bad habits in the culture, because I think I'm entitled to something. I've always done so many petty, petty things. I've always made curtains and sold. I work for many hours. But one thing I know is my sewing machine gets us, for all their requirements, for all their medical attention, for all their dressing, for all the food.
RUTH
Looking after four of us is such a big challenge to her. The kind of work that she does not really make her be able to earn all the money that we would need for school. It's a burden. My dream is to be a neurosurgeon. Before my father actually passed away, I wanted to be a teacher. But then, the illness that my dad got really put that pressure on my heart that in the future, I should be a doctor to save so many people who had ... who would have fallen victims of what? Circumstance, and end up in death, just like my dad.
MARTHA
The children are still young, and I really still need to put more money on them for education. I've always instilled in them they should actually be better off than me to avoid the cases of not having it.

Segment 2

TITLE
Tororo Girls School. Tororo, Uganda
HELEN [Teacher, Hoctavia's cousin]
I come from a family of teachers, where both mum and dad are teachers, and they would tell us, "Our purpose of taking you to school is to see that you lead a better life than just the one that we are leading."
CECILIA
It's a good thing, actually. Think about hotel management.
HOCTAVIA
I've always thought about it.
HELEN
Hoctavia came to live with me when she was nine. I knew she would have also jumped out of school at an early age, just as her other stepsisters did. It comes from our traditional culture, our Ugandan societies. Your father thinks you should be the last to go to school because you are a girl. So, when they see themselves, they think they are not very, very important, and they will not realize much out of themselves.
HOCTAVIA
It's like there was no one to inspire me, but when my aunt took me, I saw a different life. People wake up in the morning, go to offices, smart and so on, so I said, "I think this is what I should also be." But secondary education is expensive to us here. After primary, I didn't have any hope of joining secondary and so on, but my aunt helped me. She told me, "Work very hard. If you work very hard, get eight aggregates [straight As], I'll take you to a secondary school, and I'll take you to Iganga S.S."
TITLE
Iganga Secondary School. Hoctavia's Boarding School
TEACHER
So, there are various views on the origin of AIDS in Uganda. In the early '80s, it spread from Congo and most especially the Katanga region to Uganda.
HOCTAVIA
When you educate a girl, it's almost like educating a whole nation. It's like you enlighten the brain. We come to realize that we are actually not nothing, as people think, that the girl child is nothing, but that's when you realize your ability. You come to know what you can really do. My combination is "HELD," that is history, economics, literature, and divinity. Those are the subjects I do. Charlotte Bronte's classic story of passionate and forbidden love has thrilled and horrified generations of readers. Looks to be interesting.
TEACHER
There will be no struggle. There will be no rebellion, because we already know that rebellion only breeds what?
CHILDREN
Revenge.
TEACHER
Was he right?
CHILDREN
Yes.
TEACHER
Will you continue?
HOCTAVIA
I like literature. It's my favorite. Literature almost is like news, but a different way of bringing it up. If you read "King Lear," it teaches about different characters we have in the society, their behavior. That's why I like it. It makes me think a lot. Helen struggled very hard to make me join this school. After that first term, she could not afford all the fees. I went back home, and I wrote an application. And, by good luck, I was picked ON, and I got the sponsor second term. I feel so good that there is someone to pay the fees, so it's up to me to utilize the opportunity and really work to my best.
MARTHA
There's been hardly no money coming in. It's expensive sending Ruth to school. Because, the money, like if it's about 500,000 [USD$300], it could be something that I make in about two and a half months. You really don't sleep. You find you're up early. As early as two you're up, and you stay awake trying to see what, what should I really do?
RUTH
I was basically worried, worrying from morning to sunset, how will I surely get to go to school?
MARTHA
There is this saying, one time I made up for myself. I said, "For the sake of these children to be better than what I am now, I just must work." Let's go and pick the long ruler, and, what, the sugar, and the Blue Band. Where are we going next?
RUTH
To go pick the juice.
MARTHA
The juice. And that is how much, 5,800 [USD$3.30]?
RUTH
I wanted to go to Ndejje Senior Secondary School, reason being they perform well. The sciences are very good.
GIRL
That cupboard is bad. You sleep there.
RUTH
If I didn't have the scholarship, I really don't know whether I would be in school. They want to sponsor you and uplift you, so that you can be somebody.
WILSON NSUBUGA [Deputy Headmaster, Ndejje Senior Secondary School]
This is a coeducational kind of school, and it is ranking among the first 20 schools in the country. We have about 1,206 students, and about 800 are boys, and about 400 are girls.
RUTH
People say when you do sciences, things are hard and all that, but I think when you put your heart into it, surely things can shift.
WILSON NSUBUGA
This school has been able to produce doctors. We have also been able to produce lawyers. We have produced teachers. And the good thing with this place is that the student who comes here and works hard automatically makes it.

Segment 3

TITLE
6 a.m. Study hall
SIGN
Dining Hall
TITLE
10 a.m.
SIGN
Science Laboratories and Classes
TITLE
1 p.m.
RUTH
Now we scientists have a lot to do. Yes, the scientists.
TITLE
4 p.m.
SIGN
Advanced Level Physical Chemistry
RUTH
You must be time conscious all the time. So I really have to struggle, and every time I think of, surely, I have to be a neurosurgeon, you get, actually, sometimes tired, because the day has been so hectic and long, but then, in your brain, there is something that tells, "You have to be this," so you increase the guts to read and all that.
TITLE
10 p.m.
NAOME MENYA [Headmistress, Iganga Secondary School]
About 50 percent finish secondary education. Because, in the African context, the girls will go off and get married. We want to sensitize every parent, whether rural or urban, to get the value of educating a girl child. Not to have the girl child as an asset, an economic asset in the home, but to be treated equally, like the counterpart of the boy child.
STEPHEN MUGABI [Mentor]
Do you really know your goal and target?
HOCTAVIA
I'd like to become an accountant, a business manager. Mr. Mugabi, he's my mentor, and I really like him a lot, because he's someone who is so caring. When I'm at school here, he calls me, guides me, on what I'm supposed to do, on what is expected of me.
STEPHEN MUGABI
One thing: if you want to be a person who is successful, you must be disciplined. And then, the other one is determination. Hoctavia is a person I came to know when she was just in S1 [eighth grade]. She was a little bit a timid person with a lot of problems. But, you know, as we have gone through the four years of secondary education, well, she's a person who can adjust very fast, a person who is ready to learn.
HOCTAVIA
It's really nice to be very many in the dormitory. People come with different stories, different ideas, from home, from class, from personal experience, so, when you meet together, you have a lot to talk about. This one tells you about the other place, tells you about this, tells you about their culture, dances for you the way they dance. I feel happy dancing, and to me, it is an exercise, because it's vigorous. At the same time, I enjoy it. I show my flexibility, so it's almost about joy. I feel inside me is only happiness.
NAOME MENYA
They need confidence-building, self-esteem, and also, of course, good discipline. You must be able to identify which is right and which is wrong, and how do I go about with the challenges in life.
TITLE
HIV/AIDS Play
HOCTAVIA
Just leave me alone. I don't feel like giving you water. I don't feel like giving you water. Please.
BOY
I'm on my knees.
NAOME MENYA
One way is to intensify counseling and guidance programs. Another one is sharing with their peer groups.
HOCTAVIA
You want my water?
BOY
You see, you're very beautiful. I've admired you.
HOCTAVIA
If you want my water, you see this book?
BOY
Yes. Yeah, yeah. It's a book I've seen. I've seen.
HOCTAVIA
You have seen? So, education first. Education first.
BOY
Okay, okay.
HOCTAVIA
Then a wedding ring.
BOY
A wedding ring, eh? A wedding ring?
HOCTAVIA
I'll give you my water then.
BOY
A wedding ring?
HOCTAVIA
Yes.
BOY
Okay, yeah,
HOCTAVIA
I've seen people die, my own cousins dying of AIDS, my own uncles. The disease is really terrible, so I feel I need to participate in the sensitization of other girls. So, it's like you're helping the nation. You're helping those who don't know.
NAOME MENYA
Students like Hoctavia, I would call them very lucky, because perhaps, if there had not been a good samaritan behind them, all that brain would have been wasted. We are quite grateful for these organizations that come in and really lend a hand. So, it has given them hope. It has given them hope.
HOCTAVIA
If I was home in Pallisa, right now I think I would be having something like three or four children. I would be somewhere in the garden, maybe digging. I'd just be doing household work. So that's why, at least, I keep myself in school and focused.
RUTH
When you educate a girl, you're bringing up better mothers in the future, and also, we can better help in the decision-making of the country. It should not only be the men to do that decision-making, but it should be for everybody.
MARTHA
We need to continuously tell them they have the potentials to make it. They are very brilliant children. So, I think it's important for parents to send girls to school. A mother who is educated works in any place, whether in a peace mission to Sudan. They will stand together with the men. They will be lawyers. They will be magistrates. Because I don't think whether there is anything which is less when you put a girl and a boy together. I think they are the same.
TITLE
This film is dedicated to Hoctavia and Ruth, and all the girls around the world who have big dreams and are determined to achieve them.
TITLE
Hoctavia and Ruth are still in school. They are on track to graduate in late 2008.
TITLE
Still, there are millions of girls who will never move beyond primary school.
TITLE
Studies show that societies reap many benefits when girls are educated at the high school level.
TITLE
They include healthier families, decreased infant mortality, greater civic participation, lower rates of HIV/AIDS, and less poverty.
TITLE
Filmed in Uganda with participants from the Ambassadors' Girls' Scholarship Program, a Presidential African Education Initiative.
TITLE
An AED Production
TITLE
[end credits]