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The Path of Gloria: Between Combat, Filial Love and the Quest for Emancipation

Updated: Nov 27, 2023

by Sr. Marie Sosthène Sévérine AKAKP

Gloria comes from a family and is the eldest of several brothers and sisters. She started boarding school in 2014, in sixth form with the sisters of Providence Saint Gaëtan, part of the Africa network of the World Women's Observatory, which aim is to root out discrimination and violence against women. Seeing that her family situation would not allow her to continue her studies, the sisters took her in. In the ninth grade, after obtaining her BEPC diploma, she was promised in marriage by her father, in spite of herself. Her father is violent, alcoholic, sometimes dishonest and neglectful of his wife and children. As a result of the peaceful struggle between the sisters and Gloria's father, and their regular contact with her, the sisters discovered the reasons for her desire to give up her studies. From what she said, the sisters understood that she would like this marriage out of love for her father, whom she loves so much despite his violent nature and his refusal to let Gloria continue at school. Gloria slowly regained her self-confidence by continuing her studies. She herself says: "I'm here at the boarding school, which means that I'm going to school for my personal development and to have a better future. And it's my little sister who feeds me, who does everything for me," because she's already married. She has a field and her husband takes good care of her. I'm the big sister, and although she has to look after me. This idea of marriage grew inside her and even prevented her from studying. For her, and according to the mentality of most young girls in her environment, it is through marriage that a woman can become happy. So, when she reached her final year of High School, she decided not to continue at school. Gloria's individual guidance was not easy because of this conviction. For this reason, she was invited to spend a few days of her holidays in community with the sisters, to avoid meeting the man to whom she had been promised.

The sisters take a special interest in Gloria, so that she can complete her A-levels with a view to professional training and independence. Gloria is now continuing her studies under the maternal care of the sisters and she has been able to sit the baccalaureate exams this year. The sisters are praying day and night for her success. She is the first girl in her village to pass the BAC.

Geographical presentation

Kandi is a town in the north of Benin, in the Alibori department. It is bordered to the north by Malanville (105 km), to the south by Gogonou (35 km), to the east by Segbana (100 km) and to the west by Banikoura (70 km). The town is a crossroads for people from Burkina Faso, Niger, Togo and Nigeria. The main activities are livestock rearing, agriculture and trade. Most of the villages have little infrastructure.

The mission of the Sisters of Providence in Kandi

The Institute of the Sisters of Providence of Saint Gaëtan Thiene, founded in Udine by Father Saint Louis SCROSOPPI on 1er February 1837, has been working in the field of health and education since its humble beginnings. Present in the diocese of Kandi since 2005, the sisters work on behalf of young girls in difficult situations and women in distress. A literacy centre and a boarding school have been set up for this purpose. Girls from the far-flung villages of Kandi find a suitable environment in which to study. Each year, we take in between 30 and 35 girls. They are monitored at all levels, including :

  • Educational support (it is difficult for girls to progress normally at school, as they are promised in marriage at a very early age).

  • Social support (taking care of some girls whose parents do not have enough money for their studies).

  • Food needs.

  • Health care.

  • Accompanying their respective parents.

They are kept abreast of current affairs through talks and debates:

  • The importance of school in a young girl's life.

  • Depigmentation and its consequences.

  • Early marriage.

  • Knowing how to live and knowing how to be.

The sisters are present in the villages alongside the parents, motivating them to send their girls to school. This implies an investment in school follow-up. The girls arrive at the boarding school without the necessary documents for their studies. This is often the responsibility of the sisters, to name but a few.


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