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Sidonia Evasio is 19 years-old and lives in the South Sudan. She hails from Western Equatoria State, a largely agricultural region, which, like the rest of country, faces many challenges following the country’s independence in 2011.

As a proud student at Namaiku Primary School, she was hard working and studious. Her parents were very supportive of her education and worked hard to ensure she had everything she needed for her studies.

Sidonia dreamed of a bright future and knew staying in school would provide her the tools to make her goals a reality. This made it all the more devastating when, in 2013, she found out she was pregnant. Her boyfriend refused to help and her parents disowned her. All alone, with a new baby to take care of and no support, Sidonia had little choice but to drop out of school.

In 2014, IIRR provided a local community-based organization, Community Peace Building and Protection Association (COPEBA), with advocacy and facilitation skills to support girls’ education. IIRR trained them in advocacy and facilitation skills to support girls’ education in the area. COPEBA formed an elders’ forum in Sidonia’s village, Namaiku, to support girls and young mothers who drop out of school. When the forum learned about Sidonia’s situation they met with her parents and discussed the importance of her going back to school and finishing her education. After numerous conversations, Sidonia’s parents finally agreed she should re-enroll in school, and her mother even offered to help take care of her baby while Sidonia was in class.

Since that meeting, Sidonia has been thriving and is currently waiting to sit for her national examination that will qualify her for joining secondary school. She is a role model to other young mothers also working to stay in school, and has become an advocate to prevent teen pregnancy in her community. She also joined the Girls for Girls club that IIRR has organized at her school as a champion for girls’ education.

Am very thankful to IIRR and COPEBA. They gave me a chance to go back to school. I believe with education I will be a better woman in the society and my dream is to serve the people of Western Equatorial as a political representative in the state government.