Dr. Viola M. Vaughn (Founder of WHEPSA)
“When you educate a girl, you educate her entire family” – A solicitous reminder by Dr. Viola Vaughn whose determined vision soon developed into a precedent movement to advocate girls education in West Africa.
After moving to the Senegal in 2001 from Detroit, Michigan with an intention to retire, what Vaughn refers to as her true calling in life momentarily crystalized into a self-sufficient entrepreneurial and education project known as 10,000 Girls.
Mame Gueda, the inspiration behind the project’s mission, was one of thousands of young Senegalese women who struggle to pursue basic education in a country where female secondary school enrolment ratio is a mere 22% (UNICEF, 2009).
Vaughn’s initial assistance to Mame Geuda with her school work grew into an initiative that currently aims to support ten thousand girls who have missed the opportunity to join school due to cultural and economic reasons.
The program consists of two interdependent components; education and entrepreneurship, and has been growing confidently with around 2,567 registrations of girls aged between 10 and 24 in the academic year of 2009-2010.
Dr. Viola M. Vaughn is founder and current Executive Director of the Women’s Health Education and Prevention Strategies Alliance (WHEPSA). She received the CNN Heroes award in 2008 and the Distinguished Alumni Award from Columbia University Teacher’s College in 2010.