More Than Me

The More Than Me Academy is on a mission to make sure education and opportunity, not exploitation and poverty, define the lives of the most vulnerable girls from the West Point Slum of Liberia. When she graduates, she will decide what comes next for her life.
Mar 3, 2014

Honoring B

In June 2013, we wrote a report called Beatrice's Story. We wanted to update you on that story.

At the end of November 2013, Beatrice became very ill. She had been sick for a while, but when she went to the hospital in September, the doctor said it was an enlarged heart and told her not to eat Liberian pepper or salt. In November, her whole body became swollen and when our Director of Programs, Michelle, was made aware of the situation, she took B to the hospital immediately.

B was in the hospital for 10 days. On Monday, December 2nd, she was diagnosed with an enlarged heart, ascariasis worms in her stomach and lungs, and severely infected ulcerations on her legs. B passed away on Tuesday, December 3rd. Here is part of her story from Michelle:

The process was not miraculous or beautiful- it was full of pain, frustration, confusion and struggle. It was a lot of waiting...waiting for a diagnosis, waiting for a nurse to come, waiting to know what her chances of surviving were. 

But those are not the moments that stick out in my mind. What sticks out in my mind is that Beatrice fought. This 13-year-old girl looked death and pain in the eyes and she never flinched. She let it sit there, but didn’t allow it to make her desperate. She had every right to feel like a victim and give up, but she NEVER, not for one moment, acted that way. 

My favorite moment with B is that we had this campaign at the time for Giving Tuesday- "I'm on the street so that she doesn't have to be." I used to sit with B during the day and work from her hospital room. One day I was showing her our staff's profile pictures on Facebook holding the sign. She was so intrigued by the different locations people chose and the concept behind the campaign. When I walked away with my laptop, she told me that she wanted to take a picture with the sign. I laughed and said that we were in the hospital not on the street.

And then she said something that I will never forget, she said something so wise. This 13-year-old girl said, "I'm also fighting Michelle. I'm fighting so that no other student, no other girl in Liberia has to be in this hospital, has to be in my condition." She's so young but she GETS IT. She gets the whole point of More Than Me. That our lives are so much bigger than ourselves. B was staring death in the face and yet still fighting for every other girl in our program and in Liberia. I thought it was too much for her to even just fight for herself, for most people I think that would have been too much. But B is remarkable, B is extraordinary, B is an inspiration to us all. She didn't want her pain, her suffering to go to waste. She got that the most powerful thing she could do in that moment was to fight for something bigger than herself.  

Her death shook our community, but we refuse to let her strength and spirit pass along with her.

This February we opened the “Be Your Best Self” Library in honor of Beatrice with support from the British Ambassador. And two weeks ago, we dewormed 124 students. It wasn’t beautiful watching our students struggling to pass the worms, but with every worm-free stomach comes the possibility of a healthier, longer life. We felt Beatrice’s spirit smiling down on us seeing that we are doing everything in our power to continue her fight that no student will have to lie in that hospital bed.

To keep our programs growing deeper, we're asking you to make a recurring donation to More Than Me. Right now, Microsoft is matching new recurring donations for the first 3 months, up to $500 per donor! Please consider sustaining our programs and improving our girls' lives in this way. How? When you click the donate button, select "monthly" under Frequency.

Thank you from the bottom of our hearts. We think of B often and strive to honor her life every day.

For a brighter future,

Emily & the MTM Team

The "Be Your Best Self" Library!
The "Be Your Best Self" Library!

Links:

Mar 3, 2014

A Holistic Approach to Education

Fatu, our school cook, cares deeply for the girls
Fatu, our school cook, cares deeply for the girls

Dear More Than Me Family,

THANK YOU for your continued investment in our students. At the MTM Academy, we take the wellness of our girls seriously. Delving deeper into the barriers that girls like Bendu and Dorkus face, we've widened our breadth of resources to meet our students' needs. We've expanded our feeding program. We've started a school clinic and hired a nurse, something that 97.3% of Liberian schools are lacking. Since November, we've dewormed 120 students, treated 38 cases of malaria, and referred 14 students to local clinic/hospitals for more intensive care.

Only 3.1% of schools in Liberia have a computer lab and we are one of them. Only 11% of schools have a library. We opened the "Be Your Best Self" Library this month with the help of the British Embassy.

Our social workers, co-teachers, school aids, and one-on-one tutors ensure that the girls receive an education tailored to their level. Visitng social work professors from Carlow University recently recommended More Than Me to the US Embassy as "the best organization protecting and preparing young women against human trafficking in regions like West Africa."

Again, we say Thank You. Investing in these girls' education will have long-lasting effects on their lives and on Liberia's future development. We're excited to announce that right now, Microsoft is matching new recurring donations 100% for the first 3 months, up to $500 per donor. That's up to $1500 in matching funds! Amplify your impact by making a new monthly donation to More Than Me to further sustain our programs and give our girls the best education possible!

With love for a brighter future,

Emily & the MTM Team

MTM
MTM's Social Work Department!
The "Be Your Best Self" Library
The "Be Your Best Self" Library
The Excellence Classroom
The Excellence Classroom
Mar 3, 2014

Patience's Story

Dear MTM Family,

Life in West Point is overwhelming at times. It's congested and lacks sanitation. There are no bathrooms. There's only one road in and out of the slum. There are no hospitals there. This is a story from Macintosh, our Program Coordinator:

On the evening of January 31, 2014, I was about to take a bath when some of the students came running to my house to tell me that Patience fell in to the fire.

I stopped whatever I was doing and rushed to Patience’s house, before getting to the house I met with some member of that community they told me that Patience was try to make food for the house that was how she fell into the fire. Within that time another person has taken her to my house, I rush back home and met this child with her face all burnt up. The family of this child knows that she had been ill with epilepsy for years, and this time she had stopped taking the medication for no reason. She had been doing the cooking for her family when she had an episode and fell into the fire.

I went to find a car to take her to the hospital. It was very difficult to find car at that hour. I managed to get a car that we used for that night and we paid the driver fifteen united states dollars to drive us to the JFK hospital.

Patience has now made one month in the JFK hospital, and she responding to treatment on a day-to-day basis. She can talk and eat, and is getting better every day.

I met Patience many years ago, she was selling bananas on the street. She's now one of our older students. She's very helpful and loving. She has epilepsy and during an episode fell into a fire stove. The photo below is her after one month of treatment; she looks so much better! We are beyond thankful that we have healthcare for the girls. Otherwise, she likely would have died. I wanted to tell you this story because YOUR DONATIONS MATTER. You are making a difference in Patience's life. Because of you, we are able to pay for Patience's treatment.

Every day, we continue to fight for the girls of West Point. This Saturday, March 8th, is International Women's Day. The Ministry of Gender chose to honor More Than Me - their focus is Mentoring for Transformation. We see our girls transforming into leaders every day. The girls are excited to take part in a day that celebrates women in Liberia. A day that celebrates perserverance and strength for girls like Patience.

Change is happening. We can feel it.

Will you make a lasting impact for more girls like Patience?

Microsoft is matching new recurring donations 100% for the first 3 months (up to $500 per donor). This is an amazing opportunity - recurring donations keep our projects growing, refining and expanding from month to month. Will you consider making a new monthly donation for these girls?

For Equality for Women and Healing for Patience,

Katie

Katie with Patience at the hospital
Katie with Patience at the hospital

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