Promote the empowerment and development of youth, encouraging them to wake their entrepreneurial, creative and innovative spirit, and to take their physical and intellectual capacities to work in partnership with community based organizations and their leaders.
May 4, 2009

2009 New Scholarships, New House, New Challenges

The scholarship receipients from both years with Maria Mutola.
The scholarship receipients from both years with Maria Mutola.

2009 appears to be a year of big challenges for “Mais Escola Para Mim” project. After only one year of implementation the project is making noticeable progresses in the community of Magude. We received 20 more girls from the towns of Mahele (1), Panjane (1), Manjangua (1), Marrule (2), Motaze (5), Bobe (5), Nwambyana (3) and Mapulanguene (3) all of them in Magude. These girls were accommodated in the secondary school dormitories in Magude for a while. During three months we were working hard to finish our dormitories. The Foundation finished the first house for Mais Escola pra Mim, a house that will accommodate 20 scholarship girls, providing them better living conditions, with more space and better conditions of hygiene and safety. We can proudly say that the program is achieving positive results since the grades of the girls is above average, community involvement tends to improve, and the works are underway to complete the second house to receive 20 more girls. The Foundation has two local coordinators, one for each group of 20 girls and we have developed courses that help to lead the fellows to learn techniques for survival within their communities to ensure their rights.

The Foundation emphasizes that the year 2009 means more coverage for the program, involving diversity in the origin of the girls. The girls come from 8 locations now. Furthermore, we recognize that we have faced several constraints to achieve the desired results. Due to the limited involvement of family members in the student life of girls, 3 fellows gave up the program and returned to their homes for lack of motivation. It is also constraint the delay in delivery of the houses; it has created limitations in the quality of life of scholarship recipients and therefore affected their quality of life.

Milca, last year
Milca, last year's top student, reads a poem with media present.
The completed house (left) and to be completed (right).
The completed house (left) and to be completed (right).
Dec 19, 2008

First year of "More School for Me" completed

End of the year banquet in October 2008.
End of the year banquet in October 2008.

Year 1 of Mais Escola Para Mim (MEpM) is now complete and the Lurdes Mutola Foundation is proud to say that its dormitory immersion model for improving the academic performance of rural Mozambican girls works, pure and simple. Once acclimated to the new living conditions, our inaugural group of 18 scholarship recipients grew both as students and as young women. Not only did they all pass the 8th grade, but year-end grades demonstrated that they outperformed their peers at the Magude Secondary School on average in every discipline. They grew physically with a steady, healthy diet. They matured psychologically in a surrogate home that fosters sorority and self-confidence. After only a year of hard work, it’s not too much to say that they’ve started to set the groundwork of their personal dreams and, in some remarkable cases, bring entire villages into development. And so LMF has decided to expand the program. Immediately after the girls went home for summer holidays at the end of October, the Foundation began constructing a new dormitory complex that will provide us with a facility that can comfortably house forty scholarship recipients and two live-in coordinators. All 18 girls that are now ready for 9th grade completed re-initiation applications alongside grateful and supportive parents and will be returning in 2009 to work with head social worker Marianna Mario Manhique. Joining them will be a new group of 20 8th graders from the most rural villages in Magude District in the Maputo province. On December 10th and 11th a team of LMF employees, accompanied by local school officials who could vouch for MEpM’s effectiveness, traveled the Mozambican back roads to Panjane, Mahele, Mapinlanguene, Manjane, Nwambyana, Motaze, and Marule in an attempt to reach out to those aspiring young women the greatest logistical and economic needs. In Mahele we recruited the first girl in the community’s history to pass 7th grade. In Mapinlanguene, we found a precocious 12 year old named Velosa with reading and writing abilities equal to children many years her senior. In Motaze, where several members of the 2008 class live, we entered a classroom full of interested families eager to have their daughters apply. Of course, such promising success does not mean that there aren’t areas of MEpM in which the Foundation can improve. In Year 2 we hope to provide tutoring and additional materials that will further increase academic performance, especially in math and the sciences. The bigger group will also create greater logistical challenges, and we hope to find ways to make the dormitory complex less reliant on the LMF office in Maputo and more integrated into the Magude community. We would also like to include a fuller slate of special weekend activities. It’s exciting to see this project and these girls grow. Please check back with our Global Giving page for future, more regular updates.

One of the new MEpM dormitories in December 2008.
One of the new MEpM dormitories in December 2008.
Velosa Joao Cossa filling out her 2009 MEpM application in Mapul
Velosa Joao Cossa filling out her 2009 MEpM application in Mapul


Apr 25, 2008

First Trimester Update

The girls just finished their first trimester at the Secondary School of Magude. I have good news to report: the girl's average grades were higher than the class averages in every class! This is a significant achievement for the girls, especially those from Motaze, as the farther primary schools are away from Magude town, the less rigor they typically have due to a shortage of teachers in those areas.

The girls' backgrounds gave them a significant disadvantage over other students: difficulty with Portuguese. Back in their hometowns, Portuguese is used very little in everyday life and taught at a slow pace at school. When the girls first came to Magude, they faced the challenge of improving their Portuguese and using it both inside and outside the classrooms. But, through hard work and by working together, the girls have overcome this challenge! Their grades in Portuguese are significantly above the class average.

I do have a bit of sad news to report: two of the 20 girls have left the program. The brothers of one of the girls demanded that she stop school and come and live back home. The other came to the program feeling ill, and left for home shortly after.

This highlights the difficulty we face in our selection process: we come across girls who are extremely eager to continue studying whose families are not fully supportive of this and may change their minds. Other girls may have a great desire to continue school but may not be able to due to health conditions present before starting the program.

The experience has given us much information to fine-tune our selection process for the coming year. Age has been a significant factor in students' success: those 14 and under have performed significantly better overall than those who are 15. Also, in order to find the girls who are both most in need of the scholarship and who are most likely to be able to complete the program, we plan to add a family interview component as well as several additional health questions to next year's interview process.

The rest of the girls are well and are enjoying living, working, and studying together. I recently sat down with each of them one on one, and almost every one of them expressed admiration for their activities teacher and role model, Mariana Manhiqui. I was surprised that the girls had no complaints other than one of the lights in the living room had fused.

The girls have started their second semester this week after two weeks vacation at home with their families. I'm looking forward to seeing them tomorrow and hearing about their time at home.

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