I first noticed Gertride, an albino girl selected to be in our scholarship program, in a video produced by AMCAV early in our project (this portion not yet translated). Albinos in eastern DR Congo are greatly stigmatized and marginalized, often unloved by their parents. I could tell how shamed Gertride was because she hid her head on her knees during the filming of the video, never looking up. But thanks to the social integration process of AMCAV and school officials, recent photos of Gertride shows her smiling and looking confidently at the camera, including one with AMCAV director Bernadette. I am so proud of her.
Another girl brought to my attention lately is a 9-year-old girl named Happiness. She is missing some fingers but appears to be proud as she holds her new pens and pencils from a fully funded GlobalGiving microproject. This is likely a birth defect called Symbrachydactyly, a condition in which a child is born with small or missing fingers or a missing hand, usually only on one side, as is the case with Happiness. I am sorry that medical options for improving her condition are not available to her.
Continued thanks to all for your continued support of this project.
When I first noticed Claudine in a photo, there was a problem. Older than most but attending school for the first time thanks to our program, Claudine had been given a blouse that was too tight for her (Photo 1). "Get that girl a new blouse, please!" I pleaded. AMCAV used their own funds to purchase a new one for her and sent me a photo of her wearing it (Photo 2). In both photos, Claudine looked like she could use a boost of confidence, and I hoped for the best for her. Indeed, Claudine excelled in her studies. At the end-of-school-year exams, Claudine scored so high that the school authorities determined she should be moved from 5th grade primary to 7th grade secondary! And so, as one of the 150 kids this program supports, Claudine became the first AMCAV student to attend the local secondary school in Rwenena. She continues to excel in her studies. In the third photo here, Claudine returned to the primary school to visit friends and check in with AMCAV's director, Bernadette Ntumba. What a striking transformation from the year before! Claudine's mother is lucky enough to have a parcel of land provided as one of AMCAV's income generating projects, and when she saw Bernadette for the first time since Claudine began secondary school, she thanked her profusely with a simple but poignant gift: a basket of fresh green beans! We continue to be grateful for all the support you have provided to enable not only Claudine's education but also that of our other 149 kids. We hope you will consider a(nother) donation to keep this program going strong and to continue to affirm the self-worth, grow the self-confidence, and of course provide essential education for these kids. Thank you!
Thanks to an in-kind gift of one supporter, three cameras with limited video capability have been gratefully received by each of our three schools. The distances between Bernadette and the 3 schools are significant, with government security checkpoints along the way. Now that schools have their own cameras (giving Bernadette the cards at regular intervals so she can send the photos electronically), we’re hoping to post more frequent project reports for supporters like you.
Camera Training: Stateside, Annette made a series of instructional videos (in French - thanks, Laurence!) on each of the cameras for the schools to see and learn from; Bernadette supplemented the training in person upon delivery. Officials, teachers, and of course kids are all excited about this gift. Check out the photos posted here of delivery and training day.
Donations are running on the low side so we're hoping to get a boost from you. I am removing supplemental materials from the donation choices and filling them in only with tuition fees, which is our essential need. It would be great if you could remember our project in your holiday giving (remember the Tribute option for gifts!) and pass along our need to those in your social circles.
I'd also like to announce that we have a new related micro project page here on Global Giving which I hope will be up and running by the time this report is posted: search "Fund Writers at Schools in DR Congo" (#12473), which provides pens and pencil boxes to each of our students. Donations for tuition remains our first priority, however.
We'd like to take this opportunity to thank all our supporters for caring about these Congo kids. We wish you all a joyous holiday season and a prosperous, happy, and healthy 2013.
The first year of this program is now complete and the numbers are in! The heads of our 3 schools, including the director of the Primary School of Vijana de Luberizi, shown here with AMCAV director Bernadette Ntumba, have worked hard to compile the following data. Out of 150, the total number of students advancing to the next grade numbers 127, with 67 girls and 60 boys excelling to pass the end-of-year exam and 23 needing to repeat last year’s grade. Global education experts consulted agree that 15% is an amazing rate in this region and in these circumstances, given that the children in our program are older and had never attended school before. School officials are especially astounded at the progress of the girls. In rural areas of eastern DRC, 60% of girls do not have access to education following the traditional customs that are more likely to provide access only to boys. Our program has rare support from the parent community where ordinarily there would be none. Parents express joy that Global Giving donors have made their children’s education possible. They, along with the students, administrators, and teachers, fervently wish to see continued financial support. Students are grateful for the privilege of attending school. The program puts them on unprecedented equal footing with other children attending school. The school authorities (directors and teachers) thank Global Giving and its donors, through AMCAV, for supporting students whose families cannot afford to pay school fees. Finally, local authorities and members of the community have promised to educate parents to send their children to school without distinction as to gender. The full report is available here under “Additional Documentation.”
The second and last piece, spoken by Vive, or Vivian, is entitled "My Village."
My co-project leader, Bernadette, has been in close contact with the heads of our 3 schools. The principal at the Rwenena school reports of the GlobalGiving supported girls, "It has been a very long time since girls have had good grades like boys and are well prepared to advance to the next level." The other 2 schools have noted similar progress.
Based on classroom performance alone, many of the girls are already eligible for advancement to the next level. In addition, we are eagerly awaiting test scores, which should be available soon, to determine how many of our other students can advance.
All 3 heads of school are astounded by the progress and implore the donors of GlobalGiving to continue to support them. They, the students, the kids' parents, and AMCAV are all very grateful.
Project Reports on GlobalGiving are posted directly to globalgiving.org by Project Leaders as they are completed, generally every 3-4 months. To protect the integrity of these documents, GlobalGiving does not alter them; therefore you may find some language or formatting issues.
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Congo, Democratic Republic of the
Congo, Democratic Republic of the