What a wonderful month to celebrate the young girls who will grow into the fine women of Liberia! (In some countries, International 'Day' of the Woman (March 8th) spans the entire month of March. We think that's pretty cool.)
The country of Liberia has endured both joy and great sorrow in its history. In 1824, Liberia (the free land) was established and the majority of the newly arrived inhabitants were recently freed slaves coming from the US. Over time, Liberia saw many ups and downs, endured many conflicts and ultimately suffered the devastation of a horrible civil war that lasted from 1989 until 2003. During this civil war, an entire generation lost their right to live like normal people. They simply had no choice.
The manager of our in-country partner organization, Liberia Now, Pastor Emmanuel Gyamfi, recounted his memory of that time. "In 1989 the Liberian Civil War began. We thought that it wasn’t going to last long. We thought it would end soon. But we were very wrong. The war lasted longer than any of us thought possible. During this time we were robbed of everything we ever had, in terms of our “material possessions”. As the war became more terrifying, living in our community was no longer safe so we had to leave. I saw friends die. Anyone could die at any moment. Even dogs had more value than humans at that time. I had never experienced something so terrible."
Tragically, a 2005 study found that girls were entering the sex trade in order to pay for their education. In the report by IRIN African, one school's headmaster said, "This is very strange in our school system. Since their lovers or boyfriends pay their fees, they are under an... obligation to stay with that boyfriend or lover at night which may divert their attention from reviewing their lessons." (see article here)
In the same study, it is reported that the organization Save the Children notes that school fees are the number one barrier that girls face when seeking education. That's where you and Girls Ed step in to make the biggest difference in a girl's life - helping her gain access to education.
But Liberia is full of surprises and wonder. In a country so devastated by war and hatred, a woman - Ellen Johnson Sirleaf - was elected president in 2005. She was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2011, along with Leymah Gbowee for their non-violent struggle to ensure the rights of women in the peace-building process in Liberia.
Ah, the magical powers of women. Which of our girls will grow up to be the strong leaders, the agents of change, the beacons of hope that guide Liberia into a brighter future!? Let's continue to suppor them and find out.
Thank you so much for your support thus far. Please continue to support us in our efforts because none of this can happen without you. Share our work with friends, bring us up in conversation, contribute any amount you can, and click the share buttons below to let others know how they can join us in this initiative.
Rai FarrellyMember, Board of Directors, Girls Ed
Dear Girls Ed Supporters,
We hope this report finds you enjoying the beginning to this holiday season! We wish you a very happy holidays - from the Girls Ed team and the wonderful girls you support.
As promised, here is some information about some of the girls in our scholarship program. For us, one of the most exciting parts about supporting girls education is knowing the dreams and goals of the girls, then watching those dreams begin to be realized as the girls are empowered through education. We can't wait to check in with them 5 and 10 years after high school to see what they have accomplished!
One of our bright young girls is Mai. She is 13 years old and attends Virginia First Assembly of God Mission Junior High School as a 9th grader. Her favorite subjects include math, science, and geography. She hopes to go to college to become a doctor.
Another of the girls is Precious. She is 19 and is currently in the 11th grade at Diana E. Davies School. Her favorite subject? Biology. No wonder she wants to become a doctor!
And introducing Comfort. She is 15 and is a 9th grader at St. Mary Catholic School. Her favorite subjects are civics, history, and science. She plans on going to school to become a doctor.
Can you imagine the change that will sweep over Liberia if all three of these girls pursue their dreams to enter the world of medicine!
We're not the only ones that know girls can break into the Science, Technolology, Engineering and Math (STEM) world, in Liberia and elsewhere. We're pretty sure this cute remake of the Beastie Boys classic, Girls, could be a theme song for our girls, too!
Thank you so much to all of you! We hope you'll continue to support our work in Liberia. Here are a few ways you can do so:
Thank you for all your support!!
The Girls Education International Team and all the Girls
We are happy to report that the girls are all doing well and continuing to diligently pursue their education. The semester will finish in July so we will be able to report the girls' progress at that time.
The CEO of our in-country affiliate, Liberia Now, recently returned from a visit and was able to meet with all of the girls as well as our nursing student Veronica. We will have the interview transcripts to share with you later this summer. Along with meeting with current students, the staff of Liberia Now also collected and reviewed applications for new students who will begin their studies with our scholarship assistance next semester. Girls Ed will continue to support the ten girls as they move into the next level, while adding five more scholarship recipients, all thanks to your help.
We appreciate your ongoing support, and hope to continue to expand our reach in Liberia as the nation works to recover and gain strength through efforts such as ours, empowering its citizens to improve their futures.
Dear Girls Ed Liberia Project Supporters,
We have received report cards for the first semester for our high school students and are very pleased to report that they are doing very well, all of them receiving solid marks of no less than a B. One of the girls, Patience, has actually been ranked the top in her class!
We are also happy to report that Veronica continues to meet her requirements at nursing school and we anticipate Girls Ed will see our first nurse come from the program over these next couple years!
The successes of these girls have been made possible through your generosity. We truly appreciate your support and want to share with you an opportunity to see your contributions expanded! On March 13, 2013, Global Giving will match all contributions of up to $1000 at 30% until they have exhausted their $50,000 fund. If you were planning to donate this would be a fantastic time!
Dear Educate Liberian Girls Supporters,
We are excited to introduce you to the 10 girls that your funding will assist in completing their secondary school education! Forty-five girls applied for our scholarship and it was a tough decision, as well as sad, to be forced to narrow our selection to 10, but a scholarship committee composed of members of the community, along with our representative, thoroughly reviewed each application and chose those girls who demonstrated the greatest need as well as potential. These girls are all from the Lower Virginia area on the outskirts of Monrovia.
On the day that the 10 girls were asked to come to the community center to receive their scholarship, many of the additional 35 applicants also came. They and their parents asked that we take to our American donors the message that they too would very much appreciate the opportunity to complete their studies. We have kept the applications for these girils and if we are able to raise additional funding through your assistance, beyond the needs of our current scholarship recipients, we will definitely reach out to them.
During this last visit to Liberia to select the scholarship recipients, a two-week training was also conducted by Liberia Now for teachers and principals to improve upon the level and consistency of education in the schools where our scholarship recipients will be studying. Over 80 teachers and principals from the surrounding villages attended!
It is through your continued support that we are able to provide the tools to bring a solid education to girls in Liberia and the hopes for their future and that of their communities that come with their education. We, at Girls Ed and on behalf of our scholarship recipients, thank you for your help!
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Co-Founder, Project Wezesha; Treasurer, Girls Education International