Dear Amazing Supporters,
I'm sure by now you've heard about the world's deadliest Ebola outbreak effecting Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea. When President Sirleaf recommended on July 30th that schools close, we had to follow suite for the safety of our girls, staff, and community. On July 31st, we had our last day of summer school for the girls.
On that day, we gave care packages to the girls that included workbook pages to keep them busy and learning, medicine for fever and bacterial illnesses, Ebola awareness posters, health care referral forms, oral rehydration solutions, chlorine, soap, and rice. All students and staff also attended an awareness class led by doctors and staff from UNICEF, the IRC, and Ministry of Health. While the school is closed, all expat staff members are being relocated to the US. We have been monitoring the situation on the ground through ongoing contact with NGOs, government ministries, and our local staff. To date, we've had no reported cases of Ebola related illness in students or staff.
On Friday August 22nd, our founder Katie Meyler arrived in Liberia to help the West Point community, where the majority of our girls live. You can follow her journey at http://racingheartblog.tumblr.com/.
Thank you for your continued support. We hope to reopen school as soon as it's safe for our girls. Until then, we will keep fighting for a better, faster, more organized response to the outbreak, both in West Point and across Liberia. Please direct any questions, comments, or words of support to firstname.lastname@example.org.
In this together,
Emily & the MTM Team
Dear MTM Family,
Thank you for supporting our programs in Liberia. We're excited to give you this update from the ground.
To better serve our girls and the community they live in, More Than Me organized and hosted the inaugural meeting of the West Point Working Group last month to help coordinate organizations’ services in West Point and better understand how we can work together to achieve common goals in the community.
Our goal was for the working group to become a platform for inquiry, collaboration, and partnerships, and we’re happy to say that this first meeting did just that! Twenty six people attended representing more than 15 organizations working in West Point. The West Point Commissioner, Honorable Miatta Flowers, also joined us!
There was so much passion and energy in the room: this was the first time that all of these organizations had come together, LOOKED at each other, and heard the work each other does. Attendees kept interjecting because they felt the same emotions or faced the same challenges as their peers. People were excited and yelling and debating and valuing the lives of people in West Point.
Michelle, our Director of Programs, couldn’t believe the group’s immediate success:
“It was beyond beautiful...this thing will have a life of its own, and that was our greatest goal, to just spark the conversation and collaboration. My favorite moment was that people started showing up 45 minutes early. By 1:05 everyone was in the room. THIS NEVER HAPPENS [in Liberia]. And we all noticed it. It's just a clear sign that we have all felt this same way...alone in our work, and wanting to ask questions, share concerns, and collaborate with others.”
MTM met mentors and partners who can help us achieve the most important outcomes for our students. And we are confident that the group will continue to collaborate, not only at monthly meetings, but also on a daily basis in West Point, working side-by-side to improve the lives of its inhabitants.
We are motivated by the energy from the community. When our students graduate from the More Than Me Academy, they will be able to make choices for their future. And that’s HUGE.
Thank you for your continued support. We have one month left of school and are excited that the last day of school, June 25th, is also a Microsoft Bonus Day, with donations matched at 100%! Stay tuned for how you can get involved.
For the girls,
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,
In the midst of another busy holiday season, we wanted to take some time to reflect on this life-changing year for our students and our organization. Without you, the More Than Me Academy would still be a dream rather than a reality.
The More Than Me Academy has been successfully educating 123 girls for half a school year. Aside from the Academy being tuition-free, we also provide two meals per day, health care, access to a computer lab, and a wide array of after school programs - ensuring that our girls are safe and off the streets for as much of the day as possible. Our dream is for every girl to have the power to decide what comes next in her life, whether that means pursuing higher education, learning a trade, starting a business, or starting a family.
Bottom line? We've seen amazing progress in each girl's life because of your generosity, but we still have a long way to go. Now's the time to show the world just how important the issue of girls education is.
Today, we are taking a stand. Our entire team (that includes you) is commited to making sure that no girl should have to self her body just to buy clean water. Will you take a stand?
TODAY ONLY, Microsoft is matching donations up to $1000 at 100%. That means you can DOUBLE your impact: $100 = $200! Share this project page with your community or make a donation today. Matching funds run out quickly, so now's the time to take action!
For a better world,
Emily and the More Than Me Team
P.S. For more regular updates, like us on Facebook!
We are excited to tell you that the More Than Me Academy opens on September 7th! We can't wait for this new adventure. The opening has come at a crucial time, as the BBC recently reported that out of 25,000 high school graduates taking the entrance exam to the University of Liberia, 100% failed. You read that right. 25,000 out of 25,000. You don’t need to be a statistics genius to know that something is desperately wrong with the education system here.
And we’re ready to take on this challenge.
One of the most important things we did to prepare for the school opening was doing a full baseline assessment of our girls, showing us strengths, needs, and grade levels. On August 17th, we gave the first assessment to our girls. This meant a lot of math and reading on a Saturday. Luckily, the girls love tests (weird, but true)!
Because of our high standards, we were expecting to do some remediation. However, the results were more surprising than we expected: none of our girls are at grade level, and many do not have skills as basic as phonemic awareness and algebraic thinking.
We’re taking an innovative approach to bring the girls up to speed as much as possible, via an intensive math and literacy intervention. This curriculum will be accompanied by the beautiful new building, international and Liberian co-teachers in every classroom, a cutting-edge aquaponics garden (thanks, Sustainability without Borders!), health and nutrition classes, an extensive after-school program, one-on-one tutoring, access to a computer lab, and so much more!
THIS WEEK ONLY, a generous supporter has donated $5,000 and challenged us to match it before the school opens! We are collecting donations through our More Than Me Girls Academy project on GlobalGiving. Help these girls have the amazing school they deserve!
Thank you for your continued support. Our girls benefit every day because you decided to live for more than just yourself. For more updates, check out our facebook page.
Everything for the girls,
The More Than Me Team
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