It’s back to school time for the children at Marshall Direct Fund schools throughout Pakistan. While the children spent time with their families, the teachers were hard at work. MDF staff took part in professional development programs with the goal of learning how to better serve the students and provide support to one another. Over the Summer, our new Director instituted an array of new and improved processes that the staff and students have benefited from, including more regular meetings chaired by different staff on various subjects with the objective of sharing challenges and learning from each others’ experiences, increasing confidence and range of skills, fostering leadership and respect for diversity, and improving time management and creativity. We intend to conduct future teacher training on subjects that range from IT development, volunteerism, and human rights, and to facilitate more frequent exchange of ideas between teachers at the different MDF schools.
We are very proud of the 250 students that graduated to the next level last June. We look forward to seeing their smiling faces in class this month. This year we will be implementing the Global Kid Connect (GKC) program in January or February for a fourth year of connecting students on one side of the globe with another! This academic year, we will be partnering with Citizens Archive of Pakistan in order to reach more schools in Pakistan. Students who participate in GKC interact with their peers at sister schools in the U.S. via a classroom blog. On the blog, students exchange letters, pictures, drawings, cards, and collages all within a program that is designed to foster empathy and cultural exchange. The students at Pakistani schools had a lot to talk about last year. They got to go on their very first field trip ever - to a Museum followed by a park! We are so excited for these students to have the opportunity to take part in educational activities that provide a brighter future. We are also proud of the staff and our supporters that help make this possible.
Please know this project enables youth and their families to obtain credible education, critical thinking skills, and provides a safe place to learn and grow where they can also better respond to natural disasters and other challenges Pakistan faces in the future. Please help us generate awareness – Become a fan of our Facebook page, join us on Twitter, and share with your networks. If you would like to start a MDF Circle group in your community there are various one-time or re-occurring ideas and activities that we would be pleased to share. You can reach us at email@example.com or at +01(970)963-3150. Thank you so much for your continued support!
Last March, Executive Director Silbi Stainton made a surprise visit to MDF schools. Staff and students are always excited to see the Marshall Direct Fund U.S. staff who help make their access to education possible and a visit from the founder is even more exciting! Silbi was moved by the changes she saw in the older children who started several years ago who have now grown into capable, compassionate, and dedicated students. Silbi shared, “The children I once knew had grown into confident young men and young women. Instead of them looking up to meet my gaze, it was I looking up to them”. You can check out our Spring 2012 newsletter on our website to read more from Silbi.
Not only are the students showing the benefits of having consistent nutrition from lunches that our supporters (that’s you!) help to provide, they are also academically achieving at every level. Four Girls and four boys from Barakahu that took their central examinations passed with high scores! In addition, the field office staff and administrators continue to develop new tools and programs to ensure the children’s success. New policies and procedures have been adopted and implemented to refine best practices. One of the activities includes weekly meetings where teachers and staff share their experiences with their colleagues regarding lessons learned, challenges, and solutions. The Country Director says, “This exercise is helping teachers and staff gain confidence in communication…and is helping generate a sense of ownership, creativity, equity.”
Thank you so much for being an active member of our community. Please contact us with any questions or concerns or to share ideas. Want to learn more or connect? Visit our website at www.marshalldirectfund.org or become our fan on facebook.
Just as I now looked up to them, I came to learn that their own communities do the same. These young graduates are the pride and hope of their towns. - Silbi
We are starting to prepare for our third year of Global Kid Connect which we will implement between 100 students in the US and 100 students in Pakistan this March. Our first pilot year was between two classrooms and schools in the US and two in Pakistan. Last year we expanded to include three. This year we plan to incorporate four or five in each respective country. Through a blog, students post pictures of themselves and their family, upload drawings, videos and exchange questions and answers. It appears these kids are finding that they have much in common and are delighted to learn more about their counterparts in such a distant land. They explore what it means to be a leader, share their definitions of peace, compare their hopes and dreams and discuss topics related to family, geography, and culture. One girl and her sister in Pakistan were pulled from school because their father believed they were getting too old for studies (it is very common for youth in impoverished areas to attend a few years of school before helping their families in the home or by earning additional income). Despite the best efforts of the project manager, teacher and head mistress, the father was not convinced otherwise. It was not until the project manager shared a letter from his daughters pen pal in the US that he looked at the situation differently. You see, he didn’t realize that a young girl half way across the globe cared about his daughter and was proud of her achievements in school. This realization compelled him to change his mind and send his daughters back to one of the MDF schools where they now eagerly learn and look forward to connecting with their friends in America.
Please know this project is helping youth and their families to obtain credible education, critical thinking skills, and a safe place to learn and grow where they can also better respond to natural disasters in the future. Please help us generate awareness – Become a fan of our Facebook page, join us on Twitter, and share with your networks. If you would like to start a MDF Circle group in your community there are various one-time or re-occurring ideas and activities that we would be pleased to share. You can reach us at firstname.lastname@example.org or +01 (970) 963-3150 .
We’ve just had our first snow in Colorado. Our children wait hopefully in anticipation of school closures. To their disappointment, school was open as usual. The families in the Punjab region of Pakistan may be hoping for a different outcome. Pakistan has been bombarded with natural disasters that have severely hindered progress as the Pakistani government and everyday families struggle to build their economy and provide a bright future for the nation.
Pakistanis in the Punjab must contend with something much more severe than snowfall. An epidemic of dengue fever has broken out, with more than 4,000 cases in the region over the last two months. But life goes on, and for the children they hope for school to go on as well. Marshall Direct Fund has one school in the affected region. Families who are at risk were asked to stay home for at least 10 days. Our superb field team of teachers are making sure to educate using safe measures to limit risk of exposure, the spread of the disease, and care for the afflicted. We are grateful to our dedicated field staff, one of which has lost a family member to the disease. Any and all donations, monetary and otherwise help MDF to persist in the face of additional challenges.
Last month, Marshall Direct Fund was the proud recipient of $25,000 worth of equipment from IRD. The equipment includes desks, chairs, office supplies, and laptops. The materials are being used to support the schools and vocational centers of our partners.
Please know this project is helping youth and their families to obtain credible education, critical thinking skills, and a safe place to learn and grow where they can also better respond to natural disasters in the future. Please help us generate awareness – Become a fan of our Facebook page, join us on Twitter, and share with your networks. If you would like to start a MDF Circle group in your community there are various one-time or re-occurring ideas and activities that we would be pleased to share. You can reach us at email@example.com or +01 (970) 963-3150.
Marshall Direct Fund (MDF) continues to work very hard to maintain operations and provide ongoing support to teachers, staff, students, and families affiliated with our schools. As much as we would like to grow the organization and expand our reach into additional areas that are in desperate need of educational facilities we believe it is very important to serve those at our existing schools well and help them become self-sustaining. In the wake of the floods and the successive inflation and lack of access to quality food, it has been a priority to ensure that schools have what they need to ensure that children shelter, quality education, healthy meals and all other necessary items/conditions to learn in a secure environment. As mentioned in our last report, we are very fortunate to have an amazing community of Pakistani teachers and project staff that work together and engage families to come up with innovative solutions to make sure that the learning experience for underserved youth is a positive one. Instead of purchasing brand new books for students advancing a grade level, for example, students in the level above recycle their books after they have completed the course so that the students entering that class have access to the materials they need without the schools incurring costs for brand new books.
We are excited to have a strong partnership with local organization, IKI Foundation, that has several established vocational centers. We are working with end market retailers in the US and women in the vocational centers to give them input and market linkages for producing tunics, sandals, yoga mat bags, and embellished goods for the international market. We will be piloting their first line of products in the marketplace at a handful of retail outlets over the next few months. Depending on retailer feedback and successive demand, we will be scaling the project to get more women involved. Once we have confirmed adequate demand for these products, the more experienced sewers and manufacturers in the IKI Foundation vocational centers will train women in the communities that MDF has schools. This will enable more women to gain economic opportunities and fair wages that will help alleviate conditions of poverty for them and their families, including the students enrolled in MDF schools. This contributes to a more self-sustaining financial model, which allows the students and families affiliated with MDF schools to be less dependent on ongoing donor dollars.
MDF invites your input and involvement and would love any ideas that would enable us to attract wider support. As always, we sincerely thank all of our donors and supporters. Please know this project is helping youth and their families to obtain credible education, critical thinking skills, and a safe place to learn new skills and grow so that they can better respond to natural disasters in the future. Please help us generate awareness – Become a fan of our Facebook page, join us on Twitter, and share with your networks. If you would like to start a MDF Circle group in your community there are various one-time or re-occurring ideas and activities that we would be pleased to share. You can reach us at firstname.lastname@example.org or +01 (970) 963-3150.
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