Dear More Than Me Family,
Thank you for your continued support. Over the past few months, we've expanded our mission to fight Ebola, and the fight is not over yet. We've started The Coalition to End Ebola because we believe that as long as Ebola is in Liberia, our girls are at risk. So we are fighting to end this epidemic as quickly as possible by understanding and supporting the needs of communities and local leaders and remaining flexible to respond rapidly to urgent needs.
As you know, the Ebola crisis forced schools to shut down in July. They remain closed today, which means that our girls have been out of school for way too long. Recently, President Sirleaf lifted the state of emergency in Liberia and hopes to be able to reopen schools in early 2015. We are working hard in our community and hoping that Ebola cases continue to decline so that we can reopen the More Than Me Academy in February 2015.
We will open the school for our current MTM students and will employ a mixture of last year's staff and Liberian and international volunteers. On top of normal subjects, we'll provide health and computer classes, school meals, and access to healthcare and psychosocial services.
To continue this work, we absolutely need your help. The next GlobalGiving Match Day is on Giving Tuesday, December 2nd! On that day, donations up to $500 are matched 100% by Microsoft. Matching starts at 9am ET on Tuesday, December 2nd. Need a reminder? Join our facebook event and we'll share the link at the exact time matching starts.
In this together,
Emily and the More Than Me Team
Dear MTM Family,
Thank you for your continued support. Our report this month is going to be a little bit different. As your probably know, there is an Ebola outbreak in West Africa affecting Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Guinea. On July 30th, President Sirleaf recommended that schools close to avoid large gatherings. We decided we needed to close the MTM Academy for the safety of our girls, staff, and community.
On July 31st, the girls and their families came to the school. We gave students care packages 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, parents, 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.
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. She has been meeting with community leaders, government officials, health officials, and police to coordinate a faster response to Ebola in West Point. 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.
Emily & the MTM Team
With one month of school left, we continue to be inspired by the progress our students have made. No ‘summer fever’ or ‘senioritis’ here; the girls aim to work as hard as they can to improve their reading and math skills before summer break.
Lauren, our Vision Class teacher, reports:
Last week, the Vision girls finished their individual oral phonics tests, and have now officially completed two years of phonics! Our values of the month are "determination" and "mastery", and the girls have done a great job putting those two values into practice. We began our first round of optional Saturday review classes, where all but six of the girls attended to sharpen their reading skills.
They have also been paired together as special "phonics friends" to reinforce the material, and most of them spend their lunch and recess hour reviewing their work so they can become the best readers possible. They have said that they will do whatever it takes to finish an additional half-year of phonics by the end of the school year (instead of just reviewing the material we've already learned), which will have them finishing the year halfway through the second-grade reading program. This is INCREDIBLE considering they all had not had a single phonics class before the year began. We started with Kindergarten phonics at the beginning of the year. The Vision girls are working hard, and we are so proud of their dedication to learning!
When Saturday school is a big hit, you know you're onto something good. We're proud to be pushing for the best outcomes for our girls. When she graduates, she will decide what comes next for her life. And that’s HUGE!
For the girls,
P.S. We are excited that the last day of school, June 25th, is also a Microsoft Bonus Day, with donations matched at 100%! Stay tuned on facebook and twitter for how you can get involved and see the progress our girls have made in a year.
THANK YOU for your continued investment in our students. At the MTM Academy, we take the wellness of our girls seriously. Delving deeper into the barriers that girls like Bendu and Dorkus face, we've widened our breadth of resources to meet our students' needs. We've expanded our feeding program. We've started a school clinic and hired a nurse, something that 97.3% of Liberian schools are lacking. Since November, we've dewormed 120 students, treated 38 cases of malaria, and referred 14 students to local clinic/hospitals for more intensive care.
Only 3.1% of schools in Liberia have a computer lab and we are one of them. Only 11% of schools have a library. We opened the "Be Your Best Self" Library this month with the help of the British Embassy.
Our social workers, co-teachers, school aids, and one-on-one tutors ensure that the girls receive an education tailored to their level. Visitng social work professors from Carlow University recently recommended More Than Me to the US Embassy as "the best organization protecting and preparing young women against human trafficking in regions like West Africa."
Again, we say Thank You. Investing in these girls' education will have long-lasting effects on their lives and on Liberia's future development. We're excited to announce that right now, Microsoft is matching new recurring donations 100% for the first 3 months, up to $500 per donor. That's up to $1500 in matching funds! Amplify your impact by making a new monthly donation to More Than Me to further sustain our programs and give our girls the best education possible!
With love for a brighter future,
So many things have happened since the More Than Me Academy opened it's doors on September 7th. Here are some of the highlights:
President Sirleaf cut the ribbon at our Grand Opening Ceremony. When asked what the #1 way Americans can help Liberia is, she said, "To support More Than Me and get all these girls in school!" Seriously! See more of the Opening Ceremony here.
We tested our girls before opening and found that they were all severely behind grade level. We placed them into three different levels (instead of grades), and are testing them each quarter to monitor their progress. Our focus is on remedial reading and math. We've already seen some girls jump grade levels and are hoping to bring every student up two grade levels from where they started by the end of this school year. It's exciting, frustrating, and exhilarating all at the same time.
We had our first parent-teacher conferences - and they were immensely successful. Our principal, Maritza, who spent the last eight years as a teacher in the South Bronx, used to dread parent-teacher conferences. Why? Simply because no parents would show up. On the day of conferences at the MTM Academy, she expected the same thing. As she gingerly walked to the entrance of the building, Maritza couldn't believe her eyes. A mob of people stood waiting outside the front gates.
Nearly ALL of the parents of our students showed up. Most of them have never received an education themselves. Teachers talked to parents about how they can help their daughters with their homework and encourage them to excel in school. It was a beautiful day that reinforced the importance of what we are doing. The community of West Point wants to see their daughters succeed. And together, we will make sure that they do.
Right now, you can do something to ensure that these girls have the support network they need to become powerful leaders in their community. Today, Microsoft is matching donations up to $1000 at 100%. That means that $100 = $200 - from now until matching funds run out! Will you join us in supporting the daughters of West Point? Thank you for your continued generosity - we couldn't do this work without you!
For a better world,
Emily and the MTM Team
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