Dear MTM Family,
After months of what seemed like never ending suffering and sadness brought upon Liberia by the Ebola epidemic, we are finally able to celebrate an Ebola-Free Liberia and the reopening of the More Than Me Academy! While we are continuing to support many Ebola survivors as they rebuild their lives and return to normalcy, we have been able to shift our focus back to our main mission: ensuring that when our girls graduate, they get to determine what comes next for their lives. We’ve added 35 new students who’ve been orphaned or abandoned by Ebola, and we are actively working to add more Ebola orphans to the MTM Academy as soon as possible. School is open, bustling with activities, and operations are almost back in full swing!
One exciting development at the MTM Academy? Family planning training for our students. An excerpt from our Program Manager’s recent report describes the training:
“After receiving consent from the parents of 24 students from all classes, we are able to provide family planning services to their children. The team is planning to conduct a two-day training workshop on the basic concept of family planning, understanding their changing bodies, and information on STIs and HIV/AIDS."
Parenting training is being implemented among the parents of our girls to cover topics such as discipline, routines, structure, and positive communication for those parents that have expressed interest in alternative parenting techniques. MTM has also recruited two new FEMALE (first time ever!!) security guards to monitor the daily lives of the students - empowering not only our girls, but also the women that surround them! Check out some pictures of the girls back at school below.
Many students have been recognized for their achievements. Three students will compete in Liberia’s National Spelling Bee held by the Ministry of Education, three students were recognized for winning a poetry contest organized by the British Embassy, and, after examinations, five students were promoted to higher grade levels. These five students received a score of 90% or higher on their subject exams. We love seeing our girls do awesome things!
Our MTM family not only includes our students, but also their families, our staff, and YOU! So THANK YOU for your continued love and support.
For a brighter future,
Helen, Project Intern, and the More Than Me Team
Thank you for standing by our girls and the community of West Point during these trying times. We are excited to announce that the More Than Me Academy is finally reopening on March 2nd!
Here’s an excerpt from our Program Manager's recent report on our school opening preparations:
Thank you for coming on this journey with us!
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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
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 email@example.com.
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.
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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