Greetings Girls Education International Supporters,
Thank you so much for supporting our recent program expansion to include girls in Tanzania! Through our partnership with Project Wezesha (www.projectwezesha.org), we are now supporting a group of young women in secondary school in western Tanzania.
The girls were honored to be selected in the summer of 2013 and were so excited when they received the items they needed to embark on their new school year. For some of them, that included mattresses! That's right - a few of our girls did so well on their secondary entrance exams that they were selected by the governmnet to attend boarding schools in various regions of the country. For the girls who stayed nearby, they were given other required (and perhaps unexpected) items - such as buckets, brushes, and hoes. Yes, that's right - part of the civic engagement of being a student is taking care of your school grounds. (See the pictures of the girls with their swag.)
After the first 6 months, the girls had a varied set of reports to share with us. Some reports were a bit disheartening, as can be the case when we check in. Studies are challenging because books are scarce. Subject matter is difficult to learn because classes are taught in English (and they speak Swahili). But, through interviews with the girls this past summer, we did hear from them that they know, without question, that education is the 'way forward'. They recounted the value of education to help them make their society better. They noted the importance of education to help their family with health related situations. They shared their ideas about how with education, they can do more to improve their lives. They also expressed that they are very happy and grateful to be going to school every day.
I'm going back in December to visit the students and attend the opening of the secondary school that Project Wezesha has been building with local leaders since 2010. We are very excited - as are the local primary students who are looking forward to filling these classrooms in the near future.
Thank you so much for your support! Because of you, these girls are in school as members of an academic community - trying (hard as it may be) to reach their educational goals and make their lives better!
Rai Farrelly Board Member, Girls Education InternationalCo-Founder, Project Wezesha
Dear Girls Ed Supporters,
Greetings from all of us here at Girls Education International and Project Wezesha. We're excited about an opportunity we have to increase our funding by 100% per donation! It's time for a YouthSpark Bonus Day. We hope that you'll join us, as Microsoft is planning to match your contributions - dollar for dollar! Here's how it works:
Between 12pm (EST) on Wednesday June 25th and midnight (EST) on Thursday June 26th, Microsoft will match at 100% all donations between $10 - $1,000 per donor, per project (up to $200,000). This cap at $200,000 means that funds will run out - and fast!
In addition to the 100% matching opportunity, the project with the most unique donors will also recieve $2,500! So, please share with your friends - every donation at even $10 will help us toward a potential award of $2,500. In addition, the project that raises the most money during Bonus Day will also earn an extra $2,500. So many ways to ensure that our girls in Tanzania have their scholarships covered until they graduate!
Please use the sharing buttons below to let others know about this opportunity. You can also donate by clicking the 'Give Now' button below - but wait until 12p (EST) on June 25th!
The girls we recently added last year have been in school since January. All of our girls are in Form 1, so none of them is facing any 'scary' exams this summer, however all of them are struggling and striving to balance home life and school life. For a young girl in Tanzania, this is often a delicate balance. There are many pressures that can force a girl to miss school - caring for other family members, having her period, working during harvest time, staying home to collect water when the pipes are turned on briefly, and various other reasons! We can at least make sure that school fees are not a barrier.
Nickolas Kristof recently wrote an Op-Ed piece for the NY Times in which he revisited the story of a young girl that he wrote about in 2011, who received educational support from the organization, Room to Read. He shares the story of her life, then and now, and what a difference education is making for her. Like so many of the students I meet in Tanzania, she can't imagine children complaining about getting out of bed early to go to school. Our students walk quite a way each morning and afternoon - and do so because they know education is a privilege, although it should be a right.
And why does education matter? Kristof also wrote a piece about 'smart girls' "Why are fanatics so terrified of girls’ education? Because there’s no force more powerful to transform a society. The greatest threat to extremism isn’t drones firing missiles, but girls reading books." A woman empowered is a truly a force to be reckoned with.
In Mgaraganza, I have encountered some rather surprising incidents of ignorance. One example - a man assaulted a visiting doctor because he touched his wife in 'her sex'. The doctor was run out of town. The woman? She was pregnant and the 'touching' was a routine check-up to make sure the baby was healthy and in the right position given her term. Neither she nor her husband were aware of what was happening. Education of both men and women is critical for progress - no doubt. We're focusing on the girls with this project because they are underserved in this region, with the majority of students in all classes being boys.
Information that many of us take for granted as 'common knowledge' is grounded in our educational experiences. We believe that all children should have access to an education that provides them with that 'common knowledge'. With your continued support, we will be able to make sure that our scholarship recipients stay in school until they graduate, and then they will have even greater opportunities to go to high school or vocational school, and maybe one day - university!
After my trip this summer, I'll send reports back from the girls - pictures, stories, voices, videos and reports on academic progress. I'm excited to see how their first year of secondary school has gone thus far, and I'm even more excited to share that news with you! Stay tuned!
Rai Farrelly & The Girls Ed Team
Here in Armenia (where I am based now), International Day of the Woman (March 8th) spans the entire month of March! It has been nice to see so many celebrations of the wonder of women throughout this month. The flower salespeople can barely keep the roses and tulips stocked. Women greet each other with well-wishes for a happy women's month. Men seem to be going out of their way to let their women know how special they are.
Is there any wonder why? As UN Women Executive Director Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka states in her International Day of the Woman address, 'progress for women is progress for all'.
With your help, we are doing our part to make an impact on the state of women in the world - starting locally in the villages of Tanzania, Liberia, and Pakistan and spreading out from there. When we think of the magnitude of work to be done related to educating girls and women worldwide, we sometimes think of The Hummingbird story told beautifully by Nobel Peace Prize winner, Wangari Maathai of Kenya. We are all simply doing the best that we can - and we should celebrate that we are all at least doing something.
Be the hummingbird! Together our impact will resonate around the world.
Our girls in Tanzania started school in January. I will be visiting them at their schools in July to capture their smiles and stories and report back to you so you know exactly who you've touched and how. Thank you so much for your support. Please continue to support us by donating, spreading the word through Social Media and among friends, and just bringing us up in conversation. We truly appreciate every 'hummingbird drop' of support.
Rai FarrellyMember, Board of Directors for Girls EdCo-Founder, Project Wezesha
Greetings Girls Education International Supporters!
We thought we'd thank you with a video to share some of the smiles that light us up when we visit Tanzania. We're so excited that the girls we invited to join our program this summer will be starting secondary school in January 2014. We truly appreciate your support and hope you will continue to spread the word among friends. We'll be in touch again as soon as we have some updates on their first month as the 'new girls on the block', making their way one class at a time toward their dreams!
Thank you for being part of their journey!
The Girls Education Team and the many girls you're supporting!www.girlsed.orgwww.facebook.com/GirlsEd
Thank you so much for your enthusiasm about the launch of our new program in Tanzania! We are very excited to have an official roster of girls that we will be supporting in the upcoming 2014 school year. The girls are all Standard 7 Primary School students who will be moving into secondary school in January. This report will let you know about the selection process and give you some information about the girls we have selected.
In the Spring of 2013, the Girls Ed board met and discussed the possibility of expanding our support of girls into Tanzania. The move seemed logical since we already partner with Project Wezesha who works in the Kigoma region. We have support on the ground through Lucas Lameck, co-founder of Project Wezesha. Lucas will work with Girls Ed to make sure that the girls’ school fees are paid and that their grades are reported to Girls Ed throughout the 4-year scholarship program.
In July 2013, Lucas and I (Rai Farrelly) considered the number of primary schools in each of the 5 villages within the Kagongo Ward, from which we would select the girls. The Kagongo Ward includes the same villages that Project Wezesha works with - Mgaraganza, Kagongo, Kigaliye, Mtanga and Kalalangabo. The lakeside villages of Mtanga, Kalalangabo and Kigaliye each have one primary school, Kagongo has two and Mgaraganza has four - so we chose more girls from Mgaraganza and Kagongo villages than the lakeside villages.
Success in secondary school depends on the foundations established in primary school, but even with decent scores in main subject areas in primary school, a key factor in secondary school success is English language. Tanzania still teaches all subjects in Swahili through primary school, then switches abruptly to English in secondary school. As a result, many secondary students struggle to understand the teachings of their mainstream courses - such as physics, math, geography - all of which are taught in English. With this in mind, we decided to provide scholarships to the top 3 girls in each standard 7 class that we targeted.
We delivered applications and met with head teachers at each primary school. We explained our program and how we were selecting the girls. The head teachers had a few days to calculate scores of the girls in standard 7 classes and have them complete their applications. The applications asked for personal information as well as short responses to two questions that targeted their personal interests and why they valued education, including what they wanted to do after school.
We returned to collect applications, meet the girls, congratulate them on being selected and take their pictures. As you can imagine, beneath several shy smiles and averted glances, all the girls were very excited. As the girls came in to the office, they kept straight faces and dropped to a squat position - a sign of respect or deference. I quickly asked each to stand up and walked over to shake their hands and exchange greetings in English (always making them smile at this point). Hi, how are you? What is your name? My name is Rai. My first question in Swahili was Do you want to go to secondary school? (Smiles grow with enthusiastic affirmative responses.) Then, Lucas and I explained the program and fielded any questions they had (which was always none). When we took pictures, they always gave me a good ‘poker face’ first, then I coaxed them until they showed me their beautiful smiles - the more natural look for all of them!
Now, we are happy to have 25 girls in our program! Among the girls, we have some who want to be teachers, nurses, and doctors. Their responses to ‘why is education important to you’ include: it will help me live a better life; it will help me teach people how to conserve the environment; it will help me to continue into higher education; it will help me to contribute to society.
The following 25 girls will be joining our program in January! (*Caveat: unfortunately, there is a national examination that the girls must pass to go to secondary school. We acknowledge that while we’ve chosen the top girls from each class, there is still the chance - especially from the more remote village schools where scores were lower on average - that some of our girls will not pass into secondary school. If this happens, we will either select girls who are currently in secondary school, in good standing, who cannot pay their school fees and face being sent home. Hopefully, this won’t come to pass - but we’ll keep you posted when the scores are back in December!).
Name, Age and Village (you can see pics of all the girls here)
Thank you for your continued support. Please consider sharing the work we're doing with friends and family who you think might be interested in chipping in so we can continue to provide scholarships to girls in LIberia, Pakistan and Tanzania.
The Girls Ed Team
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Co-Founder, Project Wezesha; Treasurer, Girls Education International