The clock is ticking... With your support, our Blossom Bus project has raised over $25,000 from 439 donors over the past month, ensuring dozens of adolescent girls in rural India can return to school next year. Though our wildest expectations have been exceeded, we have unfortunately fallen out of the top six. Whether or not we win this challenge depends on you, our most dedicated champions. Here are three easy steps you can take to help us ensure victory:
1. Make a donation (or two).One donation=one vote for the Blossom Bus project, and donating online at www.blossombus.org just takes a minute or two. We are only asking for $10, the minimum donation allowed by GlobalGiving.
Already donated? THANK YOU! The great news is that you can cast a second vote by via text-to-donate. Simply text "GIVE 5307" to 80088 to donate $10 to The Blossom Bus. Charges will appear on your wireless bill and message and data rates may apply (only works for US mobile phones). 2. Send a personalized email. Sending a personalized email to your contacts is the single most effective method for increasing our number of votes. Taking a few minutes to explain the challenge and why it matters to you will go a long way in encouraging participation. People care about what you care about, and they want to support YOU. You can view/copy a sample letter by clicking here. Be sure to let your contacts know that it takes just $10 and a few minutes of their time!
3. Spread the word online.Share info on this challenge with your social networks. We have created a few sample posts for Facebook and Twitter which can be downloaded here. We also encourage you to watch and share a short video the girls helped us put together specifically for this challenge.Thank you for your support, and for helping us unleash the power of the Girl Effect! You can follow our progress on the Girl Effect Leaderboard over the next 30 hours. With your help, we will soon be celebrating victory!Warmly,
It was a huge pleasure for me to finally meet some of the girls in our Blossom Bus project this October 19 after having seen so many pictures and recounted so many of their stories here on GlobalGiving. Our project manager Suraj Kumar asked the girls to gather at the house of one beneficiary, Anjum, so as to avoid the scrutiny and spectacle that staff sometimes encounter when visiting them at school.
Our visit was a big event in the village - seeing westerners in a far corner of Mewat is about as rare as seeing cows wandering freely in the streets of an American city. We gathered with a dozen bus riders in Anjum's back yard, and village boys perched on walls around the courtyard to get a glimpse of what was going on. In contrast, the girls we were there to see were very shy, hiding their smiles behind their scarves. Yet they were clearly excited about our visit, and we told them the same news we are sharing with you below - that their project was selected to participate in the first ever Girl Effect Challenge, hosted by GlobalGiving and the Girl Effect Fund.
Truly, the 140 young women in Mewat who will be riding our Blossom Bus this year ARE the Girl Effect. Most are the first females in their villages to reach grades 9 and 10, and with each new academic year they believe even more that they can, and should, complete yet another. Girls who were slated to marry at age 12 or 13 are now setting their sites on a university education. And we know that regardless of what level they reach, they are now much more likely to see that their children are also properly educated, and to make sure their daughters get the same treatment as their sons.
GUESS WHAT? WE HAVE EXCITING NEWS!The Blossom Bus has been selected to participate in the first ever Girl Effect Challenge! Through November 15, we are competing with approximately 50 other organizations around the world to become one of six beneficiaries of the Girl Effect Fund, a collective giving pool that has raised nearly $700,000 to date.By becoming a Girl Effect partner, we will not only receive significant financial support for our Blossom Bus project in 2012, but we will also get critical exposure to Girl Effect fans around the world. Need proof that this will make a difference? The Girl Effect has 17,500 followers on Twitter, 260,000 "likes" on Facebook and nearly 1,000,000 views on YouTube! And it isn't hard to see why the Girl Effect is so popular: watch this video to learn why.WE CAN’T WIN WITHOUT YOUR HELPBetween now and November 15, our Blossom Bus project must recruit as many unique donors as possible. We are asking all of our supporters to give just $10 during this time period to help us win the competition. Every donation raised during this period will not only bring us one step closer to our dream of partnering with Girl Effect, but will ensure adolescent girls in Mewat, India can safely return to school. By providing bus transportation, we will help many of these girls escape childhood marriage and become the first girls to reach high school in the history of their villages!You can make your $10 donation today at http://www.globalgiving.org/projects/the-blossom-bus/ (and be sure to check out our new video of the girls!)
HELP US GO GUERRILLAWe know we can do this! You helped Lotus Outreach win a similar challenge in 2009. But we also know how important it is to get our supporters mobilized and engaged. The projects leading the Challenge tend to have the most Facebook shares, so please tell your friends, family and colleagues about this competition on Facebook and ask them to pledge their support. Every donation counts, so please help us spread the word far and wide through email and Twitter as well!Questions? Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org
This September 4 we met with our 58 Blossom Bus riders, their parents and the heads of five villages at Mankaki school in Hathin block, Mewat for a community Sports Day to celebrate the impact of education. Unfortunately, the weather didn’t cooperate and the sports activities were rained out, but those present took the opportunity to gather and discuss the wonderful benefit of the Blossom Bus project and their hopes for the future of girls’ education in Mewat.
The families told us that the Blossom Bus is now well known throughout Mewat, and it would easily be filled by girls from every village if we could meet the demand. The village head of Mankaki shared his gratitude for what he called a “trend-setter service” which he believes will change the face of Mewat. (Mankaki is the home of our beneficiary Anjum, who wrote a stunning manifesto of women’s rights a few months ago.)
Parents and village heads alike spoke about how important the project is for girls who never thought they would go to school past grade 8, since parents consider it unsafe for their daughters to walk four to five kilometers to neighboring villages where the only secondary schools are available. Project Manager Suraj Kumar (affectionately called “Uncle” in the villages) acknowledged the support of all the villagers, and thanked them for the tremendous faith and trust they showed in our staff.
Suraj also took the opportunity to discuss more broadly the Right to Education Act of 2009, effective April 1, 2010, which guarantees free quality education for all Indian children up to grade 8. He asked those present to raise demand for school transport, which should rightly be provided by the government to girls so that their right to education can be realized.
This fall, we will be expanding to provide bus transportation to 100 young women on five buses to attend secondary school. The villagers and Blossom Bus riders agreed that girls now studying in grade 9 and 10 are the first in their villages to reach these grades – and that prior to the project they could not have achieved this dream in a district which posted a 2 percent female literacy rate in India's 2001 census.
The 58 Blossom Bus riders were given school bags and uniforms, as were 40 other girls from Mankaki village for encouragement. All children present were given sweets, a rare treat, as a token of appreciation for their participation. Our warmest and sincerest thanks to each and every one of you, who have helped bring this remarkable project to life.
My name is Arastun. I am 16 years old live in Mankaki village of Mewat. I was studying in grade seven when I fell down at home and injured my spine. One of my legs started getting weak, and walking even 100 meters was a great pain in my legs and arms. I was limping badly and it was impossible to walk three kilometers to the school where I was studying.
My father, a poor man working as a farm laborer, took me to many doctors and hospitals but I could not be cured completely. The bigger casualty of the accident was my education as I could not walk to school. While under treatment, the teachers at my school agreed to keep me enrolled in the school and even promoted me to grade eight last year, but I was very sad as my father being a poor man could not think of a transport for me to travel to school. My father wanted me to study, and even my grandfather tried every possibility to keep me in school without a success.
One day my grandfather came home smiling and told me that I can go to school. I could not understand the reason behind the smile on my grandfather’s face but was wondering how can this be possible? The next day a van stopped in front of my house and I was asked to board it with help of two of my classmates. I thought I was going to school in a van hired by parents of some other students in our village, and maybe this was a one-day complementary ride to make me happy. I asked my classmates and was informed that the van was being provided by one organization called Lotus Outreach and will be carrying all of us to school every day.
I could not believe my luck and was so happy to going to school even though I could not walk. Children in villages of Mewat cannot think of these types of services being made available for free.
This is a blessing for me personally. I am in grade nine now, down because of my illness but not out. I sometimes feel depressed as I am disabled, but very happy to go to school, meet my energetic classmates - friends who always encourage and help me in forgetting that I have some disability. I want to go to school, study as long as I am alive. I do not know for how long I can survive as I am living on medication, but I am happy that I am alive and in school, lively with my schoolmate friends.
Long Live Blossom Bus.
The marks came in yesterday for our Blossom Bus students' first set of exams, and we’re pleased to say the results are astounding - every one of the 46 young women who participated in this initiative was promoted to the next level! The report card for six girls who passed the eighth grade - with flying colors - is pictured above.
Nearly forced to drop out due to a lack of transportation, these girls have made themselves, their teachers and their parents proud. Without this seemingly small intervention, their reality today would look much different: many would have been married off (some as young as 12), while most of the others would be tilling the fields for wages far below the sustenance level.
Instead, the Blossom Bus riders adopted bright new attitudes - and their parents have gotten swept up in their enthusiasm as well. Impressed with their daughters’ success, they are now committed to getting through the annual harvest without the extra hands so the girls can continue their studies; parents have even implored our staff to keep the buses running through May. Although the pilot was originally slated to end yesterday, upon hearing this great news we immediately told our officers in Mewat to keep it rolling!
The significance of this initiative for the community it serves is profound: out of 70,000 students in the Hathin block of Mewat in 2009, only one Muslim girl was studying in grade 9. Next year, nine Muslim girls will attend grade 9 and four will be in grade 10 only because of the Blossom Bus. The opportunity being presented is not lost on these young women, who as a group have had perfect attendance since the start of the project.
Please join us in congratulating them for their achievements! Your support has helped turn the world around for these 46 eager students, and we thank you sincerely on their behalf. We hope you may consider renewing your support, bearing in mind that $150 will keep one of these girls in school for an entire year.
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