More Than Me

The More Than Me Academy is on a mission to make sure education and opportunity, not exploitation and poverty, define the lives of the most vulnerable girls from the West Point Slum of Liberia. When she graduates, she will decide what comes next for her life.
May 29, 2014

First Update on Getting Girls in School!

The two tutors: Eve and Albernita!
The two tutors: Eve and Albernita!

We are still blown away by your support. The girls wanted to personally thank you for helping them stay in school and get their friends in school too!

There is one month of school left, and our students are working harder than ever. Our Principal, Maritza, teaches the most advanced class of girls, the Power Class. Here's her update:

The Power girls have been calculating area of compound shapes in math, and most of them were having a lot of trouble with it. I hired the two students who fully understand the math to tutor the other students. The two math whizzes are Eve, 13 and Albernita, 14. I walked into the room maybe twice to check in. It was completely student centered. I gave them a math review quiz the next day, and all the girls who attended the session passed. Success! 

It's stories like this that keep us going.

We also wanted to let you know about a slight change to our program for next year. Originally, we wanted to add 50 more girls for the 2014-2015 school year to even out all the classes to 25 students. This would mean recruiting girls from many different ages and ability levels. After further consideration, we realized that it would be more disruptive to the overall learning of our students to bring in girls from different grade levels and try to match them with our classes. Instead, we decided that adding a new kindergarten class only would make a lot more sense. That means we won't be adding 50 girls, but we will be adding a full class of kindergarteners next year! 

Thank you for your understanding. We are working hard to find the best way to move all of our girls forward. Our commitment to our students has not waivered. If you have any questions, we are happy to answer them. Please email your questions or comments to emilyb@morethanme.org. We are excited to finish out this year strong and continue planning for next year!

For the girls,

Emily

P.S. 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.

Saturday tutoring session!
Saturday tutoring session!

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Mar 28, 2014

Update on MTM's clean water!

Aqualife pouches provide clean water #forthegirls
Aqualife pouches provide clean water #forthegirls

Dear Amazing Supporters,

We wanted to update you on the Clean Rain Water Project at the MTM Academy. After you funded the project so successfuly, Cyrus - one of our amazing staff members in Liberia - installed pipes to create a rainwater harvesting system for the academy. This system was relatively cheap to install, and along with our partnership with Aqualife, which provides clean water pouches for the girls free of charge all school year long, we've been able to provide our girls with clean and safe access to water for less than the amount you raised. 

This is good news! It's not uncommon for this to happen with GlobalGiving's microprojects, but we wanted to let you know exactly where your money is going. The money that wasn't spent on the rainwater harvesting system will go to our More Than Me Girls Academy project fund. So the money you raised is actually going further.

On a water related note, in Liberia 54% of primary schools don't have any access to water at all. Girls who do not have appropriate sanitation facilities at school are less likely to attend school, particularly if they are menstruating. Having just celebrated World Water Day on March 22nd, we are grateful to you for making the MTM Academy stand out from the crowd. For giving these girls not only access to clean water every day, but also for supporting their ongoing education and investing in their future.

At the MTM Academy, we are on a mission to make sure education and opportunity, not exploitation and poverty, define the lives of the most vulnerable girls from the West Point Slum of Liberia. When she graduates, she will decide what comes next for her life. If you have any questions, please don't hesitate to contact me at emilyb@morethanme.org. Thank you so much for your continued support.

For good health and better sanitation,

Emily & The MTM Team

P.S. The next big Match Day is on Wednesday, April 16th! Mark your calendars for a chance to make your support go even further (again).

Mar 3, 2014

Honoring B

In June 2013, we wrote a report called Beatrice's Story. We wanted to update you on that story.

At the end of November 2013, Beatrice became very ill. She had been sick for a while, but when she went to the hospital in September, the doctor said it was an enlarged heart and told her not to eat Liberian pepper or salt. In November, her whole body became swollen and when our Director of Programs, Michelle, was made aware of the situation, she took B to the hospital immediately.

B was in the hospital for 10 days. On Monday, December 2nd, she was diagnosed with an enlarged heart, ascariasis worms in her stomach and lungs, and severely infected ulcerations on her legs. B passed away on Tuesday, December 3rd. Here is part of her story from Michelle:

The process was not miraculous or beautiful- it was full of pain, frustration, confusion and struggle. It was a lot of waiting...waiting for a diagnosis, waiting for a nurse to come, waiting to know what her chances of surviving were. 

But those are not the moments that stick out in my mind. What sticks out in my mind is that Beatrice fought. This 13-year-old girl looked death and pain in the eyes and she never flinched. She let it sit there, but didn’t allow it to make her desperate. She had every right to feel like a victim and give up, but she NEVER, not for one moment, acted that way. 

My favorite moment with B is that we had this campaign at the time for Giving Tuesday- "I'm on the street so that she doesn't have to be." I used to sit with B during the day and work from her hospital room. One day I was showing her our staff's profile pictures on Facebook holding the sign. She was so intrigued by the different locations people chose and the concept behind the campaign. When I walked away with my laptop, she told me that she wanted to take a picture with the sign. I laughed and said that we were in the hospital not on the street.

And then she said something that I will never forget, she said something so wise. This 13-year-old girl said, "I'm also fighting Michelle. I'm fighting so that no other student, no other girl in Liberia has to be in this hospital, has to be in my condition." She's so young but she GETS IT. She gets the whole point of More Than Me. That our lives are so much bigger than ourselves. B was staring death in the face and yet still fighting for every other girl in our program and in Liberia. I thought it was too much for her to even just fight for herself, for most people I think that would have been too much. But B is remarkable, B is extraordinary, B is an inspiration to us all. She didn't want her pain, her suffering to go to waste. She got that the most powerful thing she could do in that moment was to fight for something bigger than herself.  

Her death shook our community, but we refuse to let her strength and spirit pass along with her.

This February we opened the “Be Your Best Self” Library in honor of Beatrice with support from the British Ambassador. And two weeks ago, we dewormed 124 students. It wasn’t beautiful watching our students struggling to pass the worms, but with every worm-free stomach comes the possibility of a healthier, longer life. We felt Beatrice’s spirit smiling down on us seeing that we are doing everything in our power to continue her fight that no student will have to lie in that hospital bed.

To keep our programs growing deeper, we're asking you to make a recurring donation to More Than Me. Right now, Microsoft is matching new recurring donations for the first 3 months, up to $500 per donor! Please consider sustaining our programs and improving our girls' lives in this way. How? When you click the donate button, select "monthly" under Frequency.

Thank you from the bottom of our hearts. We think of B often and strive to honor her life every day.

For a brighter future,

Emily & the MTM Team

The "Be Your Best Self" Library!
The "Be Your Best Self" Library!

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