Girls Education International

The mission of Girls Education International is to expand and support educational opportunities for underserved females in remote and developing regions of the world. We work with existing non-governmental and nonprofit organizations in the regions we serve. These local organizations already have relationships and infrastructures in the rural communities where we work that allow us to build upon and maximize existing resources.
Nov 6, 2015

A Final Report on Amahoro Secondary School

Scholarship Students
Scholarship Students

Dear Project Wezesha Supporters,

After years of fundraising and some very generous support from all of you, Amahoro Secondary School opened its doors in January, 2015. The opening ceremony was a fabulous event with music, dancing, singing, speeches, laughing, honoring, and hugging!

But most importantly, there was a school opening!

In January 2015, school officially began. 75 first year secondary students joined their peers in classes with new and excited teachers. The surrounding community was thrilled to welcome this school to Mgaraganza. Children from the lakeside villages of Mtanga and Kigalie would now only walk one hour to school instead of two! The children of Mgaraganza village would only have to walk about 10-20 minutes, rather than an hour and fifteen minutes - as they did when attending school in Kagongo Village.

Through our joint efforts, we were able to make this happen! We constructed 16 rooms - 4 quads with space for classrooms, offices and laboratories. With the help of our rockstar donors Shelmina and Minaz, we also built state of the art latrines for the school.

Is the job done? No. There is still finishing work to be completed on some of the classrooms.

Is our job done? Yes. We believe in honoring our commitments, and so we have. The local and regional governments and the Ministry of Education have made commitments to continue the final touches on this school until it is ready to host not only Form 1 students, but cohorts of Form 2, Form 3, and Form 4.

Did Project Wezesha make any other commitments? Well ... maybe. 

In 2015 the Prime Minister of Tanzania mandated that all schools have laboratories to better support the development of education in STEM fields. In particular, all secondary schools must have labs to explore chemistry, biology and physics through hands-on practice. His goal is too ambitious and likely will not be realized - um, actually, it wasn't realized. He wanted all ward secondary schools to be equipped with labs by May 2015. This might have been doable in certain developed and wealthy regions of the country (i.e., Dar es Salaam), but not in the majority of the country.

Project Wezesha plans to help the local government in Mgaraganza village as they construct labs to develop a community of creative and critical thinkers who can reach high school and pursue academic interests in any field they want - including science and technology!

So, what's next?

We are closing this campaign and want to thank all of you for your fabulous support over the years. We invite you to continue supporting our efforts in Mgaraganza, Tanzania through our newly launched campaign: Provide Science Labs for Tanzania Secondary Schools.

You can continue to check in with us and find out how our scholarship program and science lab campaigns are doing by visiting our website or by visiting us on Facebook.

 

'Thank you' is the best prayer that anyone could say. I say that one a lot. Thank you expresses extreme gratitude, humility, understanding. -Alice Walker

If 'Thank You' is a prayer, then we are always praying and you are in our prayers. It seems impossible to adequately express our gratitude for your participation in this journey! But we hope that you'll continue to venture on with us.
Asante Sana!
With love,
Rai Farrelly and Lucas Lameck
Co-Founders, Project Wezesha
Lucas Lamek
Lucas Lamek
Oct 12, 2015

All Quiet on the Liberian Front

After the upheaval and turmoil caused by the Ebola epidemic in Liberia, it is a relief to report that our girls are back in their classrooms and quietly resuming their studies.

As you may remember, the Liberian government closed all schools for six months to help contain the disease. In order to get the students back on the traditional schedule, adminstrators decided that the 2014-15 school year would be only one semester long. All students in Liberia -- including the GEI-sponsored girls -- were promoted to the next grade when the 2015-16 school year began this fall.

Time will tell how educators will make up for the lost semester, but our girls are so happy to be back in school and continuing their educations!

If you look at the group shot of the students that accompanies this article, you'll see that many of our girls are actually young women. Their educations have been interrupted many times by civil war, Ebola and other crises, yet they continue to come back to school even though they may be past the traditional age in their classrooms. We think this speaks to the determination these young women have to complete their education in spite of the obstacles they meet. Won't you make a donation to sponsor their studies and help them become the leaders and workers that Liberia desperately needs?  

Sep 10, 2015

Girls Ed Pakistan Summer 2015 Update

Irum with her Grandmother
Irum with her Grandmother

Dear Friends -

As summer comes to a close, our program continues in full swing thanks to your support. Summers in this part of Pakistan are very hot, sometimes passing the 120-degree (F) mark. Our students are typically given a summer break from mid-June to mid-August, but it doesn‘t mean it’s just free time for everyone. Generally, our students in grades 6-8 are already through their annual exam and are in the new class if they have passed. They get loads of homework to do during the two months’ break. Students in grades 9 and 10 have taken exams, but the results have not been announced, so they are free during these vacations while they await word on their scores. Students in 11th to 14th grades are usually busy in their annual exams during these very months.

July is also the breaking of the fast of Ramadan and the beginning of the ‘meethi Eid’, or Sweet Eid festival. This is a time when families reunite, celebrate with food and fun, and infuse a sense of community.

Or colleagues at Bedari have also been very active in the villages during these months, not only supporting the core educational programs, but also delivering the self-growth programs that I mentioned in the last update. They have provided several updates in the past few weeks.

 

Testing Update

First, we have an update on an additional 24 students' national testing: 21 of them appeared for secondary school examination, and 3 of them appeared for graduation level examination.

Secondary School students: 18 girls passed their exams successfully and have moved to the next level, while two failed partially, they would have to reappear for two papers only. They would reappear for the two papers in their supplementary exam. (Supplementary exams are held for those students who fail partially (in one or two subjects), so that they do not have to wait for full one year to reappear.) There is one girl who failed her exam, and has dropped out of our program.

Graduation students:

Three girls appeared for exams; two of them passed successfully, and have moved out of our program. They would be replaced by new girls. One girls has failed two of her papers. She would reappear for the two papers in supplementary exams.

Higher Secondary Students: (Result Awaited)

Higher secondary is a level between secondary and graduation level. Students study for two years at higher secondary level, before they can go for their graduation. 7 of our girls appeared for higher secondary level exams, and their result is still awaited. We expect that their result would be announced in this month.

 

Student Profile

Bedari was also kind enough to provide profiles on a few students that we'll be sharing over the coming months. This time we have a wonderful letter written by a student named Irum (picture with her grandmother attached). We'll let her tell her story in her own words:

 

Hi… I am Irum, I am 14 years old living in remote village named Dharyala Kahoon in district Chakwal (Punjab, Pakistan). We are three siblings – me and my two elder brothers. We were living happily – that is what I remember from my early childhood. I was too young to understand the tricky situation, but I remember everything changed with my father’s death. I was just 3 years old then. I didn’t know what death meant; I was told father would not come home again. He had been taken back by Allah. I didn’t know why Allah needed him. Anyhow, there are so many questions we don’t find answers to them.

We moved to our grandfather’s house. My elder brothers could not cope with the new situation, and one by one both of them ran away, and never returned. In the meanwhile, my mother developed a relationship with another man. As it would not have been accepted here in our society, she decided to marry him secretly, and left the house one night without informing anyone. These incidents, one after the other, were too much for my grandpa. He was distraught, dejected, and heartbroken. Soon he died and his misery ended. It all happened within two years starting with my father’s death, and ending with my grandfather’s.

We were left all at our own – me and my grandmother. I was too young, and she was too old. My grandfather had left a small piece of cultivable land. My grandmother would rent it out, and we would manage our expenses through that small amount. The rent was not good enough as there was no irrigation system, and the yield depended on timely rains.

I went to the village school, which offered classes up to 8th grade. It is a public school with nominal fee, which my grandmother would manage easily. However, when I passed 8th grade, my grandmother told me, ‘Sweetheart! You are mature enough to understand that your old grandma cannot bear the cost of sending you to high school in Dulmial. You know I am too old, I may die any day. I don’t know what you do when you have no one to take care of you. I think I should arrange your marriage as soon as possible’.

I knew I would not be able to go to high school, and I had accepted it as my fate. But I was scared to hear the other plan my grandma had for me. I cried a lot, and got a promise from my grandma that she would not think of my marriage for at least another two years. She agreed, though still she did not know what would be my fate if she died.

In the meanwhile, Bedari arrived in our village with a plan to provide scholarships to girls who had performed well in their education in class 5or above. When I came to know about the details, and asked my grandma to talk to Bedari people, it was too late. They had already selected 31 girls, and would not accommodate more. I was dejected, but they put my name in the waiting list. I waited, waited and waited. One whole year passed like that.

I had lost all hope, and thought my secondary education was a closed chapter. That was when Uncle Tanveer (a member of our village committee) turned up at our home, and told my grandma that a girl had dropped out of Bedari’s project, and they could send Irum to high school. I was overjoyed at the news. Grandma readily agreed, and the next day uncle Tanveer took me to high school. I got admitted, the school administration provided me the books, and uncle Tanveer made arrangements for my pick and drop. It was again Uncle Tanveer who provided me old uniform of his daughter, though it did not fit well, but liked it very much. I receive scholarship amount in the first week of every month.

Now I go to school regularly. I have attended two Self-Growth Sessions, and learnt how to be assertive without being offensive, and how to negotiate with people. I loved that, and would make sure that I do not miss any of these sessions, these are so useful.

And yes, the best thing is … my grandma has not mentioned my marriage since I started going to school.

 

It's wonderful to hear these success stories, and to know that all our efforts are working in the field. I hope you share my excitement about the potential of this program.

On a more sobering note, we have sufficient funding residual from our initial project with Bedari to continue supporting our program through the remainder of this year, but will need to raise some additional funds going into the next school year. Please pass along the word about Girls Ed and our program if you are so inclined - a few informational links are attached.

All the best -

Steve

Links:

 
   

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