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Sep 20, 2018

Leadership opportunities for Ugandan girls

Secondary school student and her mother
Secondary school student and her mother

This summer, hundreds of Ugandan girls in BRAC’s Mastercard Foundation Scholars program spent their summer developing leadership skills through practical internships and participation in a leadership congress that drew students from across the country.

The Mastercard Foundation Scholars program, a partnership between BRAC and the Mastercard Foundation, identifies bright young students from low-income families who otherwise would not be able to attend secondary school and provides them with comprehensive support and mentorship. Now in its sixth year, the program currently reaches 1600 young Ugandans in over 100 secondary schools.

Scholars receive stipends for tuition, fees, learning materials, and study trips in addition to comprehensive support services such as academic tutoring, psychosocial support, mentorship, and leadership training. They also engage in extracurricular opportunities, including community service, leadership training, summer internships, and events with alumni of the program.

This year, through BRAC’s wide network of local partners, over 400 Scholars were connected with paid internships in Ugandan businesses and nonprofits in order to develop real-world leadership skills and gain practical experience in their fields of interest — an opportunity that most students in the region, particularly girls, do not have.

As summer came to an end, Scholars from across Uganda were invited to the 2018 Leadership Congress, an annual conference for Mastercard Foundation Scholars that draws local leaders from government, businesses, and civil society. Following the theme Empowering Leaders of Social Good, over 1600 Scholars had the opportunity to participate in interactive activities and workshops and learn from experts.

Scholars heard from Dr. John Muyingo, the Ugandan Minister of Higher Education, and a number of young Ugandan social entrepreneurs leading nonprofits, including Ethan Musolini of Success Africa; Esther Kalenzi of 40 Days Over 40 Smiles Foundation; and Brenda Katwesigye of Wazi Vision.

Girls who attended the Leadership Congress left inspired. “I learned you can use anything you have to impact the life of an individual,” said one Scholar. “You can use even your words to make a difference.”

Armed with practical experiences like the summer internship program and the annual Leadership Congress, more than four in five graduates of the Scholars program transition directly into universities, technical and vocational training, and other tertiary education programs. Others transition into full-time employment upon completion of the program.

Thanks to donors like you, the Scholars program has already reached over 5000 young students, with a particular focus on empowering underprivileged girls. We are so grateful for your continued support of education for girls around the world.

Girls in the Scholars program
Girls in the Scholars program

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Aug 8, 2018

Saving lives during monsoon season

Monsoon season has impacted thousands of lives
Monsoon season has impacted thousands of lives

Monsoon season has devastated the lives of Rohingya families living in settlements in Cox's Bazar, Bangladesh. Weather related incidents have claimed one life already and affected over 35,800 people since May.

Our team is working on the ground to mobilize resources, relocate families, treat injuries and prevent further tragedy. Our efforts to repair, build, and secure shelters and other infrastructure are making Cox’s Bazar, and Rohingya families, safer.

Our teams are combining emergency response best-practices with innovative shelter designs to support families most at-risk.

Every day, BRAC front-line staff are relocating dozens of households, who face the highest risk of flooding, to safer areas with disaster-resistant shelters. To date, more than 10,000 people have been relocated to safer shelters.

We are continuing to design and build shelters that can withstand high rains and winds to replace homes perched precariously on ridges and hills in Cox's Bazar. Though rain has slowed our progress, we have repaired 855 shelters that were damaged during the storms and built or upgraded 564 shelters in the past month.

In the world’s largest refugee settlement, inadequate infrastructure can exacerbate the challenges that come with living in an informal settlement. We are working to scale up life-saving infrastructure: This month we placed 210,635 sandbags to protect landslide-prone areas, constructed nine miles of drainage pipes to prevent water-logging, and built 830 feet of bridge to improve accessibility.

None of these life-saving projects would be possible without your help. With every sandbag placed, shelter built, pipe laid, Rohingya families are better equipped for the monsoons and empowered to take life into their own hands. Thanks to your continued support Cox’s Bazar is a safer, stronger, more resilient place.

New infrastructure makes Cox
New infrastructure makes Cox's Bazar a safer place

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Aug 8, 2018

Tomorrow Starts Today

Samuel on site at his apprenticeship
Samuel on site at his apprenticeship

Nepali youth are focused on the future.

More than three years on, as BRAC transitions away from short-term relief to long-term resilience-building in affected communities, your support is helping young people access new opportunities and develop the skills they need to secure meaningful employment.

In a country that has faced historically high youth unemployment, as high as 19 percent in recent years, young people are often forced to migrate in order to find employment. Many youth in Nepal also lack the technical skills required to secure quality jobs that offer a livable wage.

Samuel, an 18-year-old living with his family in Kathmandu, was no different than most Nepalis his age. Faced with the reality that his lack of applicable skills would exclude him from the work force, and hamstrung by his family’s inability to pay for college, Samuel saw few opportunities to provide for his family, let alone focus on his own future.

All that changed when a neighbor recommended BRAC’s skill development program (SDP) to Samuel. SDP places youth in local, on-the-job training programs to learn first-hand the hard and soft skills required for success in a particular trade. Samuel soon began a six-month apprenticeship with a coffee shop owner.

Now, over two months into his apprenticeship, whether he is steaming milk, engaging with customers, or balancing the books, Samuel is building both the technical skills and the soft skills that will help him support himself, his family, and his community.

Equipped with these new skills and a modest savings, Samuel’s professional goal is to open his own coffee shop one day.

Thanks to your continued support, over 150 young people living in poverty in Kathmandu have been paired with responsible businesses for relevant, on-the-job training in trades like jewelry making and mobile phone repair. With their hard-earned skills and resources, these youth are more capable than ever of realizing their full potential.



For photos ©BRAC/ Natalia Atkins

Youth learn from mentors in specialized trades
Youth learn from mentors in specialized trades

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