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Jun 22, 2018

Education and independence for Afghan girls

Girls sewing at BRAC reading center in Afghanistan
Girls sewing at BRAC reading center in Afghanistan

In the Baghlan province of Afghanistan, 17-year-old Kreshma is one of thousands of girls who were once denied access to an education. Afghanistan’s turmoil in the past decade, as well as a complex history of emphasizing boys’ education over girls’, helps explain why 71% of girls are out of school compared to only 28% of boys.

Kreshma grew up without access to an education. Her family saw the benefit of prioritizing immediate needs like household chores, but saw little value in long-term investments like primary education. Like many girls in her community, Kreshma only knew a future in which she would marry at a young age and join her husband's family.

At age seven, that all changed when community leaders, accompanied by local BRAC staff, met with Kreshma’s family to discuss a new, community-based primary school option for girls like her. Soon, she began attending a BRAC primary school.

But after Kreshma completed primary school, it became too difficult to attend the government-run secondary school much further away from her home. She began staying at home again and doing household chores, but her path to education and independence was not over.

In April 2017, BRAC began a project to address this very challenge and expand access to education for marginalized girls. Its goal is to help girls transition effectively from community-based primary schools into government secondary schools, community secondary schools, or technical and vocational education and training (TVET) centers in Afghanistan.

Kreshma and her family soon learned about the post-primary options offered through this project, including debate, tailoring, gardening, and mentorship training—activities that teach girls self-advocacy and independence to promote their future success. More Afghan girls are choosing to become resilient, self-sufficient women with these resources.

Kreshma has been training in tailoring and business skills for five months, and, when she is finished, she will be connected to microloans to start a home business making clothes for women in her community. Thanks to generous donors like you, Kreshma can choose her own fulfilling and independent future.

Kreshma is not alone in her achievements. Your ongoing support has helped enroll 1,659 girls in 40 TVET centers. In addition, 7,675 girls, ages 11-18 years, have transitioned into 263 community-based secondary schools. And to ensure that girls who enroll are able to stay in school, the project provides a school stipend to almost a thousand families.

Through a wide range of education initiatives in 10 provinces, BRAC is improving the quality of education, enhancing access, and maximizing girls’ self-esteem and leadership skills. We are extremely grateful for your continued support in helping us create opportunity for marginalized girls.

Adolescent girl eager to read
Adolescent girl eager to read

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May 11, 2018

3 years after earthquake, Nepal is resilient

Sita at a Kishori club. BRAC/Natalia Atkins
Sita at a Kishori club. BRAC/Natalia Atkins

On April 25, 2015, a devastating earthquake ravaged Nepal. BRAC was quick to respond with immediate aid, including food, shelter, and medical support.

Just over three years later, much of the country is still feeling the impacts of the deadly earthquake. But thanks to the resilience of its people, Nepal is on the road to recovery.

Since the aftermath of the earthquake, BRAC has transitioned from immediate aid to long-term development work that provides Nepalese people with the tools to become agents of change in their communities.

One inspiring young woman named Sita is sparking such change.

At 21-years-old, Sita says she doesn’t want to be married yet, which is rare for a young woman in her community. Instead, she says she wants to inspire and motivate other girls to pursue their dreams. That’s why Sita has become a mentor at one of BRAC’s girls empowerment clubs, also known as Kishori clubs.

Each afternoon, Sita welcomes a group of about 20 adolescent girls from her community into her family’s home. The girls sing, dance, play games, and read books. They socialize, share, and support one another.

Sita’s is one of 20 Kishori clubs that BRAC runs in Nepal. Together, the clubs reach over 430 girls that range from age 11 through 21.

But Kishori clubs are not just a space for girls to play and socialize. They are also a center where girls learn crucial life skills. In Kishori clubs, girls learn about the world around them, disaster preparedness, healthy habits, and their rights and responsibilities in their communities.

In addition, the clubs incorporate life skills training on topics like puberty, sexual and reproductive health, and gender-based violence. In a society where these topics are often considered taboo, Kishori clubs are a safe space for girls to discuss them openly.

Thanks to your donations, Sita, along with hundreds of other adolescent girls in Nepal, have a safe space to learn and grow. Thank you for your continued support!

Sita and friends at her home. BRAC/Natalia Atkins
Sita and friends at her home. BRAC/Natalia Atkins

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May 11, 2018

Monsoon season threatens Rohingya families

Rohingya families arrive in Cox
Rohingya families arrive in Cox's Bazar.

Monsoon season is underway in Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh, where the world’s largest makeshift city is home to over one million forcibly displaced Rohingya people.

On May 1, over 100 shelters in the settlements were damaged in just a single hour of heavy rainfall. Large pools of stagnant water have already begun to form, and these wet conditions are a breeding ground for mosquitoes and disease.

Storms have battered many regions across Bangladesh for the past three weeks, and the Bangladesh Meteorological Department and the University of Columbia predict that conditions in Cox’s Bazar will continue to worsen – as they already have in the rest of the country.

As a result, thousands of Rohingya families and members of the host community are increasingly vulnerable to flooding, landslides, and disease outbreak over the next three months.

BRAC is working around the clock to relocate families to safer areas, build and repair disaster-resilient shelters, stock up on supplies, and build its capacity to respond to the weather-related shocks that are predicted to accelerate in the upcoming months.

We have prepared a buffer stock of medicinal supplies to serve an initial 5,000 people if outbreaks of diarrheal disease, dysentery, typhoid, or water-borne diseases occur. Oral Rehydration Therapy corners have been set up in each of our primary health care centers, and three Mobile Medical Teams are preparing to deal with any type of medical emergency that may arise.

In addition to preparing for the monsoon season, BRAC also continues to scale up its existing relief efforts. With over 1,600 staff and hundreds more volunteers, BRAC is working to improve lives in all 14 camps and makeshift settlements in the region.

BRAC works with both Rohingya communities and local host communities through programs in primary, child, and maternal health care; education; protection and psychosocial support; water and sanitation; shelter; agriculture; and food and nutrition.

Since we began relief work last year, over 1.3 million patients have received consultations through 60 healthcare centers and satellite clinics, almost 95,000 children have been screened for malnutrition, and nearly 50,000 children are registered in child friendly spaces.

Thanks to your generous contributions, we will continue to scale up our relief efforts and prepare for further shocks as monsoon season approaches. We are grateful for your continued support.

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