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Nov 21, 2017

How a Referral Slip Can Make a Difference

Meet Zainab
Meet Zainab

When Zainab first experienced abdominal pain, she was not aware of her pregnancy. It was only after a BRAC community health promoter (CHP), on a routine visit, handed her a referral slip for a local health center, did Zainab learn: she was having a baby.   

At 20 years old, like many women and adolescent girls living in the poor communities of Freetown, Sierra Leone, Zainab was not ready for her first pregnancy. As the jarring statistics show, Sierra Leone is one of the most unsafe countries for a mother to deliver her baby: 1,360 mothers die for every 100,000 births.

Zainab had never learned to prepare for the unfamiliar signs of pregnancy that she would develop. The sheer lack of resources for low-income women and girls, especially young mothers like Zainab, is one of the many factors that contributes to the high rate of maternal deaths in Sierra Leone.  

Thanks to the support of donors like you, BRAC works to ensure that Zainab and other women like her do not join those statistics. With the referral slip from BRAC in hand, Zainab visited the health facility.

For the first time, she could openly discuss her pregnancy with trained health workers and receive professional advice on how to have a safe delivery. Zainab was given appropriate medication to alleviate her abdominal pain, and she learned that she should eat more nutritious food and avoid physically hurting herself.  

Zainab began visiting the health facility regularly; the staunch support from the BRAC health workers helped her become more confident as her delivery day approached. She also made several important decisions: that she wanted to give birth at the health center, that she would breastfeed, and that she would immunize her baby.

During this time, in collaboration with partners, BRAC also reached more than a thousand youths across ten poor communities in Freetown, as a key implementer of “Pull Slum Pan Pipul,” a program that educates girls and young women about sexual and reproductive health, and equips them with other vocational skills that support sustainable livelihoods.

Zainab didn’t pass up the opportunity.

She joined other community members at the health meetings to continue to learn about sexual and reproductive health. The program’s vocational training also equipped her with specialized skills, including how to prepare specialized ingredients as a chef.

Her newfound knowledge inspired Zainab. After her baby is born, she says she wants to open her own restaurant.

“I will become a successful business woman,” she said.

Nov 21, 2017

I Will Be a Teacher

Students at a BRAC school in Afghanistan
Students at a BRAC school in Afghanistan

For Rozy, education used to be a dream.

When she was a little girl, Rozy’s father passed away. Today, she lives with her mother and sister in Sheberghan City, a small city in the north of Afghanistan.

Rozy’s mother sustains the family by picking up manual labor jobs when she can. This kind of work barely pays enough to live on, and Rozy’s mother struggles to afford the government school fees for her two daughters.

Rozy also has a physical disability, which can be particularly challenging in her small city that lacks comprehensive and inclusive services. Despite these obstacles, Rozy has always yearned for an education. In fact, her aspiration to learn only grew larger in the face of them.

Things changed in 2013, when Rozy turned 12. BRAC started building community-based schools in Rozy’s neighborhood, especially for older girls who had been left out of the government school system. Since the school was free and just a short walk away, Rozy’s mother, understanding the value of education, enrolled her two daughters.

Thanks to contributions from supporters like you, Rozy sat in a classroom for the first time in 2013. She was excited, happy and, most of all, grateful. For her, education was no longer just a dream.

Four years later, as the school year came to a close in 2017, Rozy successfully completed her last year of primary school. Her eagerness to learn remains unchanged, but because there were no government’s middle schools nearby, Rozy did not expect to continue her education.

Fortunately, thanks to your support, BRAC recently started the Girls Education Challenge Transition Window program, which offers secondary, higher secondary and vocational educational training for girls. On October 1, BRAC launched the vocational component, with 40 vocational education centers opening across 40 districts in ten provinces.

“Once again, BRAC came to my support,” Rozy said recently. The news means that she could continue her education and, a few weeks ago, she started sixth grade.

Despite the barriers facing her, Rozy never misses a day of school. Her dream is to complete twelfth grade and become a teacher. She wants to create the opportunities that she has had for other girls who also could not go to school because of economic, social, or other challenges. For Rozy, teaching is not only a profession, but also a way of giving back.

“I will be a teacher, igniting the light of education for the girls living in marginalized context in Afghanistan,” Rozy decided.

Indeed, Rozy has already ignited the girl effect with her inspiring dream.  

Oct 24, 2017

Invest in Farmers for Long-term Resilience

Theresa - one of BRAC program
Theresa - one of BRAC program's participants

Theresa is a subsistence poultry farmer in Liberia. Five years ago, when her husband fell sick and lost his vision, she became the breadwinner for her family of nine children. At the time, she earned her living making charcoal. Devastated by her husband’s decline in health, Theresa went from house to house asking for dirty clothes that she could wash in exchange for money.

“I was dirt in the eyes of the community,” she said. “When you are out of money, people look down on you. I never even had a voice in my community; people neglected me.”

While the country struggles to recover from the devastating shock of the 2014 Ebola outbreak,  most Liberians continue to live on less than $1.25 a day. A shocking 36 percent of the population suffers from malnutrition.

One key way for Liberia’s economy to grow, and for people to break free from the cycle of poverty, is through agriculture and livestock farming. This sector generates many jobs that fit people’s skills and experiences, and contributes to about half of the country’s GDP.

In several weeks, BRAC will implement the next phase of this project, building on its successes: reaching 130,000 Liberians, and reducing food insecurity among more than 12,000. BRAC’s bigger goals, however, are ending hunger, improving food nutrition, and generating sustainable livelihoods for all Liberians.

The project supports vulnerable people across six food-insecure regions of Liberia, at least 65 percent of whom are women. They include women like Theresa.

After she joined BRAC’s program, she learned new and modern poultry rearing technologies. With her new skills, a batch of 20 chickens, and a small enterprise loan from BRAC, she started her own business.

“Through these chickens, my life has changed: I no longer need to wash strangers’ clothes to earn enough money to feed my family,” she said.

Indeed, Theresa now makes $50 a month and has grown her small starter batch of chickens into a modest poultry farm with 83 chickens.

“I am thankful for this poultry livestock project. Now, I know how to continue rearing poultry,” she said.

Currently, about 178 new poultry farmers have joined this program. Yeaneh, a new poultry farmer who just received a batch of 20 chickens from BRAC, couldn’t contain her excitement or hide her ambition.

“I want to become a major egg producer!” she exclaimed.

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