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?
Dear Girls Education International Supporters,
We are happy to report renewed success of our students, despite the Ebola Outbreak.
During the Ebola outbreak in Liberia, communication with the GEI-sponsored girls was spotty, so we were delighted to receive their report cards, photos and letters back in May. The girls have settled into their school routines and are doing well in their classes, but their letters about the Ebola outbreak are heartbreaking.
Jennet, a tenth-grader, wrote “It was very hard for people to shake each other’s hand because people was afraid of that disease (Ebola)... some people lost their entire families.” Abigail, whose parents are health-care workers and dealt with the virus first-hand, let us know that “... many people lost their lives, many mothers lose their children, many husbands lose their wife and many wifes lose their husband.” Unlike many who worked in the hospitals and clinics, her parents both survived. And eleventh-grader Florence, who lives in the St. Paul’s Bridge community, wrote of “...parents who abandoned their own family members due to the risk of the disease ... (which has) left some children without parents.” Some homes, she noted, were simply locked and abandoned.
But with the opening of the schools in March, some normalcy has returned to Liberia and according to the report cards from the new semester, the girls are doing well in their studies. Only one student -- whose grade average fell to 78% -- is being tutored after school in order to continue to qualify for the Girls Ed scholarship.
We are amazed that more of our students haven’t struggled with their schoolwork, considering the devastation, sadness and academic challenges that Ebola brought. We are so proud of our girls for jumping back into their classes and for their determination to succeed. With your continued help, these young women will become the future leaders of a country that faces an uncertain future.
GEI Board Member & Liberia Project Manager
In mid-February, Liberian schools cautiously and systematically re-opened after the worst Ebola crisis in the country’s history. The resumption was not without hiccups, but by mid-March, all of the Girls Ed students were back in school. Classes will run through the summer and fall, possibly switching the Liberian annual school start date to January or February for the foreseeable future.
The last case of Ebola in Liberia was reported in late March, which indicates the end of the outbreak there. Now the exhausted country looks towards the tasks of re-building its economy, infrastructure and especially Liberia’s fragile health care system, which lost many health care workers to the disease.
Before Ebola, many of our girls were interested in all sorts of professions, including doctors, nurses, geologists, teachers, accountants, lawyers, and even a gospel singer. As Liberia recovers economically from the epidemic, it will need an educated workforce to re-build.
While education has always been crucial in Liberia, it has become critical to the country’s recovery from Ebola. Today your contributions to Girls Ed in Liberia take on even more importance: an educated Liberian girl will not only lift herself and her family out of poverty, but her country as well. Won’t you invest in our girls right now? Thank you so much!
Dear Girls Ed Liberia Project Donors and Supporters,
As you know, the deadly outbreak of Ebola in West Africa is centered in three countries: Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia. Fortunately, the spread of Ebola in Liberia seems to be slowing and President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf announced recently that "we want to have zero cases by Christmas." While Ebola could certainly flare up again at any time, this is good news for a country that has been hard hit by the epidemic.
But the best news for all of us? The Girls Ed students in Liberia and their families are all healthy! Our in-country partner Liberia Now has been instrumental in distributing home sanitation kits, re-opening their medical clinic and keeping tabs on our girls, and we can't thank them enough for jumping in to help curb the epidemic.
In an effort to keep Ebola from spreading, Liberian schools have been closed since July and will not be re-opened until at least February 2015. This means every single child's education has come to a standstill. Liberia's educational system was just recovering from years of civil war, and literacy rates there are already low.
There is a concern that the longer Liberian schools stay closed, the more students will drop out. Teenaged girls, who often take over for mothers who are ill or have died, are most at risk of never resuming their education. (See the attached article for more information). Our hope is that if we continue to support our girls' education, they will be able to come back when schools re-open.
With the holiday season upon us, we ask you to consider a gift to the GEI Liberia project. With your generous support, our educated girls will make a much bigger contribution to their country's recovery from Ebola's devastation.
Dear Girls Ed Liberia Project Supporters,
The girls are in a break from their studies at this time, but, our in country partner, Liberia Now, has an exciting and educational summer planned for them!
The Liberia Now staff will be there for two weeks. During this time, all of our scholarship recipients will be participating in two camps, a sports camp and a reading/writing camp. We think these events will provide the girls with additional learning opportunities as well as some fun times! We will share photos from the camps in our next project update.
We so appreciate your continued support which enables events like these camps to take place. Please spread the word among your friends and colleagues about our girls and the challenges that can be overcome through our combined efforts.
With much appreciation,
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