Christmas message from Educare Fund It gives me great pleasure to have this opportunity to communicate with you again on behalf of Educare Fund. I would like to extend our gratitude to all our donors for all your support during what has turned out to be a very successful fundraising year for Educare Fund. Thanks to your kind support we are looking forward to an increase in the number of girls who will receive support from Educare Fund in 2014. In January the total number of girls will increase to 45. As already indicated, with your help, we will start to pay for book hire for years 8 to 10 as well as help pay for books for students in years 11 and 12 who do not have access to book hire. The latter will get their books paid for with the proviso that the books are left at the school when the girls finish. This way the books can, as far as possible, be used by other students in subsequent years. All the students on our list will receive assistance with funds toward stationery purchase. We hope that this will further reduce the financial burden that poorer families have to bear in to their kids through to the end of high school. My current visit to Lesotho has enabled me to get feedback from local individuals with a connection to Educare Fund. The conversations I have had further emphasise the importance of continuing the work of educational support for the girls in Lesotho. Mampe was supported by Educare Fund in 1998 and 1999. She had 5 siblings, 4 of whom were at high school at that time. One parent was working while the other was not in paid employment. An older sibling had completed high school (paid for by the family). She had gone on to university level education with the help of a government loan and was now starting a postgraduate programme. For her to secure further government funding, she and the family had to first pay off the loan for her undergraduate studies. The result was that paying school fees for the other children including Mampe became a big struggle. Mampe was laid off school several times because of non-payment of fees (this is a common occurrence for children from poorer families). With support from Educare Fund Mampe finished high school and went on to university. She now works in a government department and is able to support other people in both her own and her husband’s family. 10 or more people currently benefit from her success. Mampe is a strong supporter of girl education and volunteers time to help Ithuteng Basetsana Educare Association, a local charity working with Educare Fund. She feels that good education enables girls from poor families to avoid such things as being married off at an early age. Local custom requires the payment of a bride price (Lobola), which means for some poor families, girl children may be seen as a possible source of income. Better education, in Mampe’s view also empowers the girls to become independent strong adults with the ability to make appropriate decisions about their own lives and those of their offspring. She believes that without support from Educare Fund she would most likely have been pushed into an early marriage and would probably be in a low paid job with no chance of supporting anyone else. I also had a conversation with one of the schools’ principals who knows firsthand what difficulties poorer families run into in their struggle to secure a good education for their kids. Although his is a low fee school (+/- £65 per year), some parents still find it difficult to raise the money for the fees. It is part of his job to lay off school those children with fees outstanding. In his own words, he does this when absolutely unavoidable and always with a heavy heart. Wherever possible he tries to find funding for these kids and feels that the support that Educare Fund provides makes a huge difference to the children, freeing them from worry about being laid off school. This was confirmed by one of the school’s ex-students who obtained a very good first class pass at GCSE level and is now applying to do an international baccalaureate with a view to continuing on to degree level. The principal also said that working with Educare Fund has inspired him to explore ways in which he could help support these young people. The consensus is that the support for the young women makes a huge difference to them and is very highly appreciated by the girls, the schools and the families. In my view this is the green light for all of us involved in this project to carry on. I would like to take this opportunity to thank you all for supporting Educare Fund in this project and to wish you all the very best for this festive season. I sincerely hope that you will continue to help educate the girls in Lesotho.
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