Send 60 Girls in Pakistan to School

by Girls Education International
Send 60 Girls in Pakistan to School
Send 60 Girls in Pakistan to School
Send 60 Girls in Pakistan to School
Send 60 Girls in Pakistan to School
Send 60 Girls in Pakistan to School
Send 60 Girls in Pakistan to School
Girls Playing Sports
Girls Playing Sports

Greetings Girls Ed Pakistan Supporters,

Girls Ed is a small but mighty organization, and we only grow stronger. During this past year, we have worked as a small board of directors to strengthen the organization through intentional and reflective strategic planning. Among many positive outcomes of recent organizational exercises, we have established a core set of pillars to guide our work and we have refined many of our processes and procedures to foster the sustainable growth of Girls Ed.

Growing the Board of Directors

We are currently interviewing for two open positions on the board – Pakistan Project Manager and Member at Large.  We expect to be able to introduce these new board members very soon. In the meantime, we recently welcomed Loni Riley as our new (returning) Treasurer and Lauren Sadler as our new Communications Director. We are thrilled to be adding to our team and look forward to the synergy as we move forward with the next phases of our strategic plan, which include a focus on fundraising efforts and donor relations.

Updates from the Chakwal District

We continue to support 60 girls in Tehsil Talagang of the Chakwal Punjab district in Pakistan. This past year was challenging in many ways due to the pandemic. Across Pakistan, schools closed down and families faced difficult times. With girls out of school, families became concerned about what the girls would do while out of school; some were concerned about pressures to marry.

Girls Ed worked with our partner organization, Bedari to explore alternatives to formal schooling. We shifted our budget to support programs such as local sports competitions, self-defense training, and counseling sessions to keep them positive and motivated during this uncertain time. (See photos of girls in action!) This summer, the Punjab government school association announced a one-month summer camp for 9th and 10th grade students to account for some of the missed schooling during the pandemic. Girls in grades 6 through 8 are engaged in a one-month vocational training program through the end of July.

Grade Level Distribution

Despite the break in schooling, all girls will take examinations at their respective grade levels. Below is the 2021 distribution of girls in our program by grade. We wish them all success so they may advance to the next levels.

  • 2 girls will complete the grade 6 examinations
  • 8 girls will complete the grade 7 examinations
  • 5 girls will complete the grade 8 examinations
  • 13 girls will complete the grade 9 examinations
  • 28 girls will complete the grade 10 examinations
  • 2 girls will complete the grade 11 examinations
  • 1 girl will complete the grade 12 examinations

Nadia Gets Married – A Time for Reflection

While 59 of the girls in our program did not marry in the past year, one student named Nadia did. Her support will be shifted to a new girl. Bedari shared Nadia's story with us as an example of how life impacts girls differently, highlighting the importance of continued awareness raising and advocacy for girls' access to education globally.

Nadia is 17 years old and comes from the village of Sadiq Abad. She is in the 10th grade. Nadia stayed out of school for two years after completing 8th grade, because her father could not afford to pay for her studies. Bedari stepped in and offered to support her transportation through this Girls Ed partnership, so her father agreed to send her back to school. Nadia was excited to join school again and performed well in 9th grade. In addition to her studies, she enjoys writing poetry and articles in Urdu.

Unfortunately, the pandemic resulted in heavy economic consequences for her family. Her father had to borrow money to support his family but was unable to repay his debt. He made the decision to marry his daughter to the lending family as repayment. According to Bedari, it is common practice to give daughters to manage or avoid disputes. Nadia was not happy with this decision and wanted to complete her education.

Members of the Bedari staff visited the family and discussed the matter with her father many times, however, he was convinced to marry her off as soon as possible to get rid of the debt. He argued that it was legal for her to marry since she was above 16 years of age. Bedari requested that she be allowed to complete her education. Her father said that her husband has committed to help her complete the education and bear the expenses. Bedari plans to stay in touch with her; however, they acknowledge that it is unlikely, given expected gender roles of newly married women, that she will continue her studies. Still … we can hope for a different path for her.

Although this is not the outcome we would have imagined for Nadia, the staff at Bedari believe that Nadia has developed a sense of bravery and determination from her studies that will help her to self-advocate in her marriage and in her community so that she has a brave space in which to thrive and support her future children. Nadia’s case prompts us all to reflect on the challenge facing girls today – in 2021. The struggle continues for a world in which all girls can have equal access to education and the right to make their own decisions about their lives. Together with Bedari and you, we will continue to enact our mission and strive to eliminate the gender equality gap.

Please share our work with your network. We believe that in time, as more and more young women are educated in Pakistan, the tides will turn and women will have increased opportunities to make decisions about their futures. 

With gratitude, 

The Girls Ed Team

Girls Group Photo at Game Competition
Girls Group Photo at Game Competition
Nadia
Nadia
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I heard recently someone say, real queens fix each other's crowns. So I've been thingking a lot about how do we raise young women who can enjoy healhty competition yet support each other's brilliance, determination, good luck, beauty even? How can we convince each other that collectively we all do better if there are more women that get to make choices without judgmenet from outside, that feel supported, that can inhale deeply knowing that they are truly loved. 

Every woman I know has looked behind her back when walking alone in the dark, has taken a longer route, has pretended to be on a phone, has looked down to avoid a stare, has pretended to be shopping, has made up an excuse to leave early because she was scared, has smiled uncomfortably at unwanted attention. As a fellow woman, friend, mother, daughter, neighbor, I don't want to tell another woman to not walk home alone. I believe if we collectively support each other and believe each other's experiences and stories, the rest of the world will have no choice but do the same. 

Building self reliance, confidence and strength is not an easy task especially if the society tells us to be submissive, quiet, soft and weak. However, your kind and generous support assures the young women in Pakistan that they have allies in the form or women and men that beliave in them, that support them, that assure them in the necessity to build each other up and fix each other's crowns if need be. Because when women support each other, incredible things happen.

Thank you for your continous support and happy spring to you!

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Our dedicated supporter,

We hope you ease into this new season of cooler temperatures, political instability and continuous Covid cases with grace and optimism for better days ahead of us. I wanted to send you this uplifting update from our partners in Pakistan summarizing the last few months in the lives of young women there.

First great news is that all the girls that GEI supports, which at present are 43 girls from 5 villages, are back in school! Because of Covid Pandemic schools remained closed from March to September, 2020. There was fear that many girls would not come back due to family pressures, but everyone is back. Due to Covid, some exams were conducted while others got cancelled. For the girls whose exams were cancelled, their previous grades were used and they moved ahead in their studies.

During the lockdown our partners at Bedari remained in touch with the girls who have shared their health & psychological issues including financial problems of their families with them. Bedari team did telephonic counseling with them to ease some of the concerns. Also during this time withe GEI's support, a very successful 2 day training was conducted with participants from all 5 villages. The main purpose of the workshop was to speak with the girls about self-awareness. Other topics covered included sex and gender issues, self defense, life future planning, etc.  During the training, a session on self-protection was organized for the girls by engaging a Martial Art’s trainer (who herself is a young woman studying in Grade 12 in Chakwal city). Many questions emerged from the training, which created much needed conversations with the facilitators.   I want to share some of the quesitons that emerged from the students at the workshop:

  • Why parents don’t have a friendly environment with their daughters?
  • How to treat infections at home due to lack of personal hygiene?
  • What should we do if we feel harassed by our relatives?
  • Parents always think opposite of what we think about our lives. How do we tell the parents about our happiness? 
  • What to do when our elders don’t understand our emotions when we get angry and they call us rude?
  • How to make good friends?
  • Is breaking an engagement a sin like getting divorced? 

I belive asking the right questions is the first step toward finding the answers. We hope GEI and Bedari collectively use these questions to guide us toward providing the young women in Pakistan with what they need, with the aim of bettering and empowering their lives. 

Finally I want to leave you with a story of one of our students from a remote village area of Sadiqabad. It took long time for a 14 year old Sadia to convince her brothers and parents to allow her to ride a bike, which is largely unexceotable for the women in her area. She was finally able to gain their support. She writes:

... my 4-year old youngest brother had to be vaccinated. My brothers and father were not home and my mother was ill. In this disturbing situation, I put my little brother on a bicycle without any hesitation and took him with me for vaccination. Many times I used to ask my brothers if I could use thier bicycles but they always said no. After this incident and seeing my dedication towards doing outdoor household chores by using bicycle as convenience, my family has somehow accepted that girls can also ride the bicycle and can do all the activities that boys can do. I think my bold step has broken the society’s social barriers at least in my village. I believe that I am no more an ordinary girl who is just restricted to the household chores, in fact I feel empowered like any other person in the society who can achieve anything irrespective of the gender discrimination".

Indeed better days are ahead of us.  

 

With Kindest Regards, we thank you for you continuous support

Pakistan Project Leader - Tamrika Khvtisiashvili 


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Dear supporters, as the world unfolds in new and unexpected ways Girls Ed International and our partner in Pakistan are also facing novel situations. We don't have all the answers and solutions to the possible troubles but we do know that we are committed to standing by our partner in Pakistan, Bedari, and offering our support during those difficult times.

At the moment in Pakistan COVID19 cases are spreading rapidly and governments across the provinces are enforcing social distancing guidelines. In response to the outbreak, schools closed in Mid March. There is no clear information when schools will reopen. Most of the exams that our girls in grades 8-12 were scheduled to take to graduate or move to the next level have been postponed indefinitely. There is no online education system for the students of government schools. Government started some classes/lectures on Pakistan Television (PTV)  but this has not been too effective because in remote areas there is no provision of electricity. For examples Kot Shamas and Pather are the areas of Sadiqabad where there is no electricity and many of our GEI students are from these areas. On top of that, in areas where there is electricity, in most of the houses, there is no television. Needless to say, GEI girls belong to poor families. Poverty has only increased due to COVID 19. The daily wagers are in financial crisis as they have no stock of food items and money to fulfill the necessities of daily life. In these types of situations, parents consider the burden of girls. The early marriage possibilities become a reality quickly. 

As the response, together with Bedari, we believe it is necessary to engage girls as much as possible in healthy activities. They need to know that their formal education will be a reality again and staying engaged is a pathway to that. We are in the process of identifying these stimulating activities and hope to make a difference in lives of those young women, perhaps in times when they need us the most. We will keep you posted as the ideas get finalized and become more concrete. We can't do this without you, our supporters, so we thank you from the bottom of our hearts.

 

 

 

 

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Nadia (alias) comes from the village of Dhulli in the District of Chakwal. Her family financially is not well off. She has seven sisters, none of which were able to complete their education. Nadia loves to study and even though she was taken out of school in 8th grade, Girls Educational International is happy to say that she is back in school, now in 10th grade. GEI covers her transportation costs to and from school, which is approximately $70.00 a year. 

Javeria (alias) is also from the same district, but a village a bit further out. She is 14 years old. Although she was set to get married, after expressing interest in her studies, we are happy to learn that her wedding was called off. She is currently in 9th grade. Girls Education International is delighted to cover the fees of enrolling her back in school.  Because of her village's proximity, her transportation costs are about $100 a year. 

These and similar stories are what keep our small team at Girls Education motivated and excited to have this opportunity in the first place, to reach young people in some of the most marginalized groups of society. 

It is our pleasure on this International Day of Women to highlight our partnership with Pakistan organization Bedari that facilitates our support of 60 young women from five different villages. If we, together with your help, couldn't provide help with their transportation to and from school from their remote villages, these and other young women would possibly have very different paths in life, usually picked out for them and often against their will. So, thank you!

We wish you, our supporters, a beautiful Women's Day this year. We hope it is filled with smart, creative, interesting and beautiful women in your personal lives. Women that have a choice to make their own decisions, good and the bad ones. Enjoy them, support them and love them. And please remember that you have touched lives of other young women who also appreciate you and are forever grateful for your kindness and your understanding that supporting one girl, supports men, women and the entire community we all live in, this beautiful yet fragile planet that we all call home. 

Thank you!

Tamrika

 

 


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Organization Information

Girls Education International

Location: Boulder, CO - USA
Website:
Facebook: Facebook Page
Twitter: @girlsed
Project Leader:
Tamrika Khvtisiashvili
Boulder, CO United States
$50,945 raised of $75,000 goal
 
954 donations
$24,055 to go
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