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
Some of the girls in Hattar village
Some of the girls in Hattar village

As summer comes to a close, we bring good news from our Pakistan program on three fronts: final testing results from the Spring; a personal story from one of our graduates, Rabia; and a wonderful matching opportunity from the Safer World fund. Thanks again to our partner on the ground in Pakistan, Bedari, for all they do.

 

Testing Update

For the 2016 school year, all the 101 girls appeared for exams. Their results are as follows:

35 girls appeared for exams of grade 6 and 7, and all of them passed their exams; 21 girls appeared for exams for 8th grade, and passed their exam successfully.

25 girls appeared for the secondary exams, and all of them passed. One girl got married, and did not appear for her exam. This year Aiman achieved the highest marks at the secondary level exams. She secured 884 marks out of 1050 possible. We are sure that she will receive the prize announced by the government of Punjab. The cash prize is Pak Rs 27,000 (US $ 270). The government is quite slow in releasing the amounts. So she may actually receive this amount in 2017. Furthermore, this makes her eligible for fee waiver if she studies at any government college for her grades 11th and 12th.

Previous year, two girls – Sundas and Uzma– had secured over 70 % marks in their annual secondary exams. They both have recently received Rs 27,000 each from the government of Punjab, and they have been promised that the fee they have paid in the past one year would be reimbursed by the government.

There were 11 girls who appeared for their 11th grade exam; their resulted is awaited. Only 3 girls appeared for the higher secondary level annual exam (12th grade). Their result has not been announced yet. There were another 3 girls who should have appeared for higher secondary exams, but they dropped out. Two girls appeared for BA exam (14th grade or graduation) – one has passed while the other girl would have to appear again for two papers.

Iqra’s parents wanted to marry her off at the age of 14 back in 2016. Bedari had intervened back then, and convinced them to put her back in school with Bedari’s support. They agreed, and she got admission. Now she has completed her secondary education, and she is 16 years old. Her parents do not want her to continue her education, and Bedari is talking to them once again. It may not succeed this time, but we have managed to delay her marriage by 2 years. Pakistan law allows girls to get married at the age of 16 years.

 

Rabia’s Story

“The sole purpose of women is to do household chores and raise children. Their education is rather pointless.” I grew up listening to these words. I grew up watching my mother harvesting crops and grazing the cattle. Whenever my parents would have an argument, my maternal grandfather was the only one with enough power to put an end to the fight.  Although, my father was strictly against girls going out of the village for education; due to my grandfather’s influence I was able to get admission in school. Despite many hardships, I was able to pass matric, being the first girl in the family to do so.

One evening, I found out about Bedari launching an education project in our village. After convincing my father, I was able to get admission in first year (11th grade) in a college in Kalar Kahar. I managed to complete two more years of education, and Bedari agreed to continue supporting me as long as I wanted. So I got admission in the 3rd year (13th grade).

Once while looking through the daily newspaper in our college, I came across a job opportunity in a government organization ‘Sweet Home’ providing shelter and care to orphans. They were in need of a local level coordinator and I fit their criteria perfectly.

I was aware that mentioning this to my family would be a bad idea; I would never get permission for a job and I may even be stopped from going to college. Hence, I did not consult anyone from my family and instead referred to Bedari’s program officer. She motivated me immensely and told me how to tackle the issue of dealing with my parents.  I applied for the job and on the day of my interview, following the program officer’s guidelines, I told my parents to pray that I get this job. My father was enraged and stated that a daughter’s earning was “haram” (something banned by religion like alcohol is haram) for him. Upon hearing this, I made him realize how I worked in the fields and grazed the cattle and how that was also my earning. I made him realize that if that wasn’t “haram” for him then earning from the work of my liking wouldn’t be “haram” for him either. Noticing that my father was quiet now, I told him how this was just an interview and that the job wasn’t confirmed yet; but working was my passion and if I had his blessings, I would definitely get the job. He finally gave his nod, and prayed for my success.

After the interview, I started waiting for the offer letter from the organization. It took some time but finally it arrived. One day when I returned from my college, my father congratulated me and handed me the letter. I cried … I had tears of joy in my eyes. I had not only earned a job in sweet homes but also my father’s trust. I have got a very good paying job, but that does not mean I am discontinuing my education. The only difference is that now I do not need financial support from Bedari. I have informed them, so that they can replace me by putting another girl in school.

My job, the love from my parents and the trust received from Bedari beautified my personality. I am happy that I had attended the Self Growth Sessions arranged by Bedari. They gave me lots of confidence, and negotiating skills, which helped me negotiate with my father for my education first, and for my job later.

Thank you, Bedari!

 

 

Safer World Fund Match

Girl’s Ed is thrilled to announce that we have been selected as a participant in the matching gift program for the Safer World Fund. Administered through Global Giving, this fund grants a 50% match to all donations for a limited period, so if you are considering a new or increased gift, now is the time!

 

Many thanks!

Steve Murchie
Pakistan Project Lead
Girls Ed Board Chair (acting)

Rabia
Rabia
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Girls at the Rohtas Fort
Girls at the Rohtas Fort

The highlight for this report is that 56 girls in our group appeared for their annual exams, and all passed and were advanced to the next level. These students were all in the 6th through 8th grade. Exams for the older students have also been held, but results won't be announced until later in the summer. We'll be able to provide the final update in our next report.

Bedari, our partner in Pakistan executing the program, has scaled back on some of the extracurricular programs in lieu of academics only, out of a concern for sufficient finances to carry our students through the year. We hope that we can raise some additional funding to support the non-academic parts of the program, as the girls really enjoy the diversity and it adds significantly to their worldview and well-being. As the photo accompanying this report shows, excursions such as the ones we reported on back in March bring a lot of joy to the educational process.

On a positive note, we're seeing a growth in donors from outside the US, thanks in large part to our colleagues here at Global Giving in the UK. With a number of promotions supported by donor challenge-matches, we're getting a lot more visibility beyond our normal borders. Thanks to everyone who has recently joined our cause.

Bedari had some challenges over the past few months migrating and updating their website, but the new site is up, stable and has lots of good information. For those of you who would like to follow their programs directly, I've included their website link below. As we may have mentioned, Bedari's new executive director is our dear friend Safeer Ullah Khan, who has been point contact on our program from the beginning. We've been so happy to see him fitting right into these new responsibilities.

 

All the best -

Steve Murchie
Denver, CO USA

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Girls playing outside Katas Raj Temple
Girls playing outside Katas Raj Temple

It's been an eventful few months since our last update. Not only has our partner in Pakistan -- Bedari -- launched an exciting new aspect to the girls' educational curriculum, but we've had a number of new funding opportunities emerge as well.

Exposure Visits Update

In our last update, we described a new addition to the educational programming for our students: exposure visits, or as we called them when I was growing up: field trips. An incredibly powerful part of early education, these exposure visits help the students experience the world, learn some history and science, and marvel at the options that life might offer them. Not surprisingly, the first event was a success, and Bedari hopes to be able to do many more.

In the first outing, the girls, staff, volunteers and chaperones -- 94 people in all -- visited the Khewra Salt Mines, the Katas Raj Temples, and the Kallar Kahar Lake. In the second outing, a smaller group of 36 visited Rohtas Fort.

The trip made a very strong impression on the girls, many of whom have never left their own village. In the words of one of the girls, Masooma Arshad:

My brother had gone on a trip to Islamabad, and he told me so many stories when he came back. I wished I could go too. Today I am so happy; I would go back and tell him so many stories. The best part of the trip was the travel. We sang so many songs, we sang so loud. It was such a liberating experience.

For many more details of the visits and the girls' reactions, please visit the Bedari site: http://www.bedari.org.pk/first-time-in-their-lives-girls-go-out-on-exposure-trip.

 

Global Giving UK Matching Funds

As you are no doubt aware, Global Giving is the primary fundraising channel for all Girls Education International programs. To our surpise and delight, Global Giving's UK operation has been working with a number of sponsors on matching programs for donations made through the UK site. We just concluded a match program called We Believe in Pakistan, and while we didn't perform as well as we'd like, it is one of our first outreach efforts to the UK community. We believe this is just the beginning of a new relationship with UK donors. 

As a matter of fact, a new matching program just started on March 7 -- in preparation for International Women's Day on March 8 -- as we're once again a participant. If you are inclined to recognize the Day, please donate at Global Giving UK's 2016 We Believe in Girls Campaign. There are  £12,000 of available matching funds, with special bonuses going to organizations raising the most in total, and from the most donors. It's a great way to leverage your contributions. 

 

New Corporate Sponsor

Also through Global Giving UK, we were selected to be the recipient of a creative gift from a new corporate sponsor called Shoes by Shaherazad, a startup shoe designer in the UK who has pledged a portion of profits from sales to several organizations including Girls Ed. We're very excited about this program and look forward to hearing and sharing more from the principals.

 

In closing, the new year has brought a lot of hope for the continued success of our program. We still have a lot of work to do to raise the funds needed to sustain the program and extend into new areas like the exposure visits, but with your help we know we can keep the vision alive. Please spread the word of our program, and help grow our contributor base.

 

Thank you, as always, for your support.

 

Steve Murchie
Denver, CO, USA

Girls at Kallar Kahar Lake
Girls at Kallar Kahar Lake
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Tanveer Iqbal
Tanveer Iqbal

As the year comes to a close, we don't have a lot of news to report from the field. The girls are continuing their studies and our partner on the ground (Bedari) continues to refine the program. In the past we mentioned a tract that was added to augment the scholastic aspect of the program: a series of women's self-growth (health and social education) workshops. These have very successful and have kept the level of engagement in the program very high. 

After some experimentation in the field, Bedari has requested permission - which we granted - to substitute some of the workshops with "exposure" trips, where the girls are escorted to locations outside their immediate villages. We'll hear more about these in the coming months, but they have been welcomed by the girls, their families and communities.

It cannot be overstated how important family support has been in making this program a success. We have seen evidence in our both our first and current projects that our investment merely helps overcome inertia, and once the educational cycle begins, families and communities work hard to keep it going. For perspective on this, we heard from Tanveer Iqbal, relative of a student in our program in the village of Dharyala Kahoon who has taken a leadership role in the community-based organization providing support:

 

I am living a retired life here in my village. I served Pakistan Army for around 25 years. I receive pension from government. I had plenty of free time, and was looking for ways to make good use of it. Bedari provided me a very good opportunity. They had established a Community Based Organization (CBO), which was working for the protection of children from violence and abuse, and providing support to girls who wanted to continue their education up to secondary level. I decided to join the CBO, and contribute to the welfare of children, and girls’ education.

I knew of so many parents who wanted to send their girls to high school, but could not do so because of financial constraints. We enlisted such girls, and provided the list to Bedari staff. They visited the girls, met with their parents, and checked the status of their daughters’ education.

They announced a scholarship program for girls who wanted to continue their education up to secondary level. Our CBO volunteers worked really hard to convince girls and their parents. Our efforts bore fruit, and we are glad that our share in the Bedari’s Girls Education Program is the highest. Bedari is providing scholarship to 100 girls, and 31 of them are from our village. We are really proud of this achievement.

We are grateful to Bedari, and pray that Allah may give it strength to expand this program to every village in our district. Girls education will sure transform our villages. 

 

We're very grateful for the support of the girls' families and local communities, the tremendous work done by Bedari, and our donors who help make this possible. We remain firm believers that it is only through continued educational choices that these young girls will grow to achieve all that they are capable of.

We hope that as you contemplate charitable giving at year-end, you'll consider making an additional investment in Girls Education International. 

Best wishes for the holiday season and the New Year --

Steve

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Irum with her Grandmother
Irum with her Grandmother

Dear Friends -

As summer comes to a close, our program continues in full swing thanks to your support. Summers in this part of Pakistan are very hot, sometimes passing the 120-degree (F) mark. Our students are typically given a summer break from mid-June to mid-August, but it doesn‘t mean it’s just free time for everyone. Generally, our students in grades 6-8 are already through their annual exam and are in the new class if they have passed. They get loads of homework to do during the two months’ break. Students in grades 9 and 10 have taken exams, but the results have not been announced, so they are free during these vacations while they await word on their scores. Students in 11th to 14th grades are usually busy in their annual exams during these very months.

July is also the breaking of the fast of Ramadan and the beginning of the ‘meethi Eid’, or Sweet Eid festival. This is a time when families reunite, celebrate with food and fun, and infuse a sense of community.

Or colleagues at Bedari have also been very active in the villages during these months, not only supporting the core educational programs, but also delivering the self-growth programs that I mentioned in the last update. They have provided several updates in the past few weeks.

 

Testing Update

First, we have an update on an additional 24 students' national testing: 21 of them appeared for secondary school examination, and 3 of them appeared for graduation level examination.

Secondary School students: 18 girls passed their exams successfully and have moved to the next level, while two failed partially, they would have to reappear for two papers only. They would reappear for the two papers in their supplementary exam. (Supplementary exams are held for those students who fail partially (in one or two subjects), so that they do not have to wait for full one year to reappear.) There is one girl who failed her exam, and has dropped out of our program.

Graduation students:

Three girls appeared for exams; two of them passed successfully, and have moved out of our program. They would be replaced by new girls. One girls has failed two of her papers. She would reappear for the two papers in supplementary exams.

Higher Secondary Students: (Result Awaited)

Higher secondary is a level between secondary and graduation level. Students study for two years at higher secondary level, before they can go for their graduation. 7 of our girls appeared for higher secondary level exams, and their result is still awaited. We expect that their result would be announced in this month.

 

Student Profile

Bedari was also kind enough to provide profiles on a few students that we'll be sharing over the coming months. This time we have a wonderful letter written by a student named Irum (picture with her grandmother attached). We'll let her tell her story in her own words:

 

Hi… I am Irum, I am 14 years old living in remote village named Dharyala Kahoon in district Chakwal (Punjab, Pakistan). We are three siblings – me and my two elder brothers. We were living happily – that is what I remember from my early childhood. I was too young to understand the tricky situation, but I remember everything changed with my father’s death. I was just 3 years old then. I didn’t know what death meant; I was told father would not come home again. He had been taken back by Allah. I didn’t know why Allah needed him. Anyhow, there are so many questions we don’t find answers to them.

We moved to our grandfather’s house. My elder brothers could not cope with the new situation, and one by one both of them ran away, and never returned. In the meanwhile, my mother developed a relationship with another man. As it would not have been accepted here in our society, she decided to marry him secretly, and left the house one night without informing anyone. These incidents, one after the other, were too much for my grandpa. He was distraught, dejected, and heartbroken. Soon he died and his misery ended. It all happened within two years starting with my father’s death, and ending with my grandfather’s.

We were left all at our own – me and my grandmother. I was too young, and she was too old. My grandfather had left a small piece of cultivable land. My grandmother would rent it out, and we would manage our expenses through that small amount. The rent was not good enough as there was no irrigation system, and the yield depended on timely rains.

I went to the village school, which offered classes up to 8th grade. It is a public school with nominal fee, which my grandmother would manage easily. However, when I passed 8th grade, my grandmother told me, ‘Sweetheart! You are mature enough to understand that your old grandma cannot bear the cost of sending you to high school in Dulmial. You know I am too old, I may die any day. I don’t know what you do when you have no one to take care of you. I think I should arrange your marriage as soon as possible’.

I knew I would not be able to go to high school, and I had accepted it as my fate. But I was scared to hear the other plan my grandma had for me. I cried a lot, and got a promise from my grandma that she would not think of my marriage for at least another two years. She agreed, though still she did not know what would be my fate if she died.

In the meanwhile, Bedari arrived in our village with a plan to provide scholarships to girls who had performed well in their education in class 5or above. When I came to know about the details, and asked my grandma to talk to Bedari people, it was too late. They had already selected 31 girls, and would not accommodate more. I was dejected, but they put my name in the waiting list. I waited, waited and waited. One whole year passed like that.

I had lost all hope, and thought my secondary education was a closed chapter. That was when Uncle Tanveer (a member of our village committee) turned up at our home, and told my grandma that a girl had dropped out of Bedari’s project, and they could send Irum to high school. I was overjoyed at the news. Grandma readily agreed, and the next day uncle Tanveer took me to high school. I got admitted, the school administration provided me the books, and uncle Tanveer made arrangements for my pick and drop. It was again Uncle Tanveer who provided me old uniform of his daughter, though it did not fit well, but liked it very much. I receive scholarship amount in the first week of every month.

Now I go to school regularly. I have attended two Self-Growth Sessions, and learnt how to be assertive without being offensive, and how to negotiate with people. I loved that, and would make sure that I do not miss any of these sessions, these are so useful.

And yes, the best thing is … my grandma has not mentioned my marriage since I started going to school.

 

It's wonderful to hear these success stories, and to know that all our efforts are working in the field. I hope you share my excitement about the potential of this program.

On a more sobering note, we have sufficient funding residual from our initial project with Bedari to continue supporting our program through the remainder of this year, but will need to raise some additional funds going into the next school year. Please pass along the word about Girls Ed and our program if you are so inclined - a few informational links are attached.

All the best -

Steve

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Organization Information

Girls Education International

Location: Boulder, CO - USA
Website:
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Twitter: @girlsed
Project Leader:
Mercedes Ward
Boulder, CO United States
$61,788 raised of $75,000 goal
 
1,090 donations
$13,212 to go
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