By Wanda BedardWith the new year now upon us, the end of yet another successful year completed, 60 million girls is set to move forward with new projects in 2013, strongly continuing our support of girls’ education.
Since 2006, together we have invested a total of $1.4 million in 14 projects in 12 countries, supporting over 10,000 children. Over the years, our projects have varied from school construction, water and sanitation projects, bursaries, school supplies, teacher training, role models, mentors, girls’ clubs, women’s clubs, remedial classes, human rights education, community engagement – whatever was necessary in a particular community to ensure girls were able to attend school and thrive there.
Each project supported was financed with $100,000 for usually a one-year term. Some partners used the funds over 2-3 years. In some cases, where unforeseen violence, change or insecurity occurred, a project has been extended over more years to ensure that the money is wisely invested, despite these changes and challenges in the community.
For 2013, we have chosen change as well as continuity.
60 million girls will support 2 projects this year for a total investment of $400,000. One project will be supported with a $100,000 grant in Ethiopia through a wonderful partnership with Right to Play.
Achieving Inclusive Girls’ Education in Ethiopia is a project that uses the power of sport to improve the learning environment for children. It mobilizes communities in support of their commitment to educating children, with a particular focus on girls. Children participating in this program will benefit from increased knowledge of healthy practices and greatly strengthened life skills. Regular participation in these programs has been demonstrated to build stronger peer networks and improve the social environment of school thereby contributing to reduced drop-out of students, both boys and girls, stronger academic achievement, decreased community resistance to girls’ education and improved quality of teaching.
This child-centered, experiential learning program using a sport and play-based methodology is a unique way to foster greater understanding between girls and boys as they participate together in extra-curricular activities as equal partners in learning and play.
A second and major new investment for 60 million girls in 2013 and 2014 will be a $300,000 grant to Free the Children to support the construction of the Oleleshwa Girls High School. Since our investment with FTC in the Oloosiyioi Primary School in the Maasai Mara region of Kenya, the number of children completing elementary school, particularly girls, has continually increased. In the last year alone, Free The Children has seen an 11% increase in girls’ primary school enrollment. Girls are graduating at the top of their class and are meeting and exceeding national standards, yet they are often unable to continue on to secondary school.
With successful completion of primary school came unrelenting requests from girls to continue studying at the high school level. Research and our own experience have shown us that the beginning of adolescence is a pivotal time in a young girls’ life. Enabling her to stay in school and continue her education can keep her safe from unwanted or forced marriage, from early child-bearing thereby decreasing maternal and infant mortality rates, and enable her to greatly increase her potential income which leads to building a stronger economic base for her family and her community.
Kipsigis, Kisii and Maasai girls will study together in a well-thought-out high school complex complete with computer and science labs, art and music rooms, school gardens, sports facilities and residences. The school will follow the Kenya high school curriculum and then add much more! Oleleshwa Girls Secondary School is not just about providing a quality education, but also about fostering leadership and community among the students. Strong ties to the community will ensure that all girls continue to benefit from the support of their families and that their culture remains central to their learning. They will be prepared for work in the local economy as strong partners in the development of their region.
Change and continuity. New projects, new approaches and yet the continuation of past investments and past partnerships have led to a better understanding and a deep impact in the communities where they are based.
60 million girls constantly strives to look at new ways to invest to ensure that an ever greater number of girls have access to a quality education. Women are half the world. We cannot do without their intelligence, talents and skills. Six years of learning and investing in girls and 14 projects in 12 countries have taught us a great deal about wise partnerships, listening to the communities and supporting well-considered and properly structured programs that have tangible and measurable results.
We know one thing for sure: invest in a girl – she will do the rest!
By Vida FereydoonzadIt’s that time again when our founder, Wanda Bedard, packs her bags and heads out to visit one of our projects in the field. This year, it’s destination Sierra Leone, West Africa!
This is where the 60 million girls Foundation is supporting a two-year project (2012-2013) with partner CAUSE Canada. Wanda, daughters, Liah Fereydoonzad and myself, and Negin Atashband, our graphic designer, will be welcomed with open arms. As executive committee members of 60 million girls, we are looking forward to witnessing, firsthand, how this particular project, like many others, can transform the lives of individual girls and their entire communities.
We will visit a number of the 15 schools, meet some of the 4,515 children and 120 teachers, and have a chance to speak with a few of the 20 exceptional female bursary recipients – all of whom are supported by this partnership of 60 million girls with CAUSE Canada in the Koinadugu region of Sierra Leone.
Stay tuned as we bring back stories and insight from our trip (and, hopefully, a picture or two!). Follow us on Twitter and our blog.
Note: We would like to mention that this trip is 100% personally paid for by Wanda, Liah, Vida and Negin and absolutely no money is taken from funds from either 60 million girls or CAUSE Canada.
By Lesley Stewart60 million girls is happy to announce that we are a participating charity in Aeroplan’s Charitable Pooling Program called Beyond Miles. You can now donate Aeroplan miles to our foundation, which we will be able to redeem to help pay for travel, car rental and hotel expenses of speakers whom we invite to our annual conference. We will also be able to receive goods or services for the foundation. There are 4 simple steps to follow to donate your miles. Here they are:
- Click on this link: Aeroplan donate.
- Click on DONATE NOW.
- Enter your Aeroplan account number and your password.
- Donate your miles!
By Natalie KarneefFeeling social? 60 million girls is on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and in the blogosphere! Follow us for the latest on our partners, 60 million girls events, conferences and fundraising projects past and present, as well as inspiring stories about the impact of girl’s education around the globe. We’re only a click away!
By Lesley StewartOur 7th annual fundraising conference, held on November 8, 2012, at the Collège de Montréal, was a resounding success. The cocktail party preceding the conference allowed our supporters a chance to chat and do some last-minute bidding on the 70 auction items. The auction raised $13,000 – amazing, particularly without any hockey tickets due to the NHL strike! Also, our guests were able to view a small exhibition of stunning photographs of girls from our projects in India and Kenya.
This year, we were fortunate to have Roxanne Joyal, of Free the Children, and Jackson Kaguri, of the Nyaka AIDS Orphans Project, as our keynote speakers. Ky’okusinga Kirunga, a member of our executive committee, ably moderated the round table discussion between these two distinguished individuals. Each spoke eloquently of the many challenges facing children in their on-going quest to become educated members of their communities. Jackson, one of five children, described his childhood in Uganda and the immense value that was placed on education by his parents. He also spoke of his brother who died of HIV/AIDS – an event that forever changed the course of his life and galvanized him into establishing his own foundation. Roxanne spoke of the work of Free the Children and her own experiences in the field with projects in Africa and India. She stressed the need for leadership education and economic empowerment programs to effect sustainable change in the communities where Free the Children works.
At the end of the evening, our three partners, War Child Canada, Handicap International and the Stephen Lewis Foundation, each received a cheque for $90,000. This amount was topped up to $100,000 at the end of the year as our generous donors helped us surpass our 2012 goal of $300,000!
By Lesley StewartLast July, I tweeted about a video, “The water tank: A tale of two Kenyan schools”, featuring two schools in Kenya, Nalepo Primary School and Sajiloni Primary School. An article entitled “The Battle for Water – Rain, rain everywhere and not a drop to drink” gave further information about this story. It explained that Africa receives more rainfall than Europe but, untapped, it flows into the sea. Thus, people who live in the arid or semi-arid parts of Kenya struggle to survive recurring bouts of drought and hunger. The two schools, situated in the semi-arid Jadiado County, south of Nairobi, face severe water shortages but, despite being separated by a distance of only 4 km, the situation in each school is very different.
In Nalepo Primary School, the children must fetch water for their school at the water pump twice a day, a distance of 1 kilometre. When the pump runs dry, there is no water to cook their lunch and the students go hungry. Unable to concentrate, the children leave early. “A hungry child cannot learn. A hungry stomach cannot concentrate,” says the teacher, Benjamin Moonka. Drought also forces the Maasai to migrate long distances in search of water and pastures for their animals, pulling their children out of school. The students lose part of their school year and, on their return, find themselves far behind their classmates and unable to catch up.
However, in Sajiloni Primary School, the situation is quite different. Though faced with the same drought conditions as its neighbour, the school is always assured of a supply of water, thanks to a rainwater harvesting system. When it rains, an enormous water tank fills up and provides water for drinking, food preparation, hygiene and even laundry. The school now grows its own vegetables, providing the students with nutritious meals. The children are saved the daily trek to fetch water and can concentrate on their studies. As a result of the rainwater harvesting system, student enrolment is constant and grades have improved greatly.
For those who ask whether aid can make a difference that is sustainable, both the video and article answer in the affirmative. Sajiloni Primary School illustrates how aid can lead to many different benefits, including sustainable education. 60 million girls understands the importance of access to water and sanitation in schools and these have been these key components of many of the projects we support.