Help us meet our goal of raising $50,000

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Report from Casey Middle School, Boulder

Casey Middle School

In the months of February and March, Casey Middle School put on a Penny War for Peace. We raised $583.58 that will go toward a girls’ school renovation project in Khane, Pakistan (or a new school project in the Hushe Valley). We were initially inspired by Greg Mortenson’s “Three Cups of Tea” book and by the way he has helped to build schools for girls in Pakistan. We were moved by his efforts as just a normal person and decided that we could help, too. We were so happy to find a local Boulder group who could help us. We asked Lizzy Scully (the executive director of Girls Education International) to come to our school. She presented at our assembly and showed her pictures of Khane. We thought it would be great to help other people get what they deserve. She was cool and funny. Her motivation helped us raise the money. We decided a Penny War would be fun. 6th, 7th and 8th graders competed to raise the most money, but only pennies counted as a positive point. All other coins and bills were counted as negative. It was fun to put the negatives in the other grades’ jars. The 6th graders were the best at raising money and the whole school could hear the 6th graders roar when the winners were announced. We’re now planning a party and other ways to have fun raising money.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Emily Sherman-Davis has returned from assessment

I just received the report from Emily Sherman-Davis on her assessment of schools and girls in two mountainous regions of Liberia. We can provide scholarships to 42 girls for less than $3000. I am hoping at our June 26th fundraiser with Pete Takeda in Estes Park that we will be able to raise the full amount of money to provide scholarships to these girls for the 2008/2009 school year. I'm including some photos of Emily and the schools and girls she visited. I'll include the complete report at the end of this blog entry.
(The girls in green are from St. Martin's School. Emily is on the far right in the photos with the school children).

My Trip to Gbarnga, Bong County

William V. S. Tubman Gray United Methodist High School

In Gbarnga, Bong County, I visited two schools. My first visit was at the William V. S. Tubman Gray United Methodist High School. I met the principal Mr. P. Harvey Willie, who whole heartedly took me around the campus, and was happy for the scholarship program. He took me to the 9th grade class to talk to the girls of that class. Then the girls asked questions.

We distributed the forms to all the students of the Grade 9 class and explained that there was a selection process and it was not possible to give scholarships to all the girls. Hence the selection process so as to ensure that the girls who had the greatest need based on the criteria set by Common Ground received the scholarship. We asked the girls to write a hand written application and attach a photo to their applications and send them to the Principal’s office. We held an interview with the applicants the following day along with the principal and one lady teacher. I informed the applicatants that they will know if they are selected through a letter which would be sent to the principal of the school.

St Martin Catholic High School

My second visit was at the St. Martin’s High School. This is a Catholic school System. I met with the principal Mr. Darwin who took me around the campus to see the girls. I visited the 6th grade class. I was informed by the principal that the school has more girls than boys. Many according to the principal found it difficult to pay their fees.

I met with the students of Grade Six and explain to them the purpose of the scholarship. We distributed the application forms and told the girls to attach a handwritten application with a passport photo to the applications. The following day we conducted the interviews with the students in the office of the principal.

During our stay in Gbarnga, we visited the Methodist High School agricultural farm where rice and other crops are planted. We also paid surprise visits at the home of some of the girls who applied for the scholarship and met with the Chief Education Officer who was very happy about the scholarship program. He noted that most of the scholarship programs in the country benefits only students in the urban area and expressed the hope that the scholarship will help to retain and increase enrolment of girls in the county. We also visited some parts of the city as well as the general market.

I finally had a meeting with the Principals of the both schools before my departure from Gbarnga. In our meeting we discussed how we will work with them directly in collecting academic records of the beneficiaries.

Kakata, Margibi County

Dekegar Community School

In Kakata, Margibi, I visited three schools. The first was the Dekegar Community School. I had no intention of visiting this school prior to my coming to Kakata. But seeing the school from afar, I felt impelled to reach the campus. This is a community junior high school. The school is housed in an unfinished building; some of the classes are held practically outside, majority of the young pupils I saw were only wearing slippers. Some were in color clothes because they can’t afford the cost of uniforms and the school authority had to be patient until the parents could buy the uniforms.

Many of the girls with told me that they sell palm nuts, fish and other food stuff to pay their fees and even still found it difficult to get the fees on time. Most of the students in the school walk long distances to come to school. The learning condition is deplorable especially when it comes to classrooms and chairs.

Based on my observation and the need of girls in this school I decided to distribute some forms to the students in Grade 9.

At St. Christopher Catholic High school, I met the Vice principal Mr.Massiquoi. I arrived at the school when students were sitting to their fourth period tests so I did not have the opportunity to speak to the students directly as I wanted. I managed to talk with a few of them who finished their tests when I was still on campus. We however explained the purpose of the scholarships and gave the forms to the Principal.

Upon second thought I decided to include one public school into scholarship scheme so it would not look like we had some indifference with public schools. Thus I visited the Allen Yancy Junior High School. In this school the education is free for the elementary section but the junior high section pay fees. I met the principal Mr. Milton A.F. Coleman who discussed the need for a girls’ scholarship program. He stated that inspite of the fact the fees are relatively low, many girls could not afford to pay even their registration fees.

I later had a meeting with the girls in Grade 9.

The following day I conducted the interviews at all the schools and informed the applicants that those selected for the scholarship will shortly know. We also held discussions with the principals.


The final selection was done at Common Ground Society with the inputs of the staff. It was difficult process, but based on my personal observation and interview notes we managed to make the following selections:

St . Martins - Bong County (10 Students selected)
Patience Corrans
Madusu K. Aromah
Winder V. Kollie
Karkue S. Dunbar
Neomie Y. Mulbah
Youku Y Johnson
Lorpu B. Kpangbah
Roseline D. Tonkoille
Korbawulu T. Barpeen
Michaeline T. Biddle

Methodist High - Bong County (11 Students selected)

Linda Mulbah
Rose Diggs
Neyeah Sumo
Helena Paulono
Aminata Donzo
Lovette Goodridge
Gifty Youhn
Mary Korsee
Leemu Kennedy
Tete Dologbuman
Jennis Flomo 4th grade *
(on the day of my departure, this little girl walked up to me and asked if she could get a scholarship from me. I was really touched since it is not a normal thing for young people to just walk up to an adult (especially strangers) and ask for favors. I walked back with her to the principal’s office and asked to see her grades while she waited outside. She is doing remarkably well, however, the principal told me she was one of the students that could not afford her fees. I did not promise anything but I told her I will see what I could do. I explained this to our staff and everyone thought it would be good to include on the program. That is how we selected her.

St. Christopher - Margibi County (5 students selected)

Dorothy George
Matu Kollie
Josephine Fallah
Hawa Kiawu
Deborah Teeman

Dekegar Elementary and Jr. High - Margibi County (11 Students selected)

Alice Whikolo
Comfort Naimah
Olivia Massaquoi
Henritta Tambah
Love Vah
Rebecca Kollie
Annie Naimah
Annie Jouah
Gracial Holder
Famata Harris
Atura Garway

E. J. Yancy Elementary and Junior High – (10 students selected)

Teta Y. Dolo
Lovina Thomas
Ophelia Bayoh
Nancy Cooper
Malusu Kanneh
Joanna Nazen
Meme Neagar
Christina Tokpah
Moneh Kappeh
Mailee Seingbah

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Reports and other news

THe fundraiser at Cafe Babu was a huge success as far as raising awareness and getting people out. Unfortunately we didn't make as much money as we hoped because we had to split the take a the door 40/60 with the owners of the cafe. We realized that next time we really need to get our venues for free or for a discounted rate. However, Heidi did a fantastic job organizing the entire event with some help from Roxanna Brock, Russell Holcolm and the ever-energetic Patrick (sorry I don't know his last name!)

In other news, Emily Sherman-Davis, the program director for Common Ground Society, Liberia, returned from her assessment trip to the mountainous regions of Liberia. In a few days I will have her report up on the blog. We're very excited that we've actually got a program up and running. Hopefully at our June 26th fundraiser at the Hangar Restaurant in Estes Park--featuring book writer and alpinist Pete Takeda ('ll raise the $3000 we need to fund the scholarship for Liberian girls.

The 6th, 7th and 8th graders at Casey Middle School continue to raise funds for our project in Khane. Unfortunately, we are still having problems getting that program up and running. We are working with the CARE Foundation in Pakistan, but we haven't been able to settle on a plan to get things going. It's getting to be really frustrating--not because CARE isn't helpful, but rather because they have limited funds and employees to do the assessment, and they are so far away from the Northern Areas. I wish I could find an organization in the Northern Areas, but after doing a bunch of research and talking with many folks, it just seems that there's a dearth of agencies operating in that region. I'm still communicating with CARE on a regular basis and am hoping to fund a trip for one of their employees.

I've just received all the information from the people who administer the Child Labor Rescue program in Nepal. I am going to put together a grant proposal to raise money for the program, which is currently administered jointly by The Mountain Fund and the Nepali NGO, Empowering Women of Nepal. Scott MacLennan and I are working on putting together a Trek4Good that will bring a group of women to the Mustang region of Nepal to check out the Child Labor Rescue program, meet the girls, and then trek around Annapurna. We are hoping the trip happens in October or November (for more information, visit I'll post more specific information as we get the program going.

Things we are in great need of right now include: someone to help research grants that would be appropriate for our three programs. We can't actually apply for grants for the Khane project until we get the assessment worked out. However, we can apply for grants for the Liberia and Nepal programs. I desperately need someone to help me find donors, sponsors and or grants that apply. This is Girls Education International's greatest need right now.

Saturday, April 05, 2008

Slide Show in Seattle and Other Stuff

I just did a slide show the other night at Feathered Friends. I told the story of Heidi's & my climbing relationship and how that led us to create Girls Education International. Despite some technical difficulties, the show went well. It was fun, and people were laughing. I look forward to doing my next show at the New River Rendezvous this May. Now I just have to figure out how to get people to donate more money!

Our next big fund raiser is just one week away. Heid's organized a fantastic masquerave. It'll be an all-niter (maybe not for me). I hope to see hundreds of people there! I'm going to go ahead and post the ad again.

In other news. We've just sent our first batch of money over to Liberia. $780 to be exact. The $60 it cost to send it via Western Union was an unpleasant surprise. However, because Liberia has no infrastructure due to the destruction of their ten-year civil war, we can't send the money any other way. The banking systems are unreliable. Western Union, it seems, is the only consistent, trustworthy business around the world. I am impressed. So, anyway, that $720 (minus the $60) will be used for the assessment process.

Emily Sherman-Davis, the program director for Common Ground Society, is traveling to two different mountainous regions of Liberia. She will visit with a variety of schools and during assemblies will announce the details of the scholarship program to the students. Students will then spend a few days writing up their application forms while Emily works out the scholarship program details with the principals of the school. She will have to make a quick decision about the recipients this year because each trip she takes will cost hundreds of dollars. Rather than spend those hundreds paying for her to travel around Liberia, she and GEI decided it was most imporant to get some girls educated. She will visit the schools again two times each year to check on the progress of the girls, and she will communicate with principals throughout the year as well.

Our Pakistan project is moving forward, but maddeningly slowly. I am in regularly communication with Areej from the CARE Foundation, Pakistan. We are trying to figure out via sporadic emails when Heidi can go over there to do the assessment with CARE. CARE must assess the village Khane before the renovations can take place. We are still not 100% sure that the project will happen, but I have high hopes for CARE's ability to build and/or renovate schools. I'll keep you posted.

Spring Masquerave Dance Party!!!

April 12th @ Cafe Babu
1335 Broadway in BOULDER
on the corner of University and Broadway, next to the Boulder Mountaineering shop!

10pm-6am! Yep all night! So bring your comfy dancing shoes!
Suggested donation $20

Music by:
Future Simple Project=
Alala One=
and special guests!!!!