Help us meet our goal of raising $50,000

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Welcome Our Newest GEI Board Member!

Girls Education International is growing stronger and stronger with every month! There is so much to learn as a new non-profit organization and excellence on the Board of Trustees is one critical component. Each month, as we meet to discuss future directions, program success, fundraising and much more, the Board matures, learns to operate more effectively and identifies strenths among our Trustees. When we identify a missing link on the Board, a gap in our skill set or an area that is underserved by our current Board, we begin to think of ways in which our Board can grow to better serve our international partners, our girls and our organization overall. It is in these moments that we hope for that perfect person to emerge. Given our many contacts, we often get lucky and that person emerges quickly - as was the case with our dedicated new Executive Director Therese Thompson.

Now, GEI is happy to introduce Michelle Simmons, our latest great discovery and a fabulous new addition to our Board. Michelle Simmons, LPC, holds a Masters Degree in Community Counseling from the University of Northern Colorado and is a licensed professional counselor. She has over 14 years of clinical experience in a variety of settings such as hospitals, community mental health centers and family service agencies. Michelle has extensive knowledge in crucial areas such as trauma, crisis intervention, child protective issues and the needs of foster parents and children in their care.

To give you a more personal introduction to Michelle, we asked her to respond to a few questions about girls education and serving on the Board for GEI.

GEI: Why is girls' education important?
Michelle: The education of girls is critical to the success of our future. Despite limited resources, every child deserves the right to an education. Given the fact that some girls do not have a voice in their country, it is our responsibility to speak for them.

GEI: Why did you join the board of Girls Education International?
Michelle: GEI provides a pathway to advocate for the education of girls in other parts of the world. I have benefitted tremendously from education and now have a way to pay it forward.

GEI: What do you hope to get out of this experience?
Michelle: I absolutely hope to give more than I receive! The opportunity to positively impact lives is enough.

GEI: Is there anything else that you would like to share with us about your investment in the areas of education, girls or development work?
Michelle: For the last 15 years I have been committed to the causes of Education and International Awareness and Involvement.

Welcome, Michelle! We're very happy to have you!

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Fozia rejoins her school & other news in Pakistan

In light of the floods that have devastated the northern districts of Pakistan and the areas close to the banks of the Indus, Girls Education International checked in with our partner NGO, Bedari. According to project manager Safeer Ullah Khan, who recently visited Laphi and Sar Kalan, “All the girls supported through our education program are safe and sound.” The children are currently not in schools because the government schools are closed due to summer vacations and would be reopened after Eid holidays by mid-September.

While in the villages, Khan checked in with one of our girls and got her story. Please meet Fozia Zikriya...

Fozia Zikriya had been studying in the Government Elementary School Sar Kalan, and living a life free of cares in her small village some 48 Kilometers to the south-west of Chakwal City. But fate had something else in store for her.
Her father was implicated in a false case of murder, and was tortured. This paralyzed him mentally, and he became schizophrenic. This created a very tough situation for the family, as he was the primary breadwinner for the family. As well, their expenses shot up due to his medical care.

Her illiterate mother, Nusrat Bibi, has to take up odd jobs, which do not bring sufficient money. She goes to the nearby jungle, collects woods and sells them to her neighbors. She sews clothes, does embroidery, and works as maid for various rich households. She has become a very strong voice for girls’ education. “I believe girls’ education is important,” Bibi said. “If I were educated, I would have handled this situation quite well, and would not have needed support from any NGO for my children’s education.”

After passing her 8th grade, Fozia had to go to the neighboring village for secondary education, because there was no secondary school in her own village. Going to neighboring village involved huge cost on transportation – something too much for the unfortunate family. Fozia had lost all hope of continuing her education, when a social activist visited her house and asked her mother if she would like to send her daughter to school, both mother and daughter were overjoyed.

Now, thanks to the joint efforts of Girls Education International and Bedari, Fozia is going to school studying in grade 9.

Monday, August 23, 2010

High schoolers raise money for Girls Ed project in Liberia

Led by Clara Grainger and Kaziah White, soon-to-be juniors at Fairview High School in South Boulder, Colo., the club Leaping for Liberia (LEAP) raised nearly $600 for the Girls Education International (GEI) scholarship program in Liberia. LEAP meets once each week over the lunch hour, during the school year. The group of up to 70 students usually discusses where they want the money they raise to go, any upcoming fundraisers, and ideas for new ways to raise money. Girls Ed recently caught up with the two 16-year-old leaders of the group to ask them a few questions about LEAP.

GEI: Why did you start LEAP?
Clara: We started LEAP because we wanted to get involved in girls' education in Africa, and none of the existing clubs were really focused on that.

Created with flickr slideshow from softsea.

GEI: What enticed you about working with Africans?
Kaziah: Africa is a really interesting continent, and we wanted to know more about it. Also, we knew that in certain countries, education is a big issue. Since that's what we wanted to help with, we thought Africa would be a good choice.

GEI: How did you find Girls Education International?
Clara: We found Girls' Education International on the Internet when we looked up local non-profits working with education in Africa.

GEI: What have you learned so far from this experience? (Maybe both of you could answer this one).
Kaziah: I've learned a ton from this experience. It really helps things to stay in perspective and makes me realize how incredibly lucky I am to be able to get a wonderful education without having to pay for it. I also learned never to start out with a clothes drive for girls in Africa; it costs a ton of money, and we hadn't taken that into account. I really think that I have (and will continue to) gained a great deal from this experience.
Clara: Yes, I agree about the clothes drive. This has also made me realize how we all tend to take school for granted. It is something that is has been provided for us. Without the scholarships, these girls in Liberia couldn't go to school, yet we still complain when we have to get up and go somewhere that we haven't really had to work for. This experience will continue to keeps things in perspective.

GEI: What have been the most rewarding parts of this project?
Kaziah: Just knowing that in some small way we're helping someone get opportunities that we've always taken for granted before is a very rewarding experience. Also, knowing that the girls we're working with are our age is really motivating.

GEI: What have been some of your biggest frustrations?
Clara: Well, some big frustrations have been trying to get people to take us seriously, both inside and outside the club. When people meet us, their first thought tends to be, "they're still in high school!" and they seem to take it from there.

GEI: What are you future goals with LEAP?
Kaziah: We want to continue to work with Girls Education International, and we want to try and raise more money than we did this year. Also, starting up communications with the girls in Liberia would be great.

Check out the clubs' Facebook page by clicking here.