She is Why We Do What We Do – Where is She Now?

She is Why We Do What We Do – Where is She Now?

I wrote about Zainab last year in a post called “She is why we do what we do.” She’s now made it through seven years of secondary school against all odds. Her Sherbro Foundation school fee scholarship helped her reach her goal.

Here’s Zainab in July (center, hand on her hip) with a group of Rotifunk girls, all scholarship recipients, leaving for Freetown to take the WASSCE exam – the West African Senior School Certificate Exam. She’s one of a small group that are the first to complete senior high in Rotifunk and sit for this month-long standardized exam. Yes, I said month long.IMG-20160821-WA0005

Sherbro Foundation works to get girls like Zainab into secondary school with our Girls’ Scholarship Fund. But our real goal is that they graduate and move on to good careers and productive lives – and leave behind the poverty that has trapped their families for generations.

Zainab Bangura 2 - PGHS scholarship awardeeZainab’s story stated out badly. She’s one of many girls faced with poverty and an early arranged marriage when her mother could no longer pay for her to stay in secondary school. Zainab later left this older man, who already had a wife, and she returned to school.

Zainab’s story is all too common in Sierra Leone.  But she caught my eye with her determination to complete school and go to college. I was impressed with her maturity when she matter-of-factly asked if Sherbro Foundation would be helping to set-up a science lab for her school needed to complete the senior high science curriculum.

Life had already dealt Zainab a bad hand, but she was determined to pursue science and become a doctor. When I asked her why a doctor, she said, so I can save lives. And that conversation was before Ebola hit.

I was excited to hear Zainab returned to school when it reopened last year after Ebola. I’m now thrilled she is among the first group of girls finishing senior high and taking the completion exam.

Zainab’s story could have ended sadly. When girls reach 15 or 16, it’s too much of a burden for many parents to keep paying for school. An arranged marriage like Zainab’s is an easy solution and eliminates one mouth to feed.

Imagine the strength and determination of Zainab to pursue a new life and realize her obvious potential. I can still see it in her latest picture above. It all starts with getting girls like her into secondary school and keeping them there.

This is why Sherbro Foundation maintains the Girls Scholarship Fund and is pushing it hard this year.

Bumpeh Chiefdom’s Paramount Chief Charles Caulker underlined the importance of reaching this year’s stretch goal to double the program and send 300 girls to school in September.

“Over the past three years we’ve made successful efforts to get girls into secondary school. There were more girls enrolled than ever before when school ended in July.

“But I fear half the girls enrolled are at risk of dropping out this year because their parents just can’t pay their school fees. The economy is that bad now.”

“I’m passionate about this. I want to take the lead in asking all our family and friends to go the extra mile to save these children from dropping out and the abuses so many girls face with teenage marriage and pregnancy. Let’s not let all their efforts to get an education go in vain,” Chief Caulker said.

Sherbro Foundation is determined to keep girls in school. The dollar is strong now and goes further than ever in Sierra Leone. Just $50 will pay school fees for three junior high girls for the whole year.

We need your help: we’re at 75% of goal. We’d love to surpass our goal — hundreds more girls need scholarships! 

You can do it now by donating here — send a girl to school.   

Thank you!

Arlene Golembiewski
Executive Director, Sherbro Foundation

The easiest way to send girls to school

The easiest way to send girls to school

Can you contribute to Sherbro Foundation with automatic monthly recurring payments? Two people recently asked, and the answer is, Absolutely.

Just go to the Donate page and hit the Donate button as you would for any donation. Fill in the amount you wish to donate monthly and tick the “make this recurring monthly” box. That’s it.

WSSS scholarship students Sept 2013 - CopyEnter any monthly amount you choose. $10 a month is a painless way to ensure you’re sending girls to school throughout the year. In twelve months, you’ll have paid for six girls to go to junior high school for a whole year.

At $20 a month, you’ll be helping a girl pay her annual school fees every month. Yep, one month from you could mean 9 months of schooling for her.

Or, you can designate your money to go to any of our projects. Help villages plant community orchards that will produce income for them to dig wells, build a school or improve their road. Help parents start saving for their child’s education from birth with our Newborn Education Savings Program. Pay for our Community Computer Center to receive solar power ensuring computer and Adult Literacy classes go on every day – and at night.

Monthly recurring donations are kind of a no-brainer. You set it up. You send a message when you want it to stop. Consider it. The easy way to make a difference in a girl’s life – every month of the year.

Let Sierra Leone Girls Learn

Let Sierra Leone Girls Learn

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When food costs skyrocket, school is out of the question for many Sierra Leone students. Especially for girls. When girls are forced to drop out, they’re at risk of early marriage. Or getting pregnant with no marriage. Their lives change forever.

The Ebola health crisis may have ended in 2015, but a country-wide economic crisis has followed. Families can’t send girls to secondary school — which is not free — if they can barely feed themselves.

But we can help, and change their lives for the better. Learn more here.

If you’re ready now, DONATE HERE.

The Feminist Paramount Chief: Why Girls Must Go to School

The Feminist Paramount Chief: Why Girls Must Go to School

PC CaulkerFor years, the longtime traditional leader of Bumpeh Chiefdom dreamed of ways life could improve for its 44,000 rural residents.

Most of Paramount Chief Charles Caulker’s chiefdom is made up of small, inaccessible villages of 200-500 people, living a subsistence farming existence scarcely changed in 100 years. These are among the poorest people in the world, living on $1 a day. It’s hard to ever get ahead and break the cycle of poverty on $1 a day.

For Chief Caulker, one fundamental is key:  girls must go to school.

Today, only an estimated 10 to 20 percent of girls in his chiefdom make it to secondary school. If it became the norm, he believes his chiefdom’s and the country’s culture – and fortunes – would change.

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“With education, women can assert themselves and can get their own jobs, or start or expand their own small businesses. They’ll take their own decisions,’’ Chief Caulker told us during a recent discussion about the importance of Sherbro Foundation’s Girls Scholarship Program.

Chief Caulker is emphatic: “There’s a growing understanding that educating girls brings more benefit to the family than educating boys.

IMG_0411“Girls are more serious and work harder. They get better jobs. They take their family responsibilities seriously, and ensure their children and parents are taken care of.

“Women are more industrious,’’ he explained bluntly. “As Rotifunk grows and business opportunities open up, women will be the ones to start restaurants, shops and expanded markets for the growing middle class.”

And if girls aren’t educated?

“Women in rural Sierra Leone continue to suffer indignities dictated by outdated customary practices and unenlightened male chauvinism,’’ Chief Caulker says.

What kind of indignities do women suffer, we asked. We got an earful.

IMG_3559 - Copy“Women do 70 percent of the work on the family farm but are not allowed to make decisions on running the farm or selling crops. Their husband controls the money and may carelessly spend it on himself for things like gambling with his friends,” he said frankly.

“The woman is up at dawn and making a fire to warm bath water for her husband and reheat food for breakfast, if they have it. When going to work on the farm, pregnant women can be seen carrying loads on their head and another baby on their back. Her husband may accompany her to the farm without helping carry anything, do a couple hours work and return home to sit out the rest of the day.

IMG_3174“His wife returns late in the day as the sun is going down. She may still need to go buy fresh produce and collect firewood and water before making a fire to cook the family dinner. Her husband will then expect her to have sex that night and she can’t refuse.”

That is rural life as it has been for hundreds of years. “Women are treated like beasts of burden,” Chief Caulker says.

“Today by 14 or 15, girls not in school are seen as grown up and ready to work and get married. If they marry, it means their family has one less mouth to feed.”

But with our help, we can send – and keep – more girls in school.  They will be able to avoid early marriage and dangerous early pregnancies.

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Chief Caulker is determined to empower parents to send their children beyond primary school and get a good education. “With education, women will be more enlightened and understand their rights.” They’ll act on these rights, to the benefit of the whole chiefdom.

Chief Caulker is grateful for Sherbro Foundation’s goal to send 300 Bumpeh Chiefdom girls to secondary school this year.  He sees these girls as the future of his chiefdom.

Help us meet this goal and send a girl to school:  DONATE HERE



Keep Girls in School

Girl appeal image 2016

When food costs soar, school is too often out of the question for Sierra Leone students.

The Ebola health crisis may have ended in 2015, but a country-wide economic crisis has followed. Inflation has skyrocketed with no end in sight. Everyday needs like rice, cooking oil and public transportation have risen 30% in less than a year.

All at a time when rural farmers and small market traders are still trying to recover incomes slashed in half during the Ebola period.

Families can’t send girls to secondary school — which is not free – if they can barely feed themselves.

The good news in Bumpeh Chiefdom is that more girls are in school than ever before. Nearly 900 girls were enrolled in the chiefdom’s five secondary schools as the school year ended in July.

Over three years, Sherbro Foundation’s scholarship program has helped 300 girls enter – and stay in — secondary school. With every year of school, a young woman earns 10% more income.  She marries later and has fewer, healthier children, when her body is ready for them.

The bad news is many of these girls will now be forced to drop out. Unless they get a helping hand.

Our goal this year is to double the number of scholarships from 150 to 300 girls.

Bumpeh Chiefdom’s Paramount Chief Charles Caulker told us why the Girls Scholarship Program is important to him. “With education, women can assert themselves and take their own decisions. They can get their own jobs, or start or expand their own small businesses,” he said. “They won’t suffer the indignities of outdated customary practices and unenlightened male chauvinism.”

Girls with secondary education will have skills to get wage- paying jobs or start small businesses. Some girls will complete senior high and may be able to go on to college. They want to become the nurses, teachers, lawyers, accountants, social workers and environmental managers their country desperately needs. They’ll move beyond a subsistence lifestyle and break the cycle of poverty they grew up in.

One silver lining – since the US dollar is strong and now worth much more in Sierra Leone, your donation goes further than ever before!

Just $50 will cover a whole year’s school fees for three junior high girls.

It means three girls will make the transition from primary to secondary school. Three girls now in junior high will stay in school and keep learning.  We’re helping girls progress to senior high, and the first group is ready to graduate.

Bumpeh Chiefdom school girls have told us, “We’re ready to learn.”

And we want to help. Our 2016 Scholarships goal is $5,000. We’re 40% of the way to our goal. But that won’t cover 300 girls.

Most Bumpeh Chiefdom female students are the first in their families to get any education. They can escape the subsistence lifestyle that’s trapped generations.

You can help these girls change the direction of their lives and their communities.  Just click here, and it’s done:  DONATE

Thank you!

Arlene Golembiewski, Chris Golembiewski, Cheryl Farmer and Steve Papelian
— the Sherbro Foundation Board of Directors

P.S. If you can give a little more, you’ll ensure our goal is reached when school starts in September!