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 “They won’t suffer the indignities of outdated customary practices and unenlightened male chauvinism.”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
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!