What your scholarship buys — it’s so much more than you think

Sending a girl to school will change her life. And she will give you one of the biggest returns on investment you’ll ever make — for years to come.

A $17 scholarship amazingly pays a girl’s school fees for the whole year.

“I am happy and delighted when I got this scholarship which every girl wish to have this opportunity.”

— Emilia, 9th grader in Bumpeh Chiefdom

$35 pays for a scholarship AND a new school uniform for a 7th grader or 10th grader.

We asked how can we do more this year to help girls go to school — and stay in school. The answer was, “Add a school uniform.” We’re targeting 7th and 10th graders entering a new junior or senior high school with a new uniform. They cost a little more than school fees. Girls will wear the same uniform for a year or more.

$50 will send three girls to school for a whole year. Giving has never been a bigger bargain.

No, we’re not offering a 3-for-1 sale. The leone has lost 25% of its value since Ebola, and the cost of school fees has been held flat. So, our dollar buys much more than it did two years ago.

This is only the beginning of a long cycle of good a scholarship brings to a girl, her community, and her country.

A girl can stay in school and focus on her studies without fear of dropping out. A burden is taken off her family. Girls spend less time working to earn money for school, and more time studying.

“If not for your support, definitely I would have become a drop-out. My father is dead, and my mother is a gardener. She could not afford paying my fees. I can boast of going to school now because of your support.” 

— Hellen, 8th grader

Girls avoid the life-altering event of pregnancy and becoming a teenage mother.

Teen pregnancy in Sierra Leone is one of the highest in the world at 12.5 for every 100 girls age 15–19. The pregnancy rate is down drastically among Bumpeh Chiefdom girls with scholarships. Girls work harder in school in order to keep their scholarship. They know there’s competition. Girls now have bigger goals and pregnancies are reduced to only a few. Many young mothers return to school after their child is born.

Reduced teen pregnancies mean fewer girls dying while giving birth and infant mortality is lower.

Sierra Leone has had the highest maternal and infant mortality rates in the world. One-third of all pregnancies are among girls age 15-19. Their young bodies are not ready to carry and deliver a child, and health care is too far away from villages when emergencies arise.

Schooling eliminates illiteracy – probably the single greatest factor feeding the cycle of poverty.

Only 1 in 3 Sierra Leone girls are enrolled in secondary school. In Bumpeh Chiefdom, it’s more like 1 in 4, making this one of the poorest chiefdoms and districts in the country. We fight poverty by putting more girls in school.

Educated women greatly increase their incomes – and invest them in their children & communities.

Women increase incomes 10% for every year of schooling they receive and triple their lifetime incomes, according to the UN and World Bank.

Educated women have fewer, healthier, better educated children, breaking the cycle of poverty.

With education, women learn how to limit the number of children they have. They learn about health and hygiene to protect their children against common illnesses that claim too many under-5 kids. And with greater incomes, women make educating their children a priority.

A country’s development and economic growth shifts into higher gear when half the workforce is no longer illiterate and untrained.

“Invest in girls and you invest in the whole nation. We will fight poverty in our country by educating girls. It’s a means of development.” 

— Daniel Koroma, Bumpeh Academy Vice Principal

Educating women accelerates a trend to greater gender equality and less violence.

Education makes women more empowered and less vulnerable to bullying and harassment their illiterate peers fall prey to. It also informs women of their legal and human rights. “You can’t assert your rights if you don’t know what they are.” Educated women are eager to enter roles of leadership at the village and district level, as well as in national government.

Who knew a $17 scholarship could buy this much value?

You can open up a girl’s world. Give her a scholarship. Do more – add a school uniform.

We want to do more, too. Sherbro Foundation will match every gift. That means you’ll have double the impact.

It’s so simple. Click here: I want to send a girl to school.

What a girl must do to go to school

What a girl must do to go to school

Alima just finished 8th grade. She’s a spirited 13-year-old who speaks right up, but she’s small for her age. It was only after I asked in our second conversation that she told me she walks to school from her village six miles away.

That’s 12 miles a day to and fro, every day. But Alima has a scholarship and is happy to be in school. I could tell she’s bright, which her vice principal confirmed.

13-year-old Alima, left, student at Bumpeh Academy with Arlene Golembiewski, SFSL

Girls must grow up early when they decide to go to secondary school in Bumpeh Chiefdom, Sierra Leone.

They have huge hurdles to pass for the basic education westerners take for granted.

It starts with getting to a school.

Alima is not alone in walking a long way to school. It’s common for village girls to walk 4, 5, 6, even 7 miles each way to Rotifunk schools every day. Leaving when dawn is just breaking, kids begin their long trek, often on an empty stomach. Their return trip is under the hot tropical sun.

Bumpeh Chiefdom is made up of 200 small villages of 200 to 400 people, sprinkled throughout the chiefdom. Most are too small to support a primary school, let alone a junior high or high school. Girls must go to Rotifunk, the chiefdom seat, to attend one of four secondary schools of different types and faiths. A new junior high recently opened in a larger village. It’s struggling with funding and getting teachers who have training beyond high school themselves.

Only a couple rickety, well-used mini-vans travel the dirt back roads as public transportation, and only a few times a week, usually for market days. They’re not out in the early dawn hours to reach school for 8 o’clock assembly.

Kids like Alima can’t afford to pay for daily transportation anyway. They walk every day. Many miles.

Village girls have to leave home to board with a family in Rotifunk or a nearby village.

Alima lives with her aunt in Mokebi village. She’s typical of girls who must leave their parents and home at an early age to go to school. If they’re fortunate like Alima, they board with a family member who can offer housing and some level of family life. If better off, the relative may even pay the child’s school fees.

Split families are common in Sierra Leone. Husbands and wives work in different places. Alima’s parents are older and couldn’t pay for any more schooling, so they sent her to her aunt. Single parents and poor families often can no longer afford to feed teenage children, and send them to relatives. Family members are left to take in orphans.

When asked who girls live with, the answer so often is, my aunt. Rotifunk is a local trading center with a large weekly market, smaller daily markets and other places to sell, like school lunch stands. Market trading and cooking and selling food are the domain of women. They’re often single heads of households, their men gone or looking for jobs in larger towns and cities. Little money finds its way back home. But women keep taking in children and find ways to stretch their tiny incomes.

Isatu B. was recently orphaned. “I no longer have any strong relative who will help me go through schooling,” she said. Relatives strapped for money and with children of their own may offer girls little more than a place to sleep. Teens away from home for the first time can get little supervision. At 15 and 16 years of age, many are making their own way.

Girls work for a living while going to school.

After a day at school and walking 12 miles, Alima helps her farmer aunt planting and weeding the cassava, yams and okra they grow. This is their livelihood and pays for their food and her school uniform.

Girls take on many physical chores after school. They’re cooking on wood fires, doing laundry by hand, carrying water and fetching firewood. They work on family farms, and may be selling its produce or other goods in the local market after school.

If girls can’t rely on a guardian for money, they have to earn the money for their daily food and school expenses (school fees, uniform and school supplies).

Their family or guardian may advance them $10 to sell things in the market. They buy elsewhere and resell in Rotifunk at a higher price. Or they make fried doughnuts or cakes to sell, or bring produce from the family farm. It’s painstaking work, clearing cents on the dollar.

Girls spend their school vacations working to clear enough profit to buy a $15 school uniform they’ll wear for the year.

When these girls leave home and work to earn money for school, it’s not unlike young adults in the US going to college. But these girls may start at the age of 12. They’ll work their way through six years of school before they can think about vocational training or college – which costs even more.

When a girl receives a scholarship and a school uniform, it frees her to focus on her studies. Isatu K. lives with her grandmother and said she no longer has the fear of being asked out of class to go home for school fees. It gives her a sense of security.

Schools depend on school fees for operating costs. During the school year, students who can’t pay the term’s fees have to leave and try to come up with the money. It’s humiliating and children feel rejected at this young age. With no money, they may have to drop out of school and repeat the grade next year.

A scholarship and a paid school uniform don’t just give a girl the chance to progress through school. They give her the self-esteem to be a success.

She’ll work less. And get back her childhood.

Staying in school, she has a future.

For $17, you can keep a girl like Alima in school for the whole year with a scholarship. $35 pays for a scholarship and a school uniform.

Open up her world. Click here: I want to send a girl to school.


Open up her world. Give a girl a scholarship.

Campaign 7-25-17 (2)

Isatu is a remarkable girl.  She’s an orphan determined to stay in school.  With help from Sherbro Foundation scholarships, she has made it to her senior year!

Each day is a challenge in Bumpeh Chiefdom, Sierra Leone. Isatu lost both her parents as a young girl. She lives with her aunt, a farmer, in their small village of mud houses outside Rotifunk. There’s no public transportation. Isatu and her friends get up before dawn and walk six miles to school.

After school, Isatu walks six miles again home, and then helps her aunt in the field, tending cassava, rice and greens. They grow their own food, but have little left to sell for income for school fees. Darkness comes by 6:30 year-round near the equator. Isatu can’t afford a lamp to study in the evening.

Yet Isatu has big plans. She wants to become a lawyer. She learned in Civics class that lawyers use the law to protect people. “I want to fight for my colleagues and people in the village against violence” and for better conditions, she says.  If Isatu hadn’t received a Sherbro Foundation scholarship, she wouldn’t be in school, and wouldn’t be learning about a world of jobs and careers.

Bumpeh Academy students – Isatu, left, Hellen and Alima

More Bumpeh Chiefdom girls than ever are in school. Nearly 900 girls were enrolled in the area’s five secondary schools at this term’s end.

But hundreds more want to go to school and don’t have $17 to pay the annual fee! Their families are struggling to earn $1 per day to put food on the table. Sierra Leone’s economy went into freefall after Ebola and has not recovered. Families can’t continue to support teenage girls, and many are pushed to marry at 16 and 17. They get pregnant too early. The cycle of poverty continues. Teen pregnancy keeps Sierra Leone’s maternal and infant mortality rates among the world’s highest.

In four years, Sherbro Foundation’s scholarship program has helped 450 girls enter – and stay – in school.

Girls with scholarships work harder in school in order to keep them. They know there’s competition. They now have bigger goals, and pregnancies are reduced to only a few.

Some graduates will go on to vocational training. Some like Isatu are determined to go to college. They want to become the nurses, doctors, teachers, accountants, policewomen and lawyers their country desperately needs. With education, they all can move beyond the cycle of subsistence life that has long trapped their families.

But our scholarships have only helped a third of the girls enrolled. Even more want to go to school.

Now is a crucial time. With the new school year starting soon, you can give more of these girls the gift of attending school. You can:

  • Ensure 350 girls have the chance to go to school this year with a $17 scholarship.
  • Help girls progress into senior high and bring new 7th graders into junior high.
  • Provide a new uniform for 7th graders and 10th graders starting in new schools.

With a strong U.S. dollar, giving is a great bargain. Your $50 will sponsor three junior-high students to make the important leap to secondary school. Or ensure that three older girls can focus on graduation.

$35 will send a girl to school for an entire year AND outfit her with a school uniform. Where else can $35 do as much good as educating a girl?

More good news:  Our Board pledges to match each gift. You’ll help twice as many girls!

It’s easy to donate online: Click here. We welcome checks sent to: Sherbro Foundation, 3723 Sachem Ave., Cincinnati, OH 45226.

Bumpeh Chiefdom’s girls tell us: “We’re ready to learn.”

You’ll open up their world to new possibilities by giving girls a scholarship.

Thank you!

Arlene Golembiewski, Chris Golembiewski, Cheryl Farmer and Steve Papelian

— The Sherbro Foundation Board of Directors

P.S. Isatu and her fellow students are so grateful to you for expanding their world. Won’t you help a few more of her friends? If you do so now, they can be ready for school in September!