We’re kicking off the 2019-20 Girls Scholarship campaign to keep Bumpeh Chiefdom girls in school – and send more to senior high than ever before.
The 460 girls you sent to secondary school this past year are counting on us to return them to class in September. In our seventh campaign, we’re optimistic with your help we can meet – and hopefully beat – this goal.
Educating girls is one the highest impact things we can do to lift women and their communities out of poverty.
“No single change can do more to improve the state of the world.” — Melinda Gates on elevating the state of women.
Education is where it starts.
It’s amazing that for Sierra Leone girls it can start with a $30 scholarship. But you already know that.
With your generosity, Sherbro Foundation’s scholarship program has grown year by year. More Bumpeh Chiefdom girls are entering junior high and advancing to senior high. We even started two college scholarships. And we gave an additional 10 percent of scholarships (46) last year for the most vulnerable secondary boys.
Imagine the impact we’ll have in one community by returning 506 teens (460 girls plus 46 boys) And keep our college students moving through their degrees. We would be thrilled to do even more this year with your help.
Girls like Humu are waiting. You’re helping her beat all odds.
When I first saw Humu’s photo I thought, there’s a tall, slender, poised girl. A 16-year-old often shoots up in height, thin until she fills out. But I found there are other reasons why Humu is so slender.
Humu is an orphan living with her grandparents, left, subsistence farmers in Mokebbie village, seven miles outside Rotifunk. She walks there every day to attend secondary school. Walking 14 miles a day, every day, would make anyone rail thin.
Humu gets up before dawn and leaves home before 6:30 a.m. to reach school by 8. It’s the rainy season; downpours often start at dawn. She could be soaked when she arrives at Bumpeh Academy. When the heaviest monsoon rains fall, she may be forced to stay home and miss school.
Scholarships keep Humu in school. Quiet and serious, Humu is completing junior school with her second Sherbro Foundation scholarship. She’s intent on finishing school and going beyond.
Humu attends our partner CCET-SL’s after-school tutoring program, left, also funded by Sherbro Foundation, that prepares girls for their senior high entrance exam.
Given the distance to her home, she must stay in town until the 4 p.m. classes begin.
This means Humu can’t go home for the day’s main – and perhaps only – meal. She’ll go twelve hours or more without eating, after walking 14 miles.
I was concerned for Humu’s safety walking this distance alone in the dark. I was relieved to hear she walks with several other Mokebbie village students.
It will be 7:30 P.M. before she returns home and can finally have her main meal for the day.
Humu is focused on what she can do after graduating. “I want to become a bank manager, to repay my grandparents who brought me up after the death of my parents.”
Humu is thinking in practical terms of how she can earn a living. Beyond teaching and nursing, banking is one of the few wage-paying professions a village girl like Humu can observe and aspire to.
Scholarships reduce dropouts. Support to continue beyond 9th grade is critical in a Sierra Leone girl’s education, when many parents can no longer afford to keep her in school. Younger children may need their chance for education. Girls may already have had an interrupted education, and at 16 to 18, they’re seen as old enough to work on the farm or trade in the market. Early marriage and pregnancy typically follow, ending a girl’s chance for a better life.
A very modest $30 scholarship changes that. Sherbro Foundation has supported 789 girls over the last four years with 1684 scholarships. Because of your help, nearly 800 girls have had a chance to reach for their potential and embark on new lives.
Of these, 252 received repeat scholarships for three or four years, enabling many to complete junior high or senior high. A record 170 made it to senior high on scholarship this year alone.
Humu wants to move out of the endless cycle of poverty that’s trapped her family for generations. Her grandparents care for ten children in their three-room mud brick house. With a total of sixteen in their household, it’s packed at night with children sleeping on straw floor mats. Subsistence farmers, her family grows most of what they eat and barters much of what’s left. That leaves little cash to pay school expenses. They sent their deep thanks for the scholarships that have enabled Humu to stay in school.
Humu’s science teacher says she’s a very good student and does well in math and science. She’s always ready with answers for biology, chemistry and physics questions. He told her grandparents to encourage her to pursue the sciences. The Sierra Leone government is encouraging girls in STEM fields by offering college scholarships.
But for now, Humu needs a $30 scholarship to advance to senior high and stay on her path to college.
We’re increasing the cost of a scholarship this year from $25 to $30. Prices keep going up in Sierra Leone’s post-Ebola economy with a 17% annual inflation rate. But we’re also expanding the award package.
This year’s $30 scholarship package includes a wonderful addition to the school uniform and notebooks we supplied last year. All girls will get a Days for Girls menstrual hygiene kit with washable shields and pads to keep girls in school every day of the month. Here’s a glimpse of what it’s like girls like Humu to manage their monthly periods when they can’t afford Western style feminine hygiene products.
We are blessed to be the beneficiaries of Schools for Salone, another nonprofit for Sierra Leone led by a former Peace Corps volunteer. They funded a Days for Girls workshop hand-making the kits in Sierra Leone. They’ve offered us kits discounted from $8.50 to only $1.25 each! We are grateful Schools for Salone is sharing their good fortune so Bumpeh Chiefdom girls no longer need to miss school every month because of their periods.
There’s no better way to change a girl’s life than to send her to school.
The lives of nearly 800 girls you’ve sent to school have been immeasurably changed — 460 last year alone. Through their educations, they’re changing Sierra Leone, too, and speeding its development as a country.
We know our seventh annual Scholarship Campaign will be more successful than ever with your support. Join us now with your gift and send a girl to school. Every dollar goes to students. SF is all-volunteer and pay our own admin costs. Thank you!
— Arlene Golembiewski, Executive Director
P.S. Stay tuned to meet our college scholarship awarded we want to return to college and more of our secondary-school scholarship awardees.
P. P. S. SF supporters have given in many ways. As you think about giving, consider these.