August is here and (not surprisingly) we’re already in the thick of back to school (BTS) season. Advertisements and commercials jam-packed with fun, new fashion trends and school supplies to boost productivity are a dime a dozen. For most, it’s an exciting time – for parents, kids are going back to school and getting into a better routine and for kids, it’s all about new beginnings, from teachers and peers to subject matter. Unfortunately, that excitement isn’t shared around the globe. In fact, for most girls and women, it’s not even a reality.
Education is the conduit for girls and women to create better lives not only for themselves, but their families, communities and countries – and quality schooling is the means by which to achieve this. That said, far too many lack the basic tools to help them learn effectively. And trying to teach without the proper classroom supplies is like sending soldiers to war with no weapons: impossible.
This is precisely why The Circle of Sisterhood (CofS) exists today – to tear down those barriers and provide access to education for girls and women across the globe. While part of CofS’ work entails school builds, providing villages with the infrastructure, that’s only half the battle. Supplies from books and pencils, to uniforms and computers are still paramount to creating an environment for successful learning.
But rather than talk about it, let us show you how we at CofS put our money where our mouth is. Here are a handful of grant projects CofS has funded over the years that are providing basic classroom necessities to further girls’ and women’s education:
Shining Hope for Communities combats extreme poverty and gender inequity by linking girls’ education to a comprehensive set of health and social services in Nairobi, Kenya. To achieve this, Shining Hope founded The Kibera School for Girls (KSG), the first entirely free primary school in the area. CofS awarded the organization a $5,000 grant for general program support at KSG, which includes two daily meals, uniforms, health care and school supplies – all free of charge to Kibera’s brightest and most disadvantaged girls.
The EKARI Foundation’s mission is to provide the resources necessary for the poor and excluded to life themselves out of poverty. A $3,500 grant from CofS enabled the EKARI Foundation to provide six girls in Malawi with tuition, boarding fees, meals, uniforms, transportation home during holidays and basic necessities such as soap, feminine products, notebooks and an allowance for school needs.
Bead for Life’s mission is to eradicate extreme poverty by creating bridges of understanding between impoverished Africans and concerned citizens of the world. A grant from CofS funded the secondary education of six girls in Northern Uganda, including tuition, school supplies, mattresses, uniforms, staff support and empowerment activities.
In the high Mixteca area of Oaxaca, Mexico, 70 percent of adult women are illiterate. Illiteracy and gender inequality are the primary causes of economic and educational disadvantage. Through a CofS grant, Circle of Women was able to coordinate a program aimed at helping women become self-sufficient by providing funding for a new teacher for one year, covering all necessary teacher travel, as well as program supplies.
The SOLD Project offers scholarships and resources to at-risk children in rural Thailand to keep them off the path to prostitution and give them hope for a better future. Through a CofS grant, the organization was able to provide three laptop computers for older girls entering vocational school.
Quality schooling is the great emancipator from poverty and despair, providing a better life for women and their families. But this is not possible without the appropriate tools for students to succeed. CofS is proud to be one of the driving forces arming these amazing organizations with the supplies they need to empower women and girls around the globe through education.
Written by Gina Orlando Devine