17 August 2015

mo' money mo' education.

Many times on our blog and in our newsletters, you'll see a link, asking you to click and donate to support our work in Tanzania. We've explained before where some of this money will end up. "But is there anything new and cool you guys are doing?" you ask yourself.

Yes, there is!

Recently, over the last few months, we've started using these dollah dollah bills for a brand-spankin' new and really exciting program for both the Lulu Project - my ministry - and Education for Better Living Organization (EBLI) - Michael's ministry.

Want to see where your money could go? Read on for more pretty awesome stuff…

As many of you faithful readers out there know, I am a co-coordinator for an awesome program in Mwanza, Tanzania called Lulu Project. Our main aim is to help young women, between the ages of 14 and 20 who have been unable to finish their education, build up their self-esteem, create goals, and build better futures for themselves. This is a pretty big goal and with up to 200 women involved in the project at any one time, we (the two of us coordinators) need some serious help in order to even try to accomplish this.

That's where our 25 peer facilitators come in. These young women have been through the Lulu Project themselves, seen its benefits, and want to spread that message on to others. Once a student, they become our teachers. They travel to our 11 Lulu groups spread across the city of Mwanza twice a week, teaching various lessons on health, relationships, financial literacy, and entrepreneurship. We rely on them… like, a lot.

But we also encourage the Lulu peer facilitators to continue reaching their goals outside of their Lulu commitments. And to do that, many would benefit from additional education.

So to help them reach their goals, I introduced the Lulu Scholarship Fund, made possible by the donations that Michael and I receive from friends and family through Maryknoll Lay Missioners.

The Lulu Scholarship Fund is available to Lulu peer facilitators who have been working with us for at least six months. Through a short application, they can ask to enroll in any short course offered in Mwanza. By short course, we mean any course that can be completed in a year or less. They also have to show that whomever they live with also agrees to this situation, as more education means less time spent in the home, helping with house chores.

In addition, each facilitator can apply for tuition funds for their child every year! So far, through the fund, we've been able to pay for two children to attend school - one of whom will be able to attend a fantastic English-medium Montessori run by a Maryknoll Sister! And two semesters cost us only 100 buckeroos. Pretty cheap for a quality education in Tanzania, huh? In January, we already have four children signed up to receive $200 in tuition to go to school as well. 

But we didn't stop there. After seeing such positive feedback from the Lulu peer facilitators, Michael rolled out a similar initiative. As many of you also know, Michael works at a local NGO called EBLI  teaching business skills to young mothers who dropped out of secondary school due to pregnancy. They learn how to choose, start and run their own business. Michael also helps those not suitable for entrepreneurship to gain employment.

To further empower these young women - particularly those looking to be employed - Michael introduced the EBLI Scholarship Fund. This opportunity is made available to those young mothers who have completed EBLI computer literacy and business skills training, and have enrolled in an EBLI saving and loaning group. Much like the Lulu Scholarship Fund, EBLI young mothers are able to apply for tuition funds to be used in any short course here in Mwanza. Examples of a short course include learning English or a particular trade, such as tailoring, stylist, soap-making or hotel management. Additionally, the young mothers can apply for tuition funds for the education of their children.

We have Lulu facilitators and EBLI young mothers who would like to go on and do more than the short course option we've given them. Many have expressed that they'd like to become teachers, trained to teach in the better-paying private schools. Others have said they'd like to complete the two-year course that would enable them to attain their secondary school certificate, a necessary tool for gaining employment with a living wage, the cost of which is about $500 per student. Unfortunately, at this time, we don't have the funds to make such long-term educational goals a reality.

Would you like to be a part of making that a reality for our young women? If so, click here to donate to our Ministry Account with Maryknoll Lay Missioners and make it happen, Cap'n!

As we fulfill more tuition requests for Lulu facilitators, EBLI young mothers and their children, we'll try to post more on this blog about their stories and what, together, we are making possible. Thank you again and again for supporting our work and fulfilling dreams for these young Tanzanian women and their children!

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