‘Motivation’ Scholarships for Teens Headed to College (1/3) – Leela

In 2018, we were honoured to award small, but meaningful scholarships to three young women, through the LA County Department for Children and Family Services. All three teenagers, who have grown up in the foster care system, are going to college!

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We are incredibly moved and inspired by the fierce tenacity, ambition and resilience of these young women, and we hope you will be too. Read Leela’s story below.

[Names have been changed to protect identities]

 

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Annual Fundraiser 2018 starts today!!

What better day to launch our annual fundraiser than today – HAPPY INTERNATIONAL DAY OF THE GIRL!

GGRF-Ethiopia

Help us raise $5000 to support our program partnerships for 2019. No amount is too little, every penny counts, as the grants we provide to our partners, with your support, may be small but very impactful. Our grants help pilot or expand initiatives by small, on-the-ground organizations who work directly with girls and young women at risk. Our scholarships help remove financial burdens which can limit opportunities for girls, while also recognizing the hard work, motivation and inspiration that drives them to do better for themselves and their families.

Click here to donate!
(or copy/paste this link into your browser: https://www.crowdrise.com/o/en/campaign/good-for-girls-annual-fundraiser-2018)

What are you helping us to do?
Since 2014, we have partnered with the Girls Gotta Run Foundation in Ethiopia, where child marriage is a serious problem and girls are often taken out of school once they reach puberty. We have helped them pilot and expand initiatives that reach girls through athletics and a life skills program. Through scholarships, girls train as runners, and learn about issues that affect their lives such as nutrition, healthy relationships, and financial literacy. The running team represents a ‘safe space’ and peer-support group, and the scholarships help remove any financial burdens on the girls’ families so they can stay enrolled in school. We also support a Savings Group for the mothers of these girls (many of whom are single mothers) to provide a peer-learning environment where they can better their livelihood skills to support their families. From just 15 girls 3 years ago, today we help GGRF provide scholarships to 90 girls, and 35 of their mums. Importantly, because our grants are part of a long-term partnership and not a one-off or ad-hoc, this helps our partner better budget and plan their programs each year, helping to ensure their work is sustainable.

In 2018, we were also honoured to award small, but meaningful scholarships to three young women, through the LA County Department for Children and Family Services. All three teenagers, who have grown up in the foster care system, are going to college!(Watch this space for excerpts from essays written by these young ladies that will move and inspire you!)

(Photo credit: Girls Gotta Run Foundation)

 

Moms Making Money and a Better Life

Happy Mother’s Day!

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This Mother’s Day, we’re thinking especially about the moms who belong to the two Savings and Entrepreneurship Groups in Bekoji, Ethiopia, set up by our partner, the Girls Gotta Run Foundation. These women are the mothers of the girls in the GGRF Athletic Scholars programme* (proudly supported by us since 2013!)

The Savings groups for mothers were started in 2016 as a complement to the athletic scholarships, and are meant to be an inclusive, and community-based approach to confronting some of the broader cultural barriers and gender discrimination faced by women and girls in Ethiopia. Since many women cannot discuss or participate in financial decisions in their families, these groups offer a safe space for such discussions, and a means of learning how to start and grow small businesses to become financially resilient.

Each group consists of 20 members who meet once a week and encourage each other to save a specific sum of money both as ‘regular’ and ‘social’ savings. These are then used in small micro-credit schemes for individual members. Regular savings can be borrowed against for their personal business or family needs, while social savings (a smaller sum than regular) are pooled and used to help one another pay for various community/family affairs such as weddings, bereavements, and other social occasions.

Since they first got together, all the women say they have formed strong bonds with each other, changed their attitudes towards saving money, and learned important skills such as cash management, budgeting and book-keeping which have helped to improve their livelihoods. They are now able to provide daily meals for their families and can afford to send their children to school, where in the past they couldn’t.

In 2018, one of the groups (Tigil Fire) hopes to launch something new – a group shop, where together, members can sell their homemade products such as traditional alcohol, baskets, grains, spices, and injera. At present, on their own, they are only able to sell their products at the market twice a week. The group shop will allow them to collectively do this every day instead, and therefore significantly boost their income. The success of the Savings Group mothers has attracted support from the local authorities who are providing free space for the shop right in the center of town.

Watch this short video about the Savings Group Mothers (courtesy of GGRF).

A portion of the funds raised by Good for Girls in 2018 will go towards supporting the efforts of the Savings Groups.

*In 2015, GGRF started an Athletic Scholarship programme in Bekoji where girls participate on a running team, and complete a life skills and leadership curriculum. The median marriage age in Bekoji is 15, so adolescent girls are especially vulnerable to being taken out of school and married off. The scholarships help remove financial pressures on families and encourage more positive attitudes towards girls’ education and delayed marriage. The girls complete the program after 3 years armed with skills and knowledge to better tackle challenges they may face as they grow into adults.

Meet Merawit

This is the story of Merawit Metekia, a slip of a girl with an infectious smile and a whole lot of heart. Merawit has become an inspiration to her family, and living proof that when you educate a girl, the ripple benefits to families and communities can be invaluable.

Abba_day 1 Merawit Metekiya11At age 10, Merawit has just graduated from the Girls Gotta Run Foundation (GGRF) Athletic Scholar program in her home town of Sodo, Ethiopia. The three-year program was piloted at the Abba Pascal school for girls in Sodo in 2014, as an intervention initiative targeting adolescent girls at high risk of child marriage. Scholarships were provided to a first co-hort of 15 girls, who would train as runners, and undergo a life-skills course on important issues that affect their lives such as nutrition, healthy relationships, and financial literacy. The running team represents a ‘safe space’ where girls can focus on health and fitness, and get peer support to build their self-esteem, and ability to assert their right to choose when to marry. The scholarships help remove any financial burden the girls’ families may have, to keep them enrolled in school — US$600/year covers the cost of daily meals, uniforms, books and tutoring, access to school clubs/library, showers and hygiene supplies, and soap to wash clothes on the weekend. Also included is healthcare for the girls and their mothers, running gear, fees and transport to races during the year, and oversight by a coach and life-skills mentor.

Merawit and her 4 younger siblings live in a modest home about an hour’s walk from her school. Her father, Metekia Buche Selato, is an Orthodox Christian priest, and her mother, Roman Woldezelde, tends to their small home farm plot where they grow a little corn, coffee, false banana, and fruit, and raise chickens. Roman was married at 18 and had Merawit that same year. She stopped her education at Grade 8 to care for her family. Both she and her husband jumped at the chance to have Merawit become an athletic scholar. Metekia said he chose to put his daughters at Abba Pascal, a private school, despite barely being able to afford it. “We can’t afford private school but we have no choice because the government school does not create a positive environment for learning for girls. So we are very happy that Merawit has been selected for this program. She runs in the morning before school now, too.”

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Merawit at running practice with her schoolmates

“Merawit has changed a lot (since joining the GGRF program),” said Roman. “She listens to us, she has improved in her education. Before her average in school was not good but now, she does well. I remember that because of finance (problems), I made her drop out of her former school. Providing her lunch was my other challenge. Now this problem has been solved.” Furthermore said Roman, “she shares with me what she brings from the project like soap. She gets lunch, clothes, uniform, soap, plenty to share with her sisters.”

Merawit’s mother explained how her daughter’s participation in the GGRF program inspired her and her husband to further their education, helped their family afford to keep their children in school, and helped Merawit grow into a strong student and leader. “After Merawit joined this project, my husband got inspired to get new education (and completed college). I continued my education and we put (Merawit’s) sister into school. Merawit has been advising me to continue my education and she would say that by learning we will change our lives. She would encourage me.” Roman went back to school and has completed grades 9 and 10, and is currently in grade 11. This is a significant achievement – the 11th and 12th grade is the equivalent of pre-college studies in Ethiopia – only a very small percentage of women complete this level of education in the country.

“I hope to do well in school and if I succeed, I will change the life of my family. I hope bigger things for Merawit. After achieving her goal, I hope that she could in turn support others.” “Also,” she added, “before, our house was not painted, it did not have a ceiling, we had only wooden chairs, we did not have doors. Now, the house has been painted, the ceiling has been made and we bought new chairs. There have been many changes.”

Metekia says that people in their small farming community are also being inspired by Merawit — many have come to him at his church to say how she’s grown and changed. Her physical and mental growth has made her a role model for others to start running and focus on school, he said.

[Good for Girls has been a proud partner of GGRF since 2014, when we helped them pilot the Athletic Scholarship program in Sodo. With the generous support of our donors, we have continued to partner with them, helping to expand the program to Bekoji. From 15 in 2014, today there are 100 girls on athletic scholarships!]

Merawit and mum

Merawit and her mother Roman Woldezelde

[All pictures courtesy of Girls Gotta Run Foundation].