Academic Study Camp in Tanzania - June 2017

Our June 2017 Academic Study Camp in Tanzania was a great success! We're happy to share these notes from the field!

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Visiting Gombe National Park

The Sunday prior to camp, we took our students to Gombe National Park, which is located 10 miles north of Kigoma on the shore of Lake Tanganyika. Our students had the opportunity to sit for an hour and observe the G Family, a group of chimpanzees who are most accustomed to people. They are the family that Jane Goodall did much of her early research with. If you ever read about the chimps in Gombe, you've likely read about Gremlin, Gaia, Gimli, and the other famous G-family chimps.The two 'toddlers' in the family provided boundless entertainment for us.

Our students sitting with the G Family at Gombe National Park - learning through observation.

Our students sitting with the G Family at Gombe National Park - learning through observation.

Our students observed, took notes, asked questions of the guides and marveled in the lush habitat that the Jane Goodall Institute has striven to protect for decades. These students live in the villages surrounding Gombe, yet they had never visited. We hope that among the 43 students on the trip, many were inspired to become educators, researchers, and stewards of wildlife and wild places!

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Life at Study Camp

The students arrived in Kigoma town from their respective villages on Saturday, June 3rd. Their parents escorted them, dropped them off, and wished them well as they settled in for 30 days at the Kichangachui Secondary School. One of the classrooms was converted into a dorm room for the girls, where they sleep together with Mama Amina, who is also our head chef.

On the first day of camp, the enormous water tanks were empty (dry season) so the girls had to collect buckets of water from a neighboring villager. But in the meantime, Lucas hired a truck to pump water from the lake. This water filled the tanks and will be used for washing and cooking. We also purchased drinking water from town. During rainy season, water is not an issue - but we learn to roll with the punches in Tanzania!

From 7:30-3pm, the girls study subjects in alternating blocks from day to day: Chemistry, Biology, History, Geography, English, Math and Swahili. After lunch and a rest, they resume at 4:30 with peer instruction aimed to review the concepts they encountered during the day. During these small group sessions, a more advanced peer leads the others as they do homework, solve problems, clarify confusing concepts, etc. It was remarkable to see them in action and on task.

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Peer Support

Students teach one another Chemistry

After dinner, they have some free time, followed by one final push for homework before bed.

Professional Campers

For all the students in our program, this is their second time at study camp. Since they had the experience in December, they are all pro-campers now! Madaga, our Education Specialist noted how this time around, there was far less management required by the teachers when it came time for students to group up and engage in discussions. They knew where to be and what to do. They stayed on task for the duration of the peer-instruction session and demonstrated their desire and willingness to apply what they had learned.

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History with Madaga

Students listen to a dynamic lecture about the role of colonists in the formation of modern day Africa.

Form Four Girls - Onward and Upward

Our cohort of Form 4 girls has the added pressure of National Examinations in October. The results on these examinations determine whether or not they can continue through to A-level studies (Form 5 and 6; required for participation in University). I said to them: "Maybe one of you will be our first girl to go to Form 5." They all responded together, "All!" Well, I'll take that. If we can see all of them go on to Form 5, that would be truly amazing--a feat for any Tanzanian, but a truly remarkable accomplishment for students from village government schools. We know this study camp is essential in helping them realize this goal.

How Can You Help?

Each study camp costs around $3700. We know now that this camp is a catalyst for change, a key to success for our students. The cost of the camp covers two cooks (who prepare three meals per day for 46 students), our teachers (who are paid by the number of periods they teach per week), water, the watchmen (who keeps our girls safe all day and night), Mama Amina (who stays with the girls in the night and attends to any issues that arise with their health and emotional well-being), and any unforeseen situations (e.g., medications, first aid, trips to hospital, feminine hygiene products, etc.).

Girls Education International ensures that 70% of the funds we raise go directly to our programming (e.g., study camp, required textbooks, fees for those who the government issued to boarding school, etc.). A small additional percentage covers Lucas' salary as our in-country manager. And of course, our steady and essential partner, GlobalGiving earns their commission for helping us stay in touch with you, streamlining the process for reporting on our progress, sharing photos, and letting you know how you've made a difference. We spend a fraction on 'overhead' (e.g., board insurance, our PO Box in Colorado, and maintaining our 501(c)3 registration). We really can't be more transparent about it - we are a volunteer run organization and we appreciate your continued support.

Please do consider signing up to make a monthly contribution - of any amount. Sustained giving goes a long way to help us continue the work we're doing. You can share this blog entry with friends and let them know why Girls Education International matters to you. Make sure you follow us on Facebook for the most up to date reports, photos and other related news. Also, you can visit our website and learn more about how you can help by visiting our Support Tool Kit.

Year End Update from Girls Ed Pakistan

As the year comes to a close, we don't have a lot of news to report from the field. The girls are continuing their studies and our partner on the ground (Bedari) continues to refine the program. In the past we mentioned a tract that was added to augment the scholastic aspect of the program: a series of women's self-growth (health and social education) workshops. These have very successful and have kept the level of engagement in the program very high. 

After some experimentation in the field, Bedari has requested permission - which we granted - to substitute some of the workshops with "exposure" trips, where the girls are escorted to locations outside their immediate villages. We'll hear more about these in the coming months, but they have been welcomed by the girls, their families and communities.

It cannot be overstated how important family support has been in making this program a success.

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All Quiet on the Liberian Front

After the upheaval and turmoil caused by the Ebola epidemic in Liberia, it is a relief to report that our girls are back in their classrooms and quietly resuming their studies.

As you may remember, the Liberian government closed all schools for six months to help contain the disease. In order to get the students back on the traditional schedule, adminstrators decided that the 2014-15 school year would be only one semester long. All students in Liberia -- including the GEI-sponsored girls -- were promoted to the next grade when the 2015-16 school year began this fall.

Time will tell how educators will make up for the lost semester, but our girls are so happy to be back in school and continuing their educations!

If you look at the group shot of the students that accompanies this article, you'll see that many of our girls are actually young women. Their educations have been interrupted many times by civil war, Ebola and other crises, yet they continue to come back to school even though they may be past the traditional age in their classrooms. We think this speaks to the determination these young women have to complete their education in spite of the obstacles they meet. Won't you make a donation to sponsor their studies and help them become the leaders and workers that Liberia desperately needs?  

Pakistan - Summer 2015 Update

As summer comes to a close, our program continues in full swing thanks to your support. Summers in this part of Pakistan are very hot, sometimes passing the 120-degree (F) mark. Our students are typically given a summer break from mid-June to mid-August, but it doesn‘t mean it’s just free time for everyone. Generally, our students in grades 6-8 are already through their annual exam and are in the new class if they have passed. They get loads of homework to do during the two months’ break. Students in grades 9 and 10 have taken exams, but the results have not been announced, so they are free during these vacations while they await word on their scores. Students in 11th to 14th grades are usually busy in their annual exams during these very months.

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