Remembering a daughter, educating a village

Their daughter, Elizabeth, died in a bicycle accident in 2002 while serving as a Peace Corps volunteer inBeth
Zambia. Linda and Gerry Bowers are keeping her memory alive by doing something that would make her very proud: educating underprivileged Zambian girls. The Oregon couple, who are receiving a commendation from the Peace Corps, created a memorial fund for Elizabeth that evolved into the Elizabeth Bowers Zambia Education Fund.

So far, 85 women in grades eight through 12,
who call themselves Beth’s girls, have received Zambia Education Fund
scholarships, which pay for everything from school and exam fees to
tutoring. When the fund started, only four girls from the village were
going to school.

Then and now, the only
school in the village is Lumwana West Basic School, which goes up to
grade nine. Students who want to go to high school — grades 10 through
12 — must travel to the next town over, Mwinilunga. Scholarships help
pay their boarding costs.

Since 2004,
about 25 women have continued on to high school with the help of the
Education Fund. Three have graduated, including Prudence Masanyinga,
who has gone on to study sociology at a government institute. [Link]

Getting an education is a prudent thing to do, as Prudence would say.

"The
most rewarding part of this project is how the education of the girls
in this village will eventually expand to improve families and society
in Zambia," said Karen Chittick, secretary of the nonprofit’s board of
directors. "You’re not just giving a girl an education. They will
return to the village as role models for other girls." [Link]

They’ll be models for the boys, too — not the kind with great figures, but the kind who can figure things out.

Beyond
supporting schooling, the Bowers’ fund is paying for the construction
of the village’s first library, a project initiated by Peace Corps
volunteer Bob Wilder. [Link]

The first library! Before you know it, the villagers will be getting together to discuss the latest selection from Oprah’s Book Club.

The
Bowerses hope to make an even bigger difference as they grow their
organization and move into its second phase of development. The goal is
to help more women complete high school and assist the qualified ones
to go to college.

To do that, however, the
Bowerses said they need to raise more money. [Link]

You can donate money here. Any amount is fine. Your figure doesn’t have to be great to make you a good model.

 

If you enjoyed this piece, you'll love Melvin's novel Bala Takes the Plunge, available in North America through Amazon.com and McNallyRobinson.com You can also find it at major bookstores in India and Sri Lanka or online at FlipKart, IndiaPlaza, FriendsofBooks or other sites. A number of readers have written reviews of the novel. An excerpt of the novel can be read here.

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