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Old 02-07-2006, 03:21 PM   #1
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Christian Science Monitor Readers Fund Scholarships For African Girls

some of the article

CHITUKULA, MALAWI - Leaning intently forward in the front row of a classroom, Alifisina Chilembwe is perched on the metal frame of a bench (the wooden seat was taken out and sold). But she couldn't be more grateful to be here, soaking up the day's lessons. This Malawian teenager wants to be a lawyer. And thanks to the generosity of Monitor readers, she's a step closer to becoming one.

Alifisina is one of six recipients of a scholarship funded by readers. After an article ran last July about a woman in Alifisina's village, 40 readers sent in some $6,000. If not for that money, the girls would be hoeing in their parents' fields all day or hauling buckets of water on their heads.

Instead, the scholarship is opening new worlds. "I want to go to university and be a doctor," says another beneficiary, ninth-grader Efelo Sekani. "My parents are the happiest people in the village."

But all has not gone according to plan. In one case, the effort ran headlong into the cultural and economic realities - including witchcraft - that keep so many African girls out of school.

The story of these girls' connection to Monitor readers began when the Monitor profiled Selina Bonefesi, a feisty, industrious mom in rural Malawi. Like millions in Africa, her family was surviving on just one dollar a day. She'd spend 8 cents a week on tomatoes at the market, for instance, and scrimped to save $1.25 a week - but couldn't afford to send her oldest daughter, Anne, to high school.

Readers' response was intense. Many said they wanted to help Anne and other girls go to school. A scholarship was set up to enable all seven of the girls in the village who'd completed middle school to continue studying.

During tough times in Africa, girls are the first to leave school. A recent UN study of eight African nations found an average of only 73 girls in school for every 100 boys. Girls are often seen as providers of manual labor - not potential breadwinners. When families are forced by limited finances to choose which child will be schooled, it's usually a boy - as he's likely to develop more earning power to help his family.

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Old 02-07-2006, 04:19 PM   #2
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I'm glad she's getting to go to school. Maybe she'll become a lawyer some day.

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Old 02-07-2006, 05:41 PM   #3
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direct, real, meaningful action

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