The Mwalimu Project
In Meru, Kenya is a small girls' school which struggles to keep its students coming back. It's not that the students don't like Mwalimu Academy. They are excited to learn. And they are excited for the promising future that is available through education. But most of their parents are subsistence farmers and they cannot afford even the modest fees it takes to send a girl to school. Some girls can only stay for one term. And then they must return to the fields to work until they raise enough money to come back. Or they give up and stay home.
"My family plants crops like corn, beans, peas and potatoes. They also keep animals like cows and goats. Sometimes we lack enough rainfall to grow our crops which give us money. That makes me not have the school fees." - Judy M.
And it's not just school fees that need to be covered. There's the expense of transportation, and the cost of basic toiletries like soap, toothpaste and sanitary supplies. Learning is hard work. But not having that opportunity is even harder.
The hard facts are:
- In a majority of poverty-stricken nations, there is little motivation
to educate girls especially if they can go to work instead of going to
- Girls are often viewed as a liability to be married off as soon as
possible while a family or tribe will pool resources to move a promising
- Education is the key to hope and a better life
Statistically, the return on investment for every girl who graduates from high school as an educated woman is a huge societal win: They educate their own children, they are far less likely to contract AIDS, and both marriage and motherhood are delayed which result in more mature wives and mothers.
"Educating girls yields a higher rate of return than any other investment
available in the developing world." - World Bank
In Kenya, Money Just Might Grow On Trees
Mwalimu Academy owns a 40-acre coffee plantation, but has not found an effective and reliable way to turn those coffee beans into cash. Now That You Know Foundation is working with Mwalimu Academy and the farmers that work their land to export these beans directly to an American retail market. That's thousands of pounds of shade-grown equatorial coffee beans. The farmers will be paid fairly. And the school will have more funds available to help its neediest students. At Now That You Know™, we believe self-reliance is a beautiful thing. We'd rather give a hand up than a hand-out.