An organization in Buffalo is diligently working to build a girls school in a remote village in northern Tanzania. Tuesday evening, the Girls Education Collaborative brings in Pulitzer Prize winning New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof for a fundraising event.
In this Focus on Education report, WBFO's Eileen Buckley says this project will bring education to girls who are not attending class.
"When you educate a girl the ripple effect upon that education is enormous for communities," said
Anne Wadsworth, Executive Director of the Girls Education Collaborative.
The mission is to create opportunities and provide a pathway for these young women to have future careers. In the remote village, The Kitenga Village Project, is the heart of the project on one thousand acres of land -- a boarding school for girls is under construction. The organizations is working with nuns -- living and working in Tanzania -- The Immaculate Heart Sisters of Africa.
"Helping them get the infrastructure created, which is very problematic in these remote areas, where you have no roads, no running water, no electrification. To build a school is not an easy thing," stated Wadsworth.
Wadsworth traveled to the village this past July and was joined by one of the many devoted board members -- Pamela Hokanson -- an M & T Vice president and also works with the Buffalo Promise Neighborhood. Hokanson was amazed to see young women not in school.
"It was a profound effect on me to see so many women and girls working in the fields and just driving along the road and seeing them carry these heavy buckets on their head," said Hokanson. "And you visit schools and you would see boys and girls, and as you went up the levels, there would be just boys, and you would question the teachers and they would say but the girls, they don't show up anymore or they are married"
World-wide approximately 250-million girls live in poverty and need help breaking down barriers that prevent them from receiving an education. Helping to spread the word about the disparity is Nicholas Kristof. That is why Wadsworth invited him to speak about his work at Tuesday fundraising event at Kleinhans Music Hall in Buffalo.
"Nick is one of a very small handful of people, who a number of years ago started to tell the stories of women and girls around the word, and what life is truly like for millions upon millions of women and girls," said Wadsworth. "He really helped to raise global awareness."
Embracing the need to reach these girls in the remote areas of the word is Rich Products. the global corporation is a big supporter of the fundraiser.
"We have been a leader and a supporter of organizations in the food industry that look to improve the opportunities for women to advance their careers," said Bill Gisel, President and CEO of Rich Products.
Rich Products has provided $10,000 for Tuesday's fundraiser.
"We see up front and close the types of conditions that exists in some of these markets, and it's just undeniable how important it is for women to be put on a level playing field and to have the same opportunities as men do for these countries and societies to progress," noted Gisel in a WBFO News interview.
And even though the boarding school remains under construction, Wadsworth noted there has been great progress over the last year. A health clinic opened associated with the school has opened offering health care for the first time. "There's now a doctor and a nurse caring for members of this community that really, until that clinic, had no access to health care," said Wadsworth.
"The educated brothers of these girls come back and say to their fathers 'we must send our sisters to school', and they've been a force to get their sisters to go to school," said Hokanson.
The school will include a library to be named after the late Alice Kryzan, a local attorney and community leader, who died three years ago of cancer. There will also be a science center and housing for teachers.
"The teachers will be local," said Wadsworth. "Some of the teachers will come from the Sisters own community. The school, when it's completely built out, will be 1,500 girls -- kindergarten through high school. The secondary school, which opens first, will be 600 girls, so they will be hiring teachers from outside of their own religious order. There will be lay teachers there."
"It's going to be a phenomenal experience for those girls," said Hokanson.
Desks, chairs and science materials and tablets will all be needed for the future school. Wadsworth will return to the Tanzania village in about six weeks for a site visit. An opening date for this girl’s boarding school does not exist as they region they are building causing many obstacles.
"Suddenly this year -- heavy rains every afternoon. So our builders on the ground are getting their day cut in half. There is just one challenge after another," said Wadsworth.