Monday, November 18, 2013

"The education and empowerment of women throughout the world cannot fail to result in a more caring, tolerant, just and peaceful life for all." -- Aung San Suu Kyi

 In yesterday's blog, I wrote about Edina's daughter, Paulina, who in now in university studying nursing.  What I failed to mention was that eight years ago, when she was still a little girl, my wife began teaching Paulina English.  She was too old to attend the regular English class here, so Karen taught her every Saturday--one-to-one.  Karen has also taught Amos's two son's English (they are now seniors in high school) as well as Bwana Masele's daughter who is now a teacher in our own Santa Caryn Pierce Academy here on our grounds.  Karen has been leading the fight, in her own small way, to get the education of women and the poor on the front burner.  Her insistence on feeding her students has not yet spilled over into government schools, but it has been added to several of the boarding schools in our area.  She has been a champion of educating the poor, neglected, and marginalized since she started teaching in 1965.  She taught in a Los Angeles ghetto for twelve years, taught rural poor in Arkansas, and in her last official position, taught the students of Hispanics and people from the Marshall Islands who have a large community in Springdale, Arkansas.  It was the method of teaching those with no English at all (called Starfall) that she has brought to Africa and has been having great results with the students here.  The students from her English class always get the highest marks on the national English test resulting in a two-year waiting list for her class here and having the parents of the students here wanting Karen to teach them for two or three years in a row.  She is very modest about what she has done here, but her teaching techniques (she also teaches the students at the Teachers College from time to time) and her personal example and mentoring have made huge differences in the lives of many Tanzanian women.  If you have been following our scholarship program, you will have noticed in many of the pictures how many women are learning to be teachers.  Not that she neglects the boys because they, like the sons of Amos, are also doing quite well and leading their classes.  Most importantly though, as Isabel Allende writes, "Giving women education, work, the ability to control their own income, inherit and own property, benefits the society. If a woman is empowered, her children and her family will be better off.  If families prosper, the village prospers, and eventually so does the whole country."  In our own small way, through our sponsorship and help with establishing preschools at each of our churches (our goal is 24, but right now we have five), we, too, are a part of the solution and not a part of the problem.  It is one of the things God called us to do here.

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