Anne Wadsworth, Executive Director of the Girls Education Collaborative (GEC), envisions a world in which all people have access to basic resources, opportunities for growth, and autonomy over their own life directions.
And although she recognizes that there is no simple solution towards this vision, she believes that educating girls in critically impoverished areas will be key to creating a better future. She is not alone in this belief; studies confirm that girls’ education can have tremendous impacts on both a girl’s life and her community. Wadsworth explains, “When you educate a girl… you have this incredible ripple effect into breaking the chains of generational poverty, and helping decrease the impact on the earth’s resources. You also have more women emerging into positions of leadership. And when [the girl] becomes a woman, her children will be healthier and better-educated.”
This kind of holistic vision has been central to the Girls Education Collaborative since its founding in 2012. Its mission has led community partners to facilitate resource-sharing collaborations so that underserved communities can provide educational opportunities for girls and young women.
Primarily, GEC has done this work through a connection with the Immaculate Heart Sisters of Africa in the Mara region of Tanzania. Over the last few years, GEC has dedicated its resources to assisting the Immaculate Heart Sisters with the creation of a school for girls in the village of Kitenga. The Sisters wanted to open a school for many years, but progress was hindered by insufficient resources and infrastructure issues such as lack of electricity and running water, and unreliable roads.
Despite these obstacles, the Girls Education Collaborative decided to do whatever was needed to help the Sisters get the school up and running. With the dedicated support of many Buffalo-based partners – including Rich Products – GEC worked over five years on fundraising and multiple construction projects. Along with the Sisters, community members, and other international partners, GEC’s contributions allowed the Kitenga School for Girls to officially open in January 2017.
The Kitenga School for Girls is a tremendous success for GEC, and it is only the beginning of their opportunity-building projects. In the future, GEC hopes to deepen its engagement with the Kitenga School and also start forming new community partnerships.
As GEC moves forward, they are continually grateful to have Rich’s as a committed partner. Wadsworth explains, “Having partners who can think ahead down the road, and can make certain commitments over time really helps us be more strategic and impactful.” Rich Products, she explains, has been “very generous and strategic in their giving.” In fact, she notes that Rich’s will be the major donor to a new classroom building that will open in January. The gift will allow a whole other cohort of girls to start school, and ultimately expand the school’s impact for years to come.
Even as it has grown, the Girls Education Collaborative has remained true to its name, with international collaboration and relationship-building at its core. As Wadsworth says, “We believe that communities know what they need, and don’t always have access to the resources and expertise to see their visions come to fruition. By working hand in hand with a local initiative, we can provide resources and expertise and ‘thought-partnership’ to help make something incredible happen.”
Photo courtesy of Girls Education Collaborative