Follow-up on a story: Fund for Malawi Girls

Fund for Malawi Girls : On July 6, we published "What it's like to live on $1 a day." Reporter Xanthe Scharff wrote about how the Bonefesi family in Malawi earned - and spent - their income. At least two dozen Monitor readers responded with offers of financial support, so The First Church of Christ, Scientist (the publisher of this paper) agreed to set up a fund. Xanthe, who was in Malawi on an unpaid internship with CARE, went to the village of Bowa with the pledges of support.

The village held a meeting earlier this month. The chief suggested setting up a committee to oversee a scholarship fund to help girls complete high school. The committee consists of a group of women who were taught economic planning in a 2002 CARE project, and two men. Four girls have been selected to receive scholarship money. One of the girls is Selina Bonefesi's daughter, Anesi. She left school in 8th grade, and several Monitor readers specifically expressed an interest in helping her.

The committee (calling itself the Advancement of Girls Education Project or AGE) wrote guidelines for the scholarship fund. They outlined rules for transparency and accountability as well as the commitments that the girls would have to make. For example, the girls must abstain from marriage while in school (local custom dictates that a girl drops out after marriage) and counsel younger girls about school.

While this is not an official CARE project, CARE has agreed to help set up a local bank account and occasionally monitor the progress of the program at their own expense. Any further donations to the Bowa fund will be transferred to the account in Malawi.

At the close of the village meeting, a local teacher said: "These girls will be a torch for our village. If you educate a girl, you educate the nation."

Donations may be sent to:

The Monitor Readers' Bowa Fund
Treasurer's Dept, A10-01
The First Church of Christ, Scientist
175 Huntington Ave.
Boston, MA 02115

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