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Pennsylvania congregation supports girls in Mozambique

UU's have found a way to help educate Mozambican girls.
By Staff Writer
Fall 2005 8.15.05

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Members of Unitarian Universalists of the Cumberland Valley in Boiling Springs, Pennsylvania, have found a way to help Mozambican girls stay in school. In Mozambique girls from rural villages do not customarily attend school, and those who do rarely continue beyond fifth grade. “But it’s been shown,” UUCV member Priscilla Laws explained, “that as girls get more education, the incidence of aids and the rates for poverty and pregnancy go down.”

In the past year the congregation has contributed $4,000 to support 25 girls in continuing their education past the fifth grade.

In the summer of 2004 Laws visited the son and daughter-in-law of UUCV members Dan and Joan Bechtel, who work in Mozambique: Peter Bechtel is a manager of a national park there, and Ruth Bechtel, a native of neighboring Swaziland, directs education and aids prevention projects for Oxfam Great Britain. On her visit Laws discovered that just $150 would support a girl to continue in school for a year. Girls need to live in a town or city to complete sixth or seventh grade. Some then go to vocational school for training as midwives, nurses, or elementary school teachers.

Raising the $4,000 wasn’t hard, Laws said. “When people heard how much of a difference we could make in these girls’ lives, everyone wanted to help.”

The congregation also raised $4,000 from the community, including Dickinson College students and faculty, to buy drought-resistant seeds to help 40,000 people raise their own food for a year rather than rely on food aid. The church is considering additional drought-related projects, including seed storage facilities. For additional information, contact Laws at lawsp@dickinson.edu.

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