Ten years ago my student, Palo Alto High '99, Gabe Fossati-Bellani went off to Princeton University to major in economics with a goal of working on Wall Street. It took only one summer of Wall Street work for Gabe to realize that was not where he wanted to spend his life.
Instead he decided he wanted to work in Africa helping people. Now ten years later, Gabe is Director of Institutional Development with the Lurdes Mutola Foundation in Mozambique where he is working to improve educational opportunities for young girls. Lurdes Mutola is a renown 800 meter Gold Medal Olympic athlete from Mozambique who used most of her winnings to start the Lurdes Mutola Foundation to help young people in Mozambique.
To support Lurdes in her efforts, in 2007, Gabe's parents Cristina and Vittorio Fossati and I started a non-profit foundation called Friends of the Lurdes Mutola Foundation to help young girls from rural areas of Mozambique stay in school. The program is called More School for Me.
According to New York Times columnist Nickolas Kristof ": "In the 19th century, the paramount moral challenge was slavery. In the 20th century, it was totalitarianism. In this century, it is the brutality inflicted on so many women and girls around the globe: sex trafficking, acid attacks, bride burnings and mass rape." There is a growing understanding that "focusing on women and girls is the most effective way to fight global poverty and extremism."
The foundation is focusing on women and girls based on the theory that helping young women has a more significant and lasting impact in fighting poverty. We are educating them so they can have jobs, lead a better life, and contribute to society.
At the moment we have 40 young girls ages 12-16 in the program. We house them, feed them, and support their efforts to stay in school. We built one dormitory for them and are now in the process of trying to finish a second and third dorm so we can help more girls. The dormitory is located in Maputo, Mozambique and you can see a video of the girls and the dorm on our website.
One hundred percent of the donations go directly to the program because we are all volunteers. The only employed person is Gabe who lives in Magude, Mozambique and whose very modest salary is paid the Lurdes Mutola Foundation. We are hoping to raise $30,000 this year to complete the building of the second dormitory. Each dormitory costs about $40,,000 and houses 20-25 girls.
This year of hardship everywhere in the world, if you are considering donating, please consider the Friends of the Lurdes Mutola Foundation. Even a small amount makes a big difference. We are using Google Checkout because Google does not charge anything to 501(c)(3)organizations. (non-profits)
$40 - Buys a year's worth of school supplies for a student, including books
$120 - Pays a social worker's salary for one month, providing support and protection to 10 girls
$150 - Buys food for a girl for one year, enabling her to attend school rather than work in the fields
$500 - Covers all costs for a year of schooling for one scholarship recipient
$1,500 - Covers all costs for a girl to attend 8th, 9th, and 10th grade
$4,000 - Pays for the costs of equipping a house with TV, Fridge and Bunk-beds
$40,000 - Builds another house for the group that will enter in 2010
$80,000 - Fully funds this project for a group of 20 girls for 8th, 9th and 10th grade
Your donation will go a long way in helping Mozambique one of the poorest countries in Africa
where the life expectancy is one of the lowest in the world and you will know you have made a big difference in the lives of these young girls.