Kurandza (which means “to love” in Changana, the local language ) is a non-profit social enterprise that invests in the future of women in Mozambique. Founded by Elisabetta Colabianchi in 2014, Kurandza works to empower women and their community through education, entrepreneurship, and sustainable development programs in Guijá, Mozambique.

Elisabetta was first introduced to Guijá, a small village in southern Mozambique, when she lived and worked there as a Peace Corps volunteer at a local hospital. Her main role was to counsel HIV-positive women on the prevention of HIV transmission to their children. During her work she realized that many patients would abandon treatment because they could not pay for transportation to the hospital to pick-up their medicine each month. Elisabetta and her good friend, Percina Mocha who lived in the community, started an income generation project for the HIV-positive women, with the goal of teaching them a skill that would earn enough income to pay for the monthly transportation costs to the hospital. The impact was enormous and sparked the impetus for Elisabetta to do more.

In the Fall of 2014 after returning to the US, Elisabetta founded Kurandza to continue supporting the community through a variety of educational, business and sustainable development programs. Her good friend Percina works as the Country Director of Kurandza in Mozambique and is responsible for managing all of the programs on the ground.

This month, Kurandza has launched their second #IStandForGirls campaign with the goal of sending 200 girls to school in Mozambique.  

What is the campaign?

In the month of September the goal is to bring-on 200 purpose-driven individuals who support girls education, empowerment and gender equality to become monthly donors and will afford an education to girls in Mozambique.

For $20 per month (or $240 a year), someone can join the movement and give a future to a girl in Mozambique. The $20 pays for school fees, uniform, backpack, school supplies, school books, photocopies for exams, and transportation to get to school.

This is my second year signing on to support a girl’s education. It is something I have always wanted to do especially as a mother of a ten-year old girl who has all the opportunity imaginable simply based on where she was born.

Why girls education? 

I had the opportunity to interview both Elisabetta and Percina (who was the first girl to graduate from high school in her community) to learn more about the campaign and the impact an education makes on a girl. Here is what they had to say.

“When a girl gets an education, she’s able to dream…” by Elisabetta Colabianchi 

In the rural villages of Guijá District in southern Mozambique, it’s rare for girls to complete high school, let alone primary school. College isn’t even an option. Many girls drop out of school because their parents can’t pay for school costs or because they get pregnant.

Studies have shown that when girls go to school, they have less of a chance of contracting HIV, becoming a child bride, or having early pregnancies. They’ve also shown that when girls go to school, they have more confidence, higher self-esteem, better access to health care, and increased income.

After working in the rural villages of Guijá District for 6 years (3 years with the Peace Corps, and 3 years with Kurandza), I’ve seen first hand the difference that an education makes. The women artisans of Kurandza were able to send their kids to school, pay for all school supplies, books, uniforms, backpacks, and transportation, and now these kids are flourishing. They are continuing to study, learning the national language, Portuguese, and are passing their classes. They are also learning life skills and positive behaviors related to responsibility, respect, and work ethic. Since Percina and I have seen such a success with these children going to school, we wanted to help even more children through a new educational project.

We decided to start with the goal of bringing education to 100 girls. We chose to focus on girls because when parents have funds for only one child to go to school, they often choose to send the boys. We chose to start with 100 girls because that’s the number of the most vulnerable girls—orphans or children of unemployed parents, it’s a manageable number with the size of our grassroots non-profit at the moment, and the sponsorship of 100 girls will employ 10 local women to run our holistic education program.

The holistic education program will include after school tutoring, empowerment workshops, health education, parent-teacher conferences, and extra-curricular activities like art, sports, and theatre. The empowerment workshops will talk about gender equality, self-esteem, and self-defense. We wanted to include a holistic education program to create a safe, supportive space for our girls. Often times girls don’t find support with their parents, since they themselves have never gone to school. When their children want to drop out because the classes are difficult, their parents support that decision and tell them that they can get married instead. When our girls feel difficulty, we want to be there for them, and help support them through the hardships through counseling and tutoring. We also want their parents to be on board, that’s why we’ve created parent-teacher conferences and activities to include the parents more in their child’s education.

If you would like to join our movement and send a girl to school, you can become a monthly sponsor here: www.kurandza.org/take-action

Nicole Melancon (USA)

Third Eye Mom is a stay-at-home mom living in Minneapolis, Minnesota with her two children Max (6) and Sophia (4). Her children keep her continually busy and she is constantly amazed by the imagination, energy and joy of life that they possess! A world wanderer at heart, she has also been fortunate to have visited over 30 countries by either traveling, working, studying or volunteering and she continues to keep on the traveling path. A graduate of French and International Relations from the University of Wisconsin Madison, where she met her husband Paul, she has always been a Midwest gal living in Minnesota, Wisconsin and Chicago. This adventurous mom loves to be outside doing anything athletic (hiking, running, biking, skiing, snowshoeing or simply enjoying nature), to travel and volunteer abroad, to write, and to spend time with her beloved family and friends. Her latest venture involves her dream to raise enough money on her own to build and open a brand-new school in rural Nepal, and to teach her children to live compassionately, open-minded lives that understand different cultures and the importance of giving back to those in need. Third Eye Mom believes strongly in the value of making a difference in the world, no matter how small it may be. If there is a will, there is a way, and that anything is possible (as long as you set your heart and mind to it!). Visit her on her blog, Thirdeyemom, where she writes about her travels and experiences in other lands!

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