An interview with Regina

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We asked Regina, age 15, some questions about love, equality and being a girl. Can you relate to her answers?
We sure can.

What does being a girl mean to you?
Regina: If you are a girl then you must have encouragement and plan for your life. You must also have determination and self esteem.

What do you think about equality?
R: To my own understanding, equality means everyone is equal because God’s created everyone. Equality also means that you should give respect to everyone whether white or black, rich or poor, small or big, and smart or slow.

How do you show love?
R: How I love myself is by coming to school every day, studying my lessons, participating in class, listening to my teachers, following instructions, and showing every one love. I can also love my family by making peace when there is conflict, giving everybody my opinion when there is no good advice and helping them when they are in need of anything. I can also love my friends by caring for them when they are sad or upset, by helping them with their works when they are lot by also giving them good advice to make a rightful or good decisions.

What does More Than Me mean to you?
R: More Than Me means lots of things. Example, it means making a big difference, it means to help others who are in need, it also means to change the world, my country, and my community.

What do you hope for for girls not in school?
R: The girls who are not in school I hope they should fight hard and make their dreams comes true by asking for support so that they can be in school, but I think they are lack of support so that is why they are not in school. But by the help of More Than Me, I think they will be in school.

Regina won her 1st class spelling bee this week!

Regina is right. A lot of girls in her neighborhood lack the support to go to school. If you’d like to be a support system for a new girl in school, you can change her story today. We wish you a Happy International Women’s Day, and we hope you celebrate the amazing women and girls in your life!

Love,

The MTM Family

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You text, she wins.

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What happens when you text to give? You donate $10 to our GlobalGiving Project – Change Her Story – Get 50 More Girls in School! Here’s a breakdown for ya:

We are adding 50 girls to the MTM Academy next year. We chose this number because we want to focus on real outcomes for the girls, rather than scale. We want to grow in a way that makes sense.

Last week we had a spelling bee and we thought, wow. Last year, a lot of these girls were on the street selling, and now they’re in school spelling. Competing in a spelling bee, even! Getting to read in a library and learn how to use computers. Mastering phonics, addition and subtraction. Receiving regular check ups and deworming pills. Eating two healthy meals and feeling safe each day.

We need your help. Give #50moregirls a chance at a brighter future by sending them to school at the MTM Academy.

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B’s Legacy Lives On!

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We experienced a tragic loss last semester. In December, one of our beautiful young women, Beatrice, lost her life due to an enlarged heart and worms that had infected her stomach and lungs. Beatrice fought up until the last moment and somehow grasped, at 13 years old, that her life and her pain could be about more than just herself. Three days before she passed, she said, “I am fighting so that no other student, no other young woman has to be in this condition, has to lie in this hospital bed.” Her death shook our community, but we refuse to let her strength and spirit pass along with her.
This month, we opened the “Be Your Best Self” Library in honor of Beatrice with support from the British Ambassador. And two weeks ago, we dewormed 124 students. It wasn’t beautiful watching our students struggling to pass the worms, but with every worm-free stomach comes the possibility of a healthier, longer life. We felt Beatrice’s spirit smiling down on us seeing that we are doing everything in our power to continue her fight that no student will have to lie in that hospital bed.

We will continue to grow our library and more and more books have been coming in. Thank you to everyone who has supported the “Be Your Best Self” Library thus far! If you’re interested in becoming a supporter, please email [email protected].

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Your App Questions Answered.

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What is the More Than Me App? The More Than Me App asks you to think more carefully about your daily purchases. Instead of buying a $2 coffee, you could #forgo that money and donate it to More Than Me. Did you know that $2 equals the price of one dose of malaria medication? Your daily decisions really can have a #BIGimpact.

Does the App use real money? Yes. When you decide to forgo an item, you choose the amount you would have paid for it, and that amount gets donated to More Than Me.

Why should I forgo? Besides the kudos you’ll get from all your friends, we have a special Valentine’s Day challenge for you. Forgo $25 this week and you’ll get a personalized valentine from the girls!

Why else should I forgo? Well, because it will make your heart smile. And that’s a promise.

Download the app at https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/more-than-me/id783497664?mt=8 and email [email protected] with any questions! #Forgo #forthegirls today. We know you want to!

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Princess Matters.

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Today is National Human Trafficking Awareness Day.

Here are some facts that shed light on the context our girls live in:

AllAfrica.com recently wrote an article about the FIRST person convicted of human trafficking in Liberia. Our founder, Katie, wanted YOU to hear her response:

Dear More Than Me Family,

I just read the “All Africa” story about child slavery in Liberia. I’m angry. It’s just not okay the way these young children are being treated. I don’t need to read about it in the news because I know these children. Many of them were our girls’ stories before they came to the Academy. Princess, who at 8, lived with her Grandma, but had a full-time job selling water in the pouring rain or under the beating hot sun. She had never gone to school, but now she’s enrolled in the MTM Academy.  Or Musu, who at age 6 sold peanuts from the top of her head in the slums wearing her broken flip flops. She followed me and hid every time I’d look back at her. Now Musu is also enrolled in the Academy. For our 120 girls, it’s not just school. The Academy is the only safe place they have and they don’t ever want to go home.

Every single day other children walk past and stare through our gates. They have buckets or wheelbarrows of used clothes and it breaks everything in me, I wonder what they think. I wonder how they feel. Sometimes I go out and talk to them and kiss them and play with them. Other times, I try as hard as I can to ignore them. The needs inside our gates are already overwhelming. I think of Mother Teresa. She couldn’t physically help all the time, but she loved. I try to too; I want to be that. 

No young child, Liberian, American, Pink, Green or Yellow should be hungry on the street working. I’m the first to admit I don’t have all the answers, but I would give my life for these children a million times over. I don’t get it.  I want to scream, but since that doesn’t really do anything, may our work with MTM scream to the world. There is something so much bigger than just ourselves, and may its impact echo throughout the world.

Princess Matters,

Katie

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#GetStreet with us.

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We are in awe of your support. Thank you for spreading the word and helping girls get off the street. Tomorrow is Match Day! Where will you be at noon ET, 9am PT? (Hint: https://www.globalgiving.org/projects/morethanme-girls-academy/)

Your #getstreet photos are taking Facebook by storm! (click on an image to make it larger):

How to #getstreet:

Invite your friends to join this event: https://www.facebook.com/events/547026155384944/

Tomorrow, Tuesday December 3rd, at noon ET (9am PT) give to get girls off the street – https://www.globalgiving.org/projects/morethanme-girls-academy/

Don’t see your photo up there? Post it to our Facebook page and we’ll add it!
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TIME TO GET STREET

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We have a challenge for you.

Tuesday, December 3rd is #GivingTuesday, a day to give back to charity after Thanksgiving, Black Friday, and Cyber Monday. This year, Microsoft is matching donations up to $1000 at 100%. They have $250K to give away in matching funds! Matching starts at exactly 12pmEST, and we need your help to invite people to take a stand against girls living and working on the street.

Here’s the deal: What would happen if you and 5 friends changed your profile pictures to something like this:Except it’s you holding the sign. What if you invited 20 friends to pledge to donate to More Than Me so that girls in West Point won’t have to sell their bodies for clean water anymore?

What if taking action was as easy as snapping a selfie? Here’s what you can do:

  1. Download and print this sign (or make your own): 
  2. Take a photo of yourself holding the sign in your neighborhood, outside your school, or at your local shopping center.
  3. Change your profile picture to this new photo!
  4. Caption the photo with this: “For the holidays, I’m taking a stand against girls living on the street! Join me: https://www.facebook.com/events/547026155384944/
  5. Invite your friends to the facebook event.
  6. On December 3rd, at 12pm EST, 9am PST – Donate! (We’ll send you the link through Facebook) Or spread the word!
  7. And remember, it’s not about you.
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Meet the More Than Me Marathon Team!

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Choosing to run a marathon is no small “feet.” All puns aside, each of our six runners has an amazing story to tell. Discover how they decided to run 26.2 miles for our girls and help them reach their fundraising goal of $15,000 as a group!

Matt Gallo says…“It’s always been a dream of mine to run in the New York City Marathon. I have run 26.2 miles before, but never anything like this. More Than Me is giving me this awesome opportunity. What’s great about this race is the millions of dollars raised for big charitable and non-profit organizations. However, it’s easy to overlook the little guys. I’ve decided to work with More than Me because I believe that working this group would allow me to contribute more directly and see how I’m helping. I’ll be running a short 26.2 miles across the 5 boroughs or New York City. Every step, every cramp, every bead of sweat and blister and smile will be making something happen. 100% of the funds raised will help give these girls the education and quality of life they deserve. I am proud to be serving as a role model and inspiration to people in need.” Help Matt make something BIG happen.

A father-daughter kind of story. Katelyn and Richard Ducote came all the way from Georgia to run the ING NYC Marathon. They ran the marathon because it was an opportunity to spend time together doing something they both enjoy.  Richard’s niece, Katie Borghese (one of our amazing board members), introduced them to More Than Me and how the foundation helps young women avoid a life of misery through education. “Running for MTM is a blessing,” Richard said. Katelyn and Richard finished the race together at 4:32:34. Now’s your chance to congratulate them! Help Katelyn and Richard make their race count even more.

This is Katherine Galloway. “I live in Bernardsville, NJ.  I am married and have two children, Mikey(8) and Gracie(4).  My family has been wonderfully supportive as I trained for this race.  I have not run a full marathon in 10 years!  I am super excited about running in NYC and so happy to be doing it for More Than Me.  I was a high school math teacher before I had Gracie and I miss being in the classroom.  Seeing the pictures of the girls in class at the More Than Me Academy makes me so happy.   I am proud to be helping this amazing organization!” Get Katherine to her fundraising finish line today!

When Allie Hoffman saw Katie post a call for runners on her Facebook page, Allie, a friend of Katie’s, knew she had to do it. “I thought this would be a really good motivation for pushing me over the edge and finally surpassing everything I thought was possible,” Allie said.  Allie also just turned 30 and is using her birthday as a way to fundraise for the marathon. Allie finished at 4:22:11 – way to go! Help Allie make her 30th birthday count.

Stefanie is a long-time supporter of MTM and was invited by MTM to run!  She is also an avid athlete. Just one week earlier, she ran the Marine Corps Marathon.  Stephanie’s passion goes deeper than the physical training she endures.  Her passion is centered on spreading awareness about girls like Agnes and Beatrice to as many people as possible. Stephanie dreams of coming to Liberia one day to teach the girls photography and make a book out of their photos.  The book’s proceeds would go back to More Than Me, the girls would have a new skill, and their photos would be seen around the world. Make Stephanie’s dreams a reality today!

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Hope Dies Last

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By: Rachel Mattovich

In a world where we are inundated with global headlines, it is hard to remember that what we do in our own lives really does make a difference.  After listening to an hour-long program of global news, I couldn’t help but feel overwhelmed by the chaos of the world, and I found myself thinking deeper about the human quality of hopefulness, what it is and why it is really important to us.  It was at that moment when my eyes caught the text on the spine of a book on my roommate’s bookshelf ironically titled: Hope Dies Last. The first line began, “Hope has never trickled down.  It has always sprung up,” and feeling perplexed, I decided to look up the definition of hope.

According to the American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, hope is the state which promotes the desire of positive outcomes related to events and circumstances in one’s own life or in the world at large.  After reading this definition, I realized that for hope to exist, it requires individual action—the desire to engage, contribute and initiate change in our environment. To feel that what we do counts, and that as individuals, we count. The truth is, we all have the potential to cultivate hope. We just have to act.

Hope is at the heart of More Than Me (MTM).  In fact, without it MTM would cease to exist. In the spirit of hope, we wanted to take time to honor the recent efforts of some of our most dedicated and dynamic supporters.

Gwyneth (left) with her friend on the day of the race.

Meet Gwyneth:  A 13 year-old 8th grader from Califon, New Jersey.  Gwyneth met Katie, our founder, two years ago at a friend’s Promise Party.  Upon meeting Katie, Gwyneth says,

“Katie’s enthusiasm about MTM is contagious.  I heard about MTM and the girls, and it made me sad. I wanted to help them.  The girls are close to my age and I was saddened by the hardships that they face.”

It was then that Gwyneth decided to take action.  What began as an effort towards earning her Girl Scout Silver Award, morphed into greater efforts to spread awareness in her local community for women, girls and MTM, in the form of her favorite sport:  running.

When Gywneth heard about the MTM girls training to run in the 10K for our Meet Her At the Finish Line campaign, she decided to build a team in her hometown that would run at the same time, to show solidarity and support for the girls.  Through her efforts and passion, Gwyneth won our fundraising campaign, and truly touched the hearts of our girls in Liberia.

As the ING New York City Marathon approaches this weekend, running has become a vehicle for resonating hope, once again.  This year we have six amazing people participating and fundraising for MTM in the marathon. They’ve decided their role in creating change will be as athletes – as people who are active and striving to push their bodies to be as healthy as possible and be a role model for what they believe in.

The race is this Sunday, and the runners hope to inspire all of the MTM girls to keep working and pushing themselves to be the best they can be. So if you find yourself searching for hope in this vast world, here’s your chance:  you can support our marathon runners today by donating to their fundraising pages, here.

All it takes is a desire to participate in your surroundings to foster hope; so I encourage you to take this inspiration and run with it (literally and figuratively)!

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Believing in education with all of my being

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Where do I begin­? Being the principal of the More Than Me Academy has been extremely challenging, but the good kind of challenging. The kind that reminds you why you’re alive. The kind that reminds you that you’re human and not infallible.

Today is the International Day of the Girl Child and this year’s theme is “Innovating for Girls Education.” The More Than Me Academy has been innovating since Day 1. We have a co-teaching system, a state-of-the-art computer lab, and amazing after-school programs. When the odds are stacked against you, every accomplishment, no matter its size, feels HUGE. And I’m grateful for that.I have spent the past four weeks working with some of the most energetic, passionate, determined, and bright young girls in the world. They have a fire inside of them, but they have been deprived of the basic education needed to open the kinds of doors that should be opened to them. And that is why I am here, why the other fellows are here, why the six Liberian co-teachers are here, and why there are countless volunteers working around the clock who are willing to do anything that is asked of them. It blows my mind.

I loved my job in the South Bronx. It, too, was challenging. The students there were also disadvantaged and amazing, and I also had some fantastic co-workers. But at More Than Me, every single person working on that campus is there because they believe in the mission of More Than Me. They believe that the beautiful and talented girls of that school can be the leaders of the country. You won’t find another organization like it in the world. I promise you.There are also harsh realities. I teach the oldest group of girls. There is a 15-year-old girl in my class who has a child and cannot read words other than the ones she knows through the rote memorization practiced here in Liberia. When I read stories to her in class, she is so quick. Her answers are the most thoughtful, insightful. But still, she cannot read. How am I supposed to help her become a leader of her country? The first step is believing in her, and when I realize that I’m not the only person working hard to ensure her success, the load becomes lighter.

Perhaps I am sugarcoating everything. This organization is not perfect and my job is really hard. I work between 10 and 12 hours each day. I am teaching for four of the hours and acting as principal for the rest of the time. The teaching part consists of lesson planning, grading and more lesson planning. The principal part consists of meeting with students, staff, visitors to the campus, parents who want us to take their children in, making sure my staff has what they need, and finding out where to get things when my staff doesn’t have what they need. A walk in the park, right?!

What else makes this job hard?  I have never taught a 16-year-old how to read.  I have never taught anyone how to read. I have never been a principal before. I have never really been anyone’s boss before. All of it can get frustrating, and sometimes when I’m in it, I don’t know if I will make it. At the end of the day though, when a parent comes to pick up her child and promises to send some plantains for me next week (she’s waiting for them to ripen so that I can enjoy them), I regain the passion and energy to do it all again the next day. Not because I love plantains, although I do, but because this parent, who can hardly care for herself and her children, will not take no for an answer. She will give me the plantains and she will thank me a hundred times each time she sees me. She too believes in this school’s mission with all of her being.

I leave you with some lyrics to the song our girls sing every morning at devotion:

“Girls of Liberia, we need to be educated…we can do what men can do, just give us the opportunity. Give us a chance to learn. Give us a chance to learn. We are important. We are the songs of Liberia.”

With love,

Miss M

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124

mtm girls in school

464,112

Global Supporters

106

countries represented