The MasterCard Foundation: Learning Outside the Classroom

October 1, 2010
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Below is a post from Crystal Chen of The MasterCard Foundation, one of BRAC’s partners. She’s currently visiting BRAC’s programs in Uganda along with other members of the MasterCard team. She wrote this after visiting one of the girls clubs in our Empowerment and Livelihoods for Adolescents (ELA) Program.

Below is a post from Crystal Chen of The MasterCard Foundation, one of BRAC’s partners. She’s currently visiting BRAC’s programs in Uganda along with other members of the MasterCard team. She wrote this after visiting one of the girls clubs in our Empowerment and Livelihoods for Adolescents (ELA) Program.

Kampala, Uganda.

We spent the afternoon with a group of girls in one of the Empowerment and Livelihoods for Adolescents (ELA) club that BRAC operates in Uganda. The ELA club provides safe spaces where girls can meet, and combines mentoring with life skills, livelihoods and financial literacy training. A few of the girls we met were shy about talking to the group but there were also several girls who were very keen to chat – about the businesses they are running using their microfinance loans, their favourite activities at the clubs, and what they do outside the club. There was a strong feeling of unity between them as they talked about each other’s lives and shared experiences.

I was amazed at their maturity and understanding of running a business despite not being in school: Stella sells shoes with her loan. She explained how she prices the shoes to make profits, and told me how she saves and reinvests the profits into her business.

Many of them spoke about music and drama as their favourite activities at the club: the girls welcomed us with a wonderful song and dance number. One of the older girls, Elisabeth, tried to teach me their dance – sadly, I’m still miles away from their skills!

Many of them are unable to attend school, but they all have high ambitions and visions for their careers, their education, their businesses and their lives. There were smiles all around the room as they shared their stories with us. And although they were pleased we had visited, the pleasure was mostly ours.

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