Lewiston-Auburn Rotary Club Treasurer Tom MacDonald, at right, presents a check to club member Joanne Bollinger, board chair of WISE Zambia (Women's Initiatives that Strengthen and Empower). WISE supports empowerment and economic independence for vulnerable children and women in Zambia through educational, economic, and agricultural initiatives. The nonprofit was born in Maine in 2004 as an outgrowth of a Habitat for Humanity project.
The $4,500 in funds donated by the L-A Rotary Club and Rotary District 7790 will provide three young women graduates from the WISE high school program the opportunity to pursue higher education in any field they choose whether business, nursing, teaching, trades and beyond.
WISE's education coordinator says, "In Zambia, girls have traditionally been expected to stay at home and become 'marriage material', they've been taught that challenging subjects are for boys, and they're lacking in role models." WISE challenges those assumptions by offering scholarships to girls and supporting them through their educational careers.
Bollinger made her first trip in 2013 to WISE Zambia’s headquarters in Kaoma. She visits almost every year and has taken several small teams and individuals from the US to Kaoma and environs. Her work in support of WISE Zambia takes her around the US, as she raises visibility, funds, and friends for the cause. "The growth of our flagship program in education under the guidance of local leadership in Kaoma has been nothing short of phenomenal. From supporting 28 high school students in 2014, we now have 630 students in more than 25 schools and over 90 in colleges and other forms of tertiary education throughout Zambia,” notes Bollinger.
More information about WISE Zambia can be found on their website at wisezambia.org/.