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Celebrating empowerment in action on International Women’s Day

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empower:  to make someone stronger and more confident, especially in controlling their life and claiming their rights Today in honor of International Women’s Day, we celebrate Julienne Bamurange—director of Young Women Destination, one of Firelight’s community-based organization partners in Rwanda—and her journey of self-empowerment.  She, with Firelight’s support, is now empowering dozens of other young girls to take charge of their own destinies.  Here in her own words (translated from the original French), Julienne proudly shares her story with Firelight. My name [...]

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Ambassador Jimmy Kolker on why CBOs are the best investment for African development

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Firelight is honored that Ambassador Jimmy Kolker — after a long career in the U.S. government as a diplomat and at UNICEF as Chief of the HIV and AIDS Section —joined the Board of Directors in February 2017.  Below we share Ambassador Kolker’s thoughts on why he supports Firelight and why he believes funding community-based organizations is essential to development in sub-Saharan Africa. I’ve had a wonderful but unusual career – 30 years as a Department of State Foreign Service officer, [...]

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Improving access to early childhood education for children affected by HIV and AIDS

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Spiwe Ernest was born to a family deeply affected by the HIV and AIDS crisis that has ravaged sub-Saharan Africa.  Her mother was HIV positive, and when revealed her status to her husband, he abused her and fled, leaving her to fend for six children, including their youngest—Spiwe.  Fortunately, Spiwe was HIV negative, due to her mother’s participation in a prevention of mother to child transmission (PMTCT) program in her community.  Spiwe’s mother, unable to take care of six children [...]

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Firelight and Graça Machel on making a better future for Africa’s women and children

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“First, listen – it is their development – not yours – and their development means that it has to come from within” – Graça Machel. This was Mrs. Machel’s parting advice to a group of philanthropists and development specialists gathered to hear her speak at an event hosted by Firelight in June.  This idea of community- and Africa- led development, not donor- or western-led, was very much the evening’s theme for how women and children in Africa will overcome the challenges [...]

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Empowering Malawian community-based organizations to create secondary school education pathways for vulnerable girls

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Charity Mankhokwe is a 19-year-old girl pursuing her dream of a career in the tourism sector. This milestone seemed incredibly distant a few years ago, when her parents could barely afford her secondary education. However, a loan from a Firelight community-based grantee – Foundation for Community Livelihood and Development (FOCOLD) – empowered her parents to start their own small enterprise and brighten their family’s future. Their hard work in their self-started grocery shop is what paves the way for Charity [...]

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