2009.07.03: July 3, 2009: Headlines: COS - Zambia: Service: Libraries: Fallen: Education: Women's Issues: Statesman Journal: Parents Found "Elizabeth Bowers Zambia Education Fund" to provide scholarships for girls living in the Zambian village where their daughter died

Peace Corps Online: Directory: Zambia: Peace Corps Zambia : Peace Corps Zamiba: Newest Stories: 2009.07.03: July 3, 2009: Headlines: COS - Zambia: Service: Libraries: Fallen: Education: Women's Issues: Statesman Journal: Parents Found "Elizabeth Bowers Zambia Education Fund" to provide scholarships for girls living in the Zambian village where their daughter died

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Parents Found "Elizabeth Bowers Zambia Education Fund" to provide scholarships for girls living in the Zambian village where their daughter died

Parents Found Elizabeth Bowers Zambia Education Fund to provide scholarships for girls living in the Zambian village where their daughter died

Gerry and Linda Bowers will hold a dedication for a library in the Zambian village where their daughter was stationed. The couple, both Willamette University professors, sparked the library project three years ago. The project was finished in March. Villagers did the bulk of the building mixing their own concrete and making their own bricks. Linda Bowers called the library's construction "a huge accomplishment" as a project done entirely by hand. U.S.-based nonprofit Books for Africa helped supply most of the more than 18,000 books contained in 2,368-square foot library. The couple plans to outfit the library with solar panels to accommodate computers and an electronic cataloging system. The nonprofit Elizabeth Bowers Zambia Education Fund provides scholarships for girls living in the Zambian village their daughter was stationed in, Lumwana West. Christian humanitarian organization World Vision Zambia administers the scholarships to the Lumwana West girls. The girls otherwise would have to pay tuition for eighth and ninth grade and pay tuition plus room and board to attend grades 10 to 12. The Zambian government stops paying tuition after seventh grade, and no school exists for grades 10 to 12 in the village. The nearest high school is 56 miles north in Mwinilunga. Linda Bowers said they chose to give the scholarships to girls because more African boys attend school as they tend to get more encouragement. A Zambian secondary school recently stopped allowing girls to attend, deeming them too much of " a distraction" for the boys. In further explanation, she quoted a Zambian proverb: "'If you educate a man, you educate an individual. If you educate a woman, you educate a family, a community and a nation.' "That's why we chose women." For the villager girls to attend high school at all is remarkable, Linda Bowers said. "High school wasn't even something they could conceive of" before the program came along, she said.

Parents Found "Elizabeth Bowers Zambia Education Fund" to provide scholarships for girls living in the Zambian village where their daughter died

Salem couple fulfills a dream in Africa
Daughter's legacy lives on in library

By Jillian Daley Statesman Journal
July 3, 2009

By Jillian Daley Statesman Journal July 3, 2009

Caption: Linda and Gerry Bowers are traveling to Zambia to see the library that they helped to get built. It will help Zambian girls get an education. Photo: Kobbi R. Blair | Statesman Journal

Sprague High graduate Elizabeth Bowers "was strong, independent, beautiful, cheerful and dedicated to helping other people," said her father, Gerry Bowers.

After she died in 2002 in a bicycle accident while doing Peace Corps work in Zambia, her parents decided to carry on her dedication to helping others. And, they have in a big way.

On Thursday, South Salem residents Gerry and Linda Bowers will hold a dedication for a library in the Zambian village where their daughter was stationed. The couple, both Willamette University professors, sparked the library project three years ago. The project was finished in March.

Villagers did the bulk of the building mixing their own concrete and making their own bricks.

Linda Bowers called the library's construction "a huge accomplishment" as a project done entirely by hand.

U.S.-based nonprofit Books for Africa helped supply most of the more than 18,000 books contained in 2,368-square foot library. The couple plans to outfit the library with solar panels to accommodate computers and an electronic cataloging system.

A scholarship fund the couple kicked off seven years ago inspired the library. The scholarship recipients needed books.

The nonprofit Elizabeth Bowers Zambia Education Fund provides scholarships for girls living in the Zambian village their daughter was stationed in, Lumwana West. Christian humanitarian organization World Vision Zambia administers the scholarships to the Lumwana West girls. The girls otherwise would have to pay tuition for eighth and ninth grade and pay tuition plus room and board to attend grades 10 to 12.

The Zambian government stops paying tuition after seventh grade, and no school exists for grades 10 to 12 in the village. The nearest high school is 56 miles north in Mwinilunga.

Linda Bowers said they chose to give the scholarships to girls because more African boys attend school as they tend to get more encouragement. A Zambian secondary school recently stopped allowing girls to attend, deeming them too much of " a distraction" for the boys.

In further explanation, she quoted a Zambian proverb: "'If you educate a man, you educate an individual. If you educate a woman, you educate a family, a community and a nation.'

"That's why we chose women."

But, even with the scholarships, the girls at first were not performing well in school. The couple found one of the reasons was because the girls had no access to books, so the couple partnered with Peace Corps to build a library.

The library and scholarships combined seem to be paying off. Last year, 93 girls attended grades eight to 12. Three of Elizabeth's girls now are attending college.

For the villager girls to attend high school at all is remarkable, Linda Bowers said.

"High school wasn't even something they could conceive of" before the program came along, she said.

The library also is generating some attention. Representatives from the Zambian Ministry of Education and Zambian Parliament plan to attend the library's dedication.

The couple is succeeding in carrying on their daughter's efforts to help the Zambian villagers. But their work in the village is a little different than hers was.

Elizabeth Bowers' Peace Corps program involved teaching farmers how to breed fish, promoting self-sustaining farming, a Peace Corps cornerstone concept.

The couple looks at education as another way of sustaining a community. Plus, educating comes naturally to them.

"What do we do for a living?" Linda Bowers said, chuckling.

She has been an English professor at Willamette for 23 years, and he has been an English professor at Willamette for 38 years. They have lived in South Salem since he commenced his professorship.

Their daughter, who was 22 when she died, graduated as valedictorian from Sprague High School in 1997. In 2001, she graduated Phi Beta Kappa from Earlham College in Indiana with a degree in Japanese studies. Then, she joined the Peace Corps.

Whatever else she would have been or done, Linda Bowers always will carry in her heart who she was: "a child of light."

Gerry Bowers added their daughter spread joy wherever she went: "Everyone talked about her smile. It was a big, bright smile that made people feel good about themselves."




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Headlines: July, 2009; Peace Corps Zambia; Directory of Zambia RPCVs; Messages and Announcements for Zambia RPCVs; Service; Libraries; Fallen; Education; Women's Issues





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Story Source: Statesman Journal

This story has been posted in the following forums: : Headlines; COS - Zambia; Service; Libraries; Fallen; Education; Women's Issues

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