With the loss of ELizabeth "Beth" Bowers, an aquaculture Peace Corps Volunteer in the remote rural village of Lumwana West in NW Zambia, in a bicycle accident in 2002, the Elizabeth Bowers Zambia Education Fund (EBZEF) was born. Beginning with a scholarship for girls, over 300 “Beth’s Girls,” a name they call themselves, have gone to secondary school. Currently, over 30 girls on EBZEF scholarships have graduated from or are engaged in college/vocational education programs. The village has changed the way it looks at the education of women. More importantly, the women have changed the way they view themselves as leaders and providers for their families, their community, and their country.
The Elizabeth Bowers Memorial Library, built as a Peace Corps Partnership Program with EBZEF, was completed in 2009, including 18,000 volumes of books at all levels sent in partnership with Books For Africa and World Vision. It is the largest library in the NW Province. EBZEF, in partnership with National Solar and the Goodman Family Foundation, also supplied solar panels for the Library, bringing the first light and electricity to the community as a gesture toward literacy for all. Tamara Weiss, a doctoral candidate at the University of Minnesota in Early Childhood Development, helped to establish a curriculum for a pre-school, initiated and supported by EBZEF. A partnership with Baal Dan Charities has helped to build 3 classrooms for the now-burgeoning pre-school, a rarity in remote rural Zambia.
Seeking sustainability of the program, EBZEF now partners with World Vision to help the community establish its own secondary school. Phase I construction is completed with 2 teachers’ houses, 2 three-classroom blocks, plus an ablution block (lavatory) for girls. Phase II includes 1 more three-classroom block plus 4 modest duplex teachers’ houses built by the community itself. Phase III will include an ablution block for boys plus more teachers’ houses. The success of this project will fulfill EBZEF’s dream to educate the “whole girl,” from pre-school through secondary school and college! Beth’s vision is being realized on the other side of the world!