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!
The success and momentum of Beth’s memorial scholarship program clearly indicate that we must continue her efforts in Zambia. EBZEF is working to help Lumwana West build its own secondary school for the education of all children in the community.
The community of Lumwana West in the Northwestern province of Zambia needs a high school! Please click HERE to view our concept paper, which provides information about the Lumwana West community, and why construction of a high school there is so important to its children and future. The community’s improved health and livelihood is contingent on their opportunity for education.
In memory of Elizabeth Bowers, and with Peace Corps’ help, a scholarship fund was established for the education of Zambian women in Lumwana West in the NW Province, where Beth served as a Peace Corps Volunteer. Today, with World Vision Zambia acting as agent for the Elizabeth Bowers Zambia Education Fund (EBZEF), the scholarship funded 315 girls from Lumwana West in grades 10 through 12 for an education they would otherwise not receive. Today EBZEF is funding directly over 30 young women both in and graduated from college/vocational school. They are becoming teachers, nurses, a librarian, a physiotherapist, a radiographer, a pharmacist, a welder, an electrical engineer, a physician—and more.
To increase literacy in Lumwana West, EBZEF worked with the Peace Corps Partnership Program to build a library/learning center next to the Lumwana West Basic School as a gift to the community from Beth. With the help of partners Books for Africa, the Caritas Foundation, World Vision US, and World Vision Zambia, EBZEF sent 22,000 volumes of books to stock the Memorial Library. The ”Light and Literacy for Lumwana West” program supplied solar power for lights, computers, and communication in the Memorial Library. EBZEF's ”Textbooks for the Library” project has made learning available outside the classroom for Beth’s Girls and the entire community. The Elizabeth Bowers Memorial Library is the thriving center of literacy for Lumwana West and the surrounding area.
As of 2018, 80 children are enrolled in 3 classes in pre-school, including the Baby Class (ages 3-4), the Middle Class (ages 4-5), and the Reception Class (ages 5-6). The first children who had access to this early education have had great success in upper grades.
The new classrooms allow the program to expand even more. Teacher’s aides Jean Mutepeka and Belinda Kalumba are pursuing certificates in Early Childhood Education, with the help of EBZEF scholarships.