Gem Munro was here to give us an update on the Amarok Society (AS) and their work which has been supported by funds from our Rotary club
They teach very poor mothers how to read and write in their local language. The mothers learn English (necessary for economic advancement), math and social studies. The Amarok program also teaches them life skills such as health, nutrition, child-care and conflict resolution.
The mothers, many of whom have never before even held a pencil, attend school every day for 2 hours. Teachers, recruited from nearby neighbourhoods and trained by AS, use accelerated learning methods (using songs, drama, and games )
Neighbourhood houses (rooms) are used as schools. The mothers are then trained to become teachers of their own and their neighbours’ children, developing some of the learning materials themselves for use with the children.
The small schoolrooms, when not being used for mothers’ classes, are used by the women to discuss issues of importance, as determined by them, and as a place for cottage industry work to increase family income.
Working from the centre of the family out using accelerated learning methods is a highly effective approach. Mothers come to understand and value education – learn how to create a positive learning environment for children, and they come to make better decisions in many areas for the family. Mothers report that they can now make better sense of their world and have become more highly-valued within their own homes and in the community.
Gem followed one mother who had been married off at age 11, who had joined the program, and now has a 6 year old daughter whom she taught. Now this 6 year old has gathered some younger children together and teaches them along with her grandfather what she had been taught.
Gem also recounted how one of the mothers had become a leader to fight the idea that women should be married off at a young age and that her family should pay a dowry for her when she married. She said no when her daughter was asked to be married and no to a dowry. This was the beginning of a dowry strike in the community.
Each year on International Women’s Day, the women undertake a march to promote the rights of women and education for girls. It has become a celebration of women, something Gem and Tanyss Munro never anticipated when they began the schools.

The following video is GEM Munro's speech to the Rotary Club of Dryden on May 4, 2016

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