Books in the hands of moms, babies and toddlers!

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Research has shown that early exposure to books shared with a loving caregiver creates the foundation for successful reading!

WEEMA International, in partnership with Reach Out and Read, is piloting an innovative program with our women's groups.  Four Self Help Groups (SHGs) each received a box of 20 different colorful board books selected with care for the local context. Each member takes home a book every week and engages with her children at home by reading together- pointing, interacting over the photos and drawings, etc. She then swaps for a new book the following week. After 20 weeks, the groups will exchange boxes with another SHG group.

The women are thrilled about this program. WEEMA will continuing working to get books in the hands of moms, babies and toddlers.

Enjoy the video below to see these books in action!

Congratulations to Team Warbotics for competing in the World Championships!

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Eighth grade students from Warroad, MN learned that women in many parts of the world spend hours each day collecting water.  When they realized how hard, dangerous and painful it can be to carry a 40lb jerry can full of water, they and set out to change that! These ambitious students creatively designed a water backpack/harness to make it much easier to carry these water cans.  

Their design was so impressive that they were encouraged to enter a science competition sponsored by LEGO, which they won. The Warbotics team continued to win at the district and state level and were invited to the World Championships in Detroit, Michigan where they were able to demonstrate their innovative harness to thousands of people.

While the Warbotics team was at Worlds, the WEEMA team was distributing the harness prototype to women in Ethiopia. The feedback from the community was incredibly positive. The community said that these harnesses will make a big impact on women and girls who struggle to carry the heavy load.  They asked for more harnesses to be produced and distributed as soon as possible.

The WEEMA team is currently searching for partners to mass produced these backpacks and meet the expressed need from our Ethiopian team.  If anyone has connections that may help make this a reality please send to WEEMA (liz@weema.org)!

Watch the video below to see these harnesses in action!

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Pad distribution and hygiene packages change lives!

  Primary and middle school students celebrate with their new menstrual kits!

Primary and middle school students celebrate with their new menstrual kits!

Two weeks ago WEEMA International, in partnership with Studio Samuel, distributed 400 reusable sanitary pads at Samura Primary and Middle School and left an additional 200 for future students. This distribution was accompanied by presentations, led by peer mentors, on how to use the pads as well as general information about hygiene and menstrual management.

Evidence shows that lack of access to menstrual supplies (and knowledge!) leads to girls' school absenteeism and drop-out.  One female student explained how these pads will transform her school life:

"I want to thank WEEMA for giving us this reusable pads so that we can focus on our education. It's been a problem for me to focus on  school activities during menstruation because of fear, pain and embarrassment. I didn't come to school during menstruation but now that I have this materials with me, it won't be a problem anymore."

In addition to the pad distribution, we'd like to send a big shout out to Cindy and her supporters for spearheading hygiene packages for boys. Her packages included underwear, toothbrushes, soap and toilet paper for over 200 students.  Gratitude!

  Saruma school boys pick up their hygiene packages from Cindy and her daughter.

Saruma school boys pick up their hygiene packages from Cindy and her daughter.

  This demonstration taught 400 girls how to use and wash their reusable pads and maintain proper hygiene.

This demonstration taught 400 girls how to use and wash their reusable pads and maintain proper hygiene.

WEEMA's 2018 Staff Retreat

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WEEMA’s Annual Staff Retreat took place in April and brought together the entire WEEMA team from the U.S. and both Ethiopian offices.

This meeting was a terrific opportunity for staff to hear from all the different program areas and to present the holistic view of WEEMA’s work. There was also plenty of time for team bonding, including a competitive soccer match. We can’t wait until next year’s Retreat!

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WEEMA attends Information & Communications Technology for Development Conference

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Several members of the WEEMA team traveled to Zambia for the Information & Communications Technology for Development (ICT4D) conference that kicked off yesterday.

This is the 10th year of ICT4D and the conference serves as a space to share how innovations in technology have made organizations more successful. The conversations center around applying technology to development and humanitarian challenges in particular.

WEEMA is speaking about our mHealth and digital early learning work with fellow attendees. We are excited to share and to gather some new ideas for our programs!