The Recipients of the EHG Madame Dorbor Scholarship

The EHG Fund is proud to announce the recipients of the EHG Madame Dorbor Scholarship.

Korto JP Vogar School

Lauren S

Faith Academy International

Saldayah B

Young Christian Academy

Satta M

Kingdom Foundation

Wubu D

Hellena K

These 8th grade student about to enter 9th grade, exhibited positive behavior, integrity and an effort towards academic learning. They are all actively engaged in serving their community and want to further their education to serve others.

“We are all very proud of these students,” said Lindsey Schurman, a representative of the EHG Fund. “They have all shown an extraordinary level of ambition to help the people around them and want to further their education to continue to serve their communities, country and world at large.”

The five recipients were selected out of many applicants and was based upon their academic work, integrity, moral character, and their desire to apply their educational strengths in service to others.

“We hope that these scholarship will be transformative in the lives of these young women. We wish them all well and hope they enjoy the next step in their education.” Schurman, followed up.

Madame Dorbor scholarships are offered through the EHG Fund, an in-house charitable arm of DentalXChange, an American company that provides online services to the dental industry. DentalXChange’s company founders have helped support a number of projects of Full-Circle Learning, spanning over a decade. Generations of children in multiple countries have benefited from the charitable givings of DentalXChange’s employees and clients, who value equal access to purposeful, transformational education.

Michelle Walker in Zambia – Day 4

In June of 2017, Michelle Walker, Content Developer for DentalXChange, attended Full-Circle Learning Center’s Conference in Lusaka, Zambia to represent the EHG Fund and see how the program’s influence has shaped the school system and to learn what more we can do to help the Zambian people. Michelle wrote a daily log of her trip to help us experience her adventures. Here is Day 4:

Davidson’s Wedding

I was looking forward to a low-key wedding ceremony, after having only slept for 3 or 4 hours, and being pretty exhausted from the excitement of the reception the night before.

Davidson told us we needed to be ready to leave around Noon, to head over to the Zambia National Baha’i Centre in Lusaka. He left very early in the morning, around 9am, to go to the records building with Peter to obtain the marriage license. I was pretty amazed that government officials work on Sunday, and wondered whether Zambian law requires marriage licenses to expire within a day or two, necessitating last-minute trips to the government office on a Sunday morning.

We all eat breakfast together, minus Davidson and Peter, at the house, and when they return we quickly pile into the car.

The Baha’i center is in a very pretty part of Lusaka, close to the city center. The building has a tall angular roof, and is surrounded by tall mature trees in the front, and a large expanse of lush Bermuda grass in the back. In the main worship hall, black chairs are set up facing a dais, and the entire right side is made of windows. Bridget and Davidson enter, and sit in the middle of the room. There are a few songs, and then Teresa gives a short speech, followed by a much longer introduction to the Baha’i faith given by a representative of this congregation.

Towards the end of the ceremony, Bridget and Davidson gather their familial witnesses, of which Teresa and I are two of them, to sign three copies of their marriage license. After another song, the wedding is complete, and everyone heads outside to take pictures.

Following the pictures, a buffet-style dinner is served, a few more people speak about their hopes for Davidson and Bridget, as well as the Baha’i faith. By this point, I am feeling pretty exhausted, and am ready to head home for a nap.

As the sun begins to set and mild day turns chilly, we pile into various cars and head towards home. Although it is only 7pm, our room is very dark because our lights still don’t work. I pretty much climb into bed and sleep until the next morning.

Michelle Walker in Zambia – Day 1

In June of 2017, Michelle Walker, Content Developer for DentalXChange, attended Full-Circle Learning Center’s Conference in Lusaka, Zambia to represent the EHG Fund and see how the program’s influence has shaped the school system and to learn what more we can do to help the Zambian people. Michelle wrote a daily log of her trip to help us experience her adventures. Here is Day 1: 

Shortly after Noon, Teresa Langness of Full-Circle Learning and I land in Lusaka. The airport does not seem particularly large, but that’s probably because the Customs area is small, by most Western standards. Everyone must stand single-file in one line to present our Yellow Fever vaccination cards, which are quickly reviewed and our Passports stamped. Then, we need to go through Customs. There are two Customs officials for Zambian nationals, one for Consulate employees and embassy officials, and one for visitors. The line for visitors seems incredibly slow, and there is family of 6 ahead of us who apparently need to pay an additional amount in order to get through. I am assuming they have the appropriate visas (otherwise they would have been denied boarding before entering Zambia), so I’m not sure why the Customs officer is not simply stamping their passports and letting them through. Teresa and I are next up, and she allows me to go ahead of her. I present my passport and Yellow Fever vaccination certificate, which the Customs officer barely glances at before stamping my page and allowing me entry. Once I make it through, I wait near the baggage area for Teresa to come through. However, 5 minutes stretches into 10 and then nearly 15 before she clears the Customs booth. I did not ask her whether she needed to pay an additional amount to enter the country, but I was definitely worried that they would deny her entry. Luckily, we managed to locate all of our bags and luggage tags, and exit the airport within an hour of arrival.

As we come out of the airport and round a corner, we begin to hear children singing. The first person I see is Davidson with a huge grin on his face, recording the welcome song that the kids are singing to us. The song and flowers are such a kind gesture; I barely know what to say. Clearly Teresa is loved here. I meet Davidson officially for the first time, and Beauty gives me a big hug, and we both greet all of the children and thank them for coming to meet us. Beauty informs us that the kids need to board a bus back to school, but that she and Davidson will ride with us to our rental apartment.

After loading our bags into the car, our driver begins to leave the airport, but is flagged down and told to pull the side of the road. After about 5 minutes of waiting, the driver explains that we are pulled over because the presidential motorcade will be driving through. As about a dozen cars begin to stack up behind us, I anticipate what a presidential motorcade might look like. Another 3 minutes, and we see about a dozen policy trucks, motorcycles, and cars whip past on this two-lane road that runs adjacent to the airport. Then two large dark SUV’s zoom past going at least 50 mph. I assume one of those vehicles contains the president of Zambia. Finally, about two-dozen other private vehicles careen past, with people hanging out of the windows waiving the Zambian flag and blasting music. The driver informs us that these stragglers are not official state vehicles; rather, just zealous supporters of the president, who is currently two years into his term, part of which he served as interim president, and the last year of which he was actually elected to hold the position (apparently Zambia’s political future has been in some upheaval since the previous president died suddenly in 2014, after a brief illness). Either way, almost as quickly as our waylay began, it was over, and we continued our journey toward the center of Lusaka.

As we drive, Teresa and Davidson chat about the economic progress Zambia has made within the past 5 years, and how it has changed the way Lusaka looks and feels. He notes that the house in which we are staying did not exist 5 years ago, and that the economy is really booming (Teresa is amazed by the number of people in Lusaka who have cars). Although he does not live in Zambia, Davidson is very knowledgeable about the country and the culture.

I mostly look out the window at the scenery, and as we leave the wealthier portions of Lusaka (where many of the tourist hotels and western-style buildings are), the buildings become more sparse. The area looks like a typical US suburb, except that all along the roadside are entrepreneur stands where people are selling everything from homemade dog houses and chicken coops, to headstones and grave markers, fruits and vegetables. At intersections people stand in between lanes, selling cell phone minutes, especially since wireless devices have become more ubiquitous in the last decade. In the expanse of space between the two-lane highway and the backs of the suburban sprawl, are high-tension power lines, as well as drying stalks of corn and heaping piles of garbage. The driver says that people do actually grow and harvest the corn when in-season. However, I cannot imagine growing food on land that is also a large open-air garbage dump. Children and adults are squatting atop the miles and miles of garbage, picking out items of value, and then burning the rest. The acrid smell of burning plastics and additional unknown fumes are a constant, day and night.

We arrive at the rental home around 3:30pm, and set up our luggage. The house, like nearly all built in Lusaka, is modern looking, with tile floors, and a lot of marble accents. It’s located right off of a main road that leads out of Zambia (despite the increasing traffic, the newly paved road remains one lane in each direction), is made of cinder block with a tile roof, and a 7-foot tall cinder block wall and security gate.

Davidson lets us know that we have about an hour to relax before we head over to his fiancée’s home, where her family is making a special meal. I meet Peter, who is a friend of Davidson’s and a Full Circle Learning Zambia graduate. Peter works as a government health counselor, which involves him and a team of several others visiting 3-4 families a day, performing HIV testing, delivering test results, and connecting people with social services. Peter is very nice and friendly, and warmly welcomes us. He’s staying with us in the rental house, and is a Groomsman in Davidson’s upcoming wedding. During the week he goes to work, and in the evenings spends time talking to Teresa and I.

After resting for an hour we drive to Davidson’s fiancée, Bridget’s family home. When we pull into the driveway, I see Bridget first. She invites us into the house, where we meet her mom, and Davidson’s other Groomsman, Asante Kyei Baffour (pronounced “A-saun-tay Chay Ba-four), who is from Ghana. We watch a soccer game (Mexico versus Russia), and then Mabel (Bridget’s sister and the head administrator for FCL Zambia) brings us a pitcher of water and bowl to wash our hands. We eat a typical Zambian dinner, and Bridget has added a few extra dishes for the occasion. The center of all Zambian meals is a maize dish called shima. Shima has the consistency of congealed grits, and it is prepared by mixing corn powder in boiling water. Normally there is no seasoning to shima. Zambians prefer not to use utensils to eat, instead breaking off a piece of the porridge-like shima and using it to scoop up the other portions of the meal (e.g., beef stew, vegetable stew, sautéed pumpkin leaves, mashed beans and nuts, etc.). I heard the refrain over and over again that, in Zambia, you have not eaten unless your meal consists of shima. You can have a bowl of rice and an entire chicken, but if you have not eaten shima, you have not yet eaten.

Most of us eat that first meal with our hands. I notice that I am the only left-hander at the table. I also notice that most people do not wash both of their hands when Mabel offers the water, but just the right hand. I lean over to ask Peter if it’s considered rude to eat with my left hand, to which he gently smiles and asks, “Is your left hand the hand you write with?” I confirm that it is, and he laughs and says, “That is okay then.” Like many parts of the world, left-handed children born in Zambia are converted to right-handers, and so the rate of left-handedness there is far below the world average of 10 percent. One of the drivers noticed me using my left hand to write, and asked if left-handedness is common in the states. I explained that it is not any more common than the average in all countries, and he noted that it is very rare to see a left handed adult in his country.

Teresa and I say our goodbyes and return to the house to discover that, although we have lighting in our room and attached bathroom, we cannot actually get the lights to turn on. We look for signs of mosquitos (we closed all of the windows in the room and bathroom, since none have mosquito screens), and finding none, decide against trying to put up the mosquito nets that Teresa brought with her. I’m desperately trying to stay up until 9pm in order to avoid severe jet lag, and go to the kitchen looking for another bottle of water. While in the kitchen I notice what looks like a spider crawling on my arm, only to realize it is a mosquito. By the time I finish brushing my teeth using the bottled water, it is clear that I have been bitten. I resolved to take my anti-malaria pills religiously at the same time each day, in order to avoid potential malaria infection. After trying to get a wifi signal, and then trying to get a cell signal, I go to bed around 9:30pm.

Stay tuned in to read Day 2 of Michelle’s adventures. Check out Michelle’s interview on why she felt the need to help and find out more on what people can do to help. 

Michelle Walker on the Full-Circle Learning Center in Zambia

The EHG Fund has always admired the Full-Circle Learning’s initiative to bring developing countries higher levels of education. We are committed to furthering the education of the world’s youth for a better tomorrow. Last year we were in Liberia to attend Full-Circle Learning Center’s Conference to see firsthand, the changes and challenges Full-Circle has had to deal with to help that community deal with their educational issues.

This year Michelle Walker, Content Developer for DentalXChange, attended Full-Circle Learning Center’s Conference in Zambia to represent the EHG Fund and see how the program’s influence has shaped the school system and to learn what more we can do to help the Zambian people. Michelle was kind enough to write a daily log of her trip that we will be featuring over the coming weeks. First, we sat down with Michelle to talk to her about her trip and why she felt the need to help.

 

What inspired you to get involved with the EHG Fund?

My background is in learning (I have a Master of Science degree in Instructional Design and Technology, and I studied pedagogy while teaching courses at UC Irvine during my doctoral program), and when I found out that the EHG Fund helps to support the Full-Circle Learning (FCL) nonprofit organization, I could not help but dive in.

Besides helping to support international projects, I also enjoy participating in expanding EHG Fund’s efforts to help our local community, via philanthropic initiatives and networks DentalXChange has established throughout Orange County.

What is the EHG Fund doing to help Full-Circle Learning in Zambia?

The EHG Fund supports Full-Circle Learning efforts in Zambia by helping the organization offer teacher trainings (all training is free), purchase school supplies, and provide financial support for limited student scholarships.

 

What were some of the activities you participate in? 

Working with the EHG Fund to expand efforts in Zambia is one of my greatest joys. In addition to visiting schools in Lusaka, conducting interviews with school leaders and parents, I am currently a contributing member on several large-scale projects that I hope will assist Full-Circle Learning in achieving its goal of “Education as Community Transformation” in Zambia, now and for generations to come.

What was your favorite part of your trip?

 My favorite part of the trip was meeting so many new people and becoming immersed in a culture that was entirely new to me. I also really enjoyed interacting with the kids and teachers. I thanked them all for their dedication to education (both the teachers and the students), and I let them to know that their efforts are seen and acknowledged.

You attended a wedding while on your trip, was it different than an American wedding?

The wedding I attended was both different and similar to an American wedding.

Like an American wedding, the reception was held in a large hall (it was actually a very beautiful place called the Mulungushi International Conference Centre), and there were about 200 guests. There were speeches, dinner, cake-cutting, and dancing. We even got a live performance from one of Zambia’s biggest musical stars, Macky2.

This particular wedding differed from a traditional American wedding in that the actual wedding ceremony occurred on Sunday, the day after the reception. As well, the reception started at 7pm Saturday night in order to accommodate all of the guests who work during the day on Saturday, which is common in Lusaka. Additionally, there were some culturally significant ceremonies that were performed at the reception, for example, the presentation of the cake to the bride and groom’s families, and when the bride laid down at the feet of her parents and the groom’s parents.

How did this trip affect you personally?

The people of Lusaka made a huge impact on me. I gained a greater appreciation for the material and non-material things that are afforded to me as a US resident and citizen. Freedom of education and the opportunity to pursue so many intellectual endeavors, to name a few. For example, my gender does not limit my life trajectory in the same way that it does so many young girls and women in Zambia.

Having said that, Zambia is a country of contrasts, of Range Rover dealerships and 24-hour garbage fires along the roadside. To see very young children sitting atop heaps of garbage, picking through the refuse for anything of value… it is obviously going to be a life-changing experience, with long-lasting impacts. I saw so much poverty and struggle, but also so much valor and wisdom and strength, every day that I was there. I saw kids in school uniforms walking miles to receive an education. I saw parents volunteering, making sure all of the community’s children were cared for. I saw people doing their best, and being so humble about the ways they were improving the lives of generations of Zambians.

What more can people do to help?

The key to helping EHG Fund efforts to support Full-Circle Learning initiatives in places like Zambia (and around the world), is to know that a need exists, and to do something. Now that we know the need exists.

 

We thank Michelle for her efforts with the EHG Fund and for taking the time to talk to us. Michelle’s daily log of her adventures in Zambia will be posted starting next week.

Lindsey Schurman In Liberia – Day 4

Lindsey Int PhotoIn May 2016, Lindsey Schurman, Manager of Client Services atDentalXChange and a representative of the EHG Fund, went to Monrovia, Liberia to attend Full Learning Center’s Conference to see firsthand, the changes and challenges the Full Circle Learning has had to deal with to help that community. She was king enough to write a daily log so we can read about her adventures. 

Day 4 

20160527_104823We were lucky to start day 4 without rain. This allowed us to visit two schools outside of Monrovia, Korto and New Hope. The schools were about an hour’s drive away. This was not because it was a long distance away but required a large distance of driving over unpaved roads to get to the school. These roads were difficult to drive along and required much care. This is the case for most roads that lead to villages in Liberia. Davidson explained that the road to Korto had been slated for paving multiple times but when it came time to pave the road they were told by the government there was no money.

The school in Korto had planned to do a service project in town this Friday but was unable to due to the weather of the week. This is an area that has faced a great amount of gender based violence and one of the classes had planned a project to go out in to the community to ask about what ways they could do something in the community to prevent it. Instead we were able to visit the classrooms of each grade to meet the students. The school was no bigger than the 2 floors of our office building but there are currently just over 500 students enrolled. Additionally, the principal shared that over 100 students had left over the course of the year due to the inability to afford tuition.

Each class welcomed us and we had the opportunity to see some of the lessons. We entered the preschool class as they practiced their ABC’s, the first grade class as they practiced reading and the twelfth grade class as they spoke about the age of imperialism. We got to speak with teachers from all grade levels during a quick recess and watch the children play.

kids-school-yardWe then went to New Hope, a school that has remained tuition free to allow students the ability to attend school when they would otherwise be unable to. The director of this school was sick with typhoid at the time and was not able to make it to the school to meet us. Unfortunately when we arrived, school was done for the day but several children remained for the afternoon. Two girls were preparing for a performance on Saturday and we got to see them dance in traditional African outfits. I received a tour of the school from one of the teachers. Each of the classrooms I saw was small with only a few desks; in some cases, 2 or 3 grade levels were taught in the same room. After the tour I was told about what the school had done to assist with learning during the Ebola crisis. At the time, schools, business, government programs, etc. were closed and people were very afraid to go outside and interact due to the easy spread of the disease. It was described as a ghost town. In order to continue educating students that wished to continue learning, this particular school held classes underneath the mango trees just outside the grounds. The classes were so popular students had to be turned away when class size got to big to maintain.

After visiting schools, we drove to central Monrovia where we went to a library run by a program called We Care Liberia. This program and library were started to encourage pleasure reading, which would assist with the literacy problem in Liberia. The program also publishes books by Liberian authors to promote writing from the community. Several students were using the space to study and a volunteer with the library was giving a talk on Early Childhood Development and the necessity of literature in this process.

20160527_172453It was a very enlightening day that ended with pizza in central Monrovia followed by reviewing the newspaper articles that published a review of our conference from the day before with glowing remarks!

Lindsey Schurman and Her Time in Liberia

“I can only hope I go through my everyday life caring about others in the ways I saw Liberians do” – Lindsey SchurmanLindsey Int Photo

The EHG Funds’ commitment to helping the community and the world abroad is a direct reflection of the employees of DentalXChange. Their unparalleled passion for wanting a better future for the children of our world has lead us to find like-minded organizations to help support; organizations like the Full Circle Learning Center.

Full Circle Learning was launched following the civil unrest of 1992 in Los Angeles, to help children caught in the maelstrom of the times. Its early volunteers from various community organizations served the Baldwin Hills neighborhood, working in space donated by the Baha’i community. They found the need for long-term, organic change and designed a curriculum that would help students develop a deeper sense of purpose for their learning and in their lives. The research-based, time-tested educational approach that was developed quickly attracted the interest of the broader learning community and is now taught all over the world.

In May 2016, Lindsey Schurman, Manager of Client Services at DentalXChange and a representative of the EHG Fund, went to Monrovia, Liberia to attend Full Learning Center’s Conference to see firsthand, the changes and challenges the Full Circle Learning has had to deal with to help that community.

We sat down with Lindsey and asked her to give some details about her trip.

How did you get involved with the EHG Fund?

I had been aware of the EHG Fund throughout working at DentalXChange and encouraged providers to donate based on their claim submission throughout my history with DXC but my involvement has been more recent, when I took the time to find out what Full Circle Learning is doing for the global community. In Liberia, I was aware of the difference they were making with girls in a community that is deeply impacted by gender violence.

What is the EHG Fund doing to help Full Circle Learning?

Teachers LibThe EHG Fund has helped to facilitate Full Circle Learning’s exponential growth over the last 10+ years. Specifically in Liberia, the program has only been in the country for 6 years and has grown to 81 schools with many more on the horizon. In August, they expect to hold a training seminar for 3000 teachers and school administrators, which will bring the school count to over 100 in Liberia.

What is the age range of the kids in school?

I met children of all grade levels K-12.

What is the curriculum that they are teaching these children?

Kids School yardThe curriculum is what is required by the state but when teachers are trained in the Full Circle Learning program they are able to shape it to include ideas that promote community building, leadership and humanitarianism.

Did you participate in any activities while at the conference or with the schools? 

I did participate in some activities at the conference. I sat with the Non-Governmental Officials at the conference and had an open guided discussion about how we can help kids incorporate the theme of the conference into their lives outside of the classroom. We also discussed facilitating the growth of the Full Circle Learning ideas in the classroom by getting involved with the teachers and administrators. We had 2 projects planned for our trip, 1 agricultural project and 1 marketplace project, but both were unfortunately canceled due to rain..

What was your favorite part of your trip?

It is hard to pick a favorite part. I think if I had to narrow it down, I would choose watching people (the ministry, teachers, school principals, and FCL) speak so passionately about what they want to change in Liberia’s current education system and what needs to change. It was inspiring!

What more can people do to help?

Be A CandleDonations are key for Full Circle Learning. Currently in Liberia, they are planning to host a training seminar for 3000 teachers and require funds to set this up and provide each school with Full Circle curriculum. Funds from the program go toward training teachers, providing them with the curriculum books and other resources needed to continue the program, transportation and food for the trainings, and a small stipend for staff of the program.

How did this trip affect you personally?

Lindsey withComing out of the trip, I have a much better understanding of life in Liberia and Full Circle Learning. On a personal level, there were multiple times during the trip I had to step outside my comfort zone in order to move forward with my day. One example, there was no running water is most of the buildings I visited, which meant putting water in your own toilet. I was able to see firsthand how communal their society is and how they work together for the betterment of their children. I can only hope I go through my everyday life caring about others in the ways I saw Liberians do.

 

We thank Lindsey for her efforts with the EHG Fund and for taking the time to talk to us. Lindsey has written a daily log for her adventures in Liberia and we will be featuring them each week on this Blog, starting next week.

If you would like to donate to the EHG Fund or learn more about whom we support, click here.