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Elizabeth Rachel Bowers

In March 2002, Elizabeth (Beth) Bowers died as the result of a bicycle accident in Zambia while she was serving as a Peace Corps volunteer. Beth, almost 23 (1979-2002), was “a child of light, an adventurer of the spirit, and a seeker after world peace and understanding.” Her post was the village of Lumwana West, in the Mwinilunga District of the Northwestern Province. Beth was teaching rural farmers how to integrate productive fish farming practices into their traditional farming systems. Her work in Zambia with the Peace Corps was the perfect way for Beth to fulfill her commitment to "give back" to others less fortunate.

Beth and Fish

Beth was dedicated to world peace, community development, and the creation of greater opportunity for women. As a testimony to her efforts and beliefs, her family decided that her work should continue. In consultation with Peace Corps, they focused on providing academic scholarships for girls from the Lumwana West area. Scholarships were targeted as a means of providing sustainable development for the area through education and empowering the women she so admired in the spirit of Elizabeth.

Elizabeth Bowers Zambia Education Fund

Beth's family created the Elizabeth Bowers Memorial Fund (EBMF) and turned intense personal grief into a positive, nurturing program for the girls in the community of Lumwana West. Donations in Beth's memory funded education opportunities for village girls beginning in 2005. Peace Corps was a partner in establishing EBMF, and facilitated the transfer of funds to Zambia through the Peace Corps Partnership Program. Kenny Forrest, the new Peace Corps volunteer (PCV) in Lumwana West, helped to identify girls eligible for scholarship to Lumwana West Basic School and for boarding at Mwinilunga Secondary School. He administered funds for the first scholarship recipients.

Elizabeth Bowers

As funds continued to accrue in Beth's memory, it became clear that this money should continue the education of these girls as long as possible. The Elizabeth Bowers Zambia Education Fund (EBZEF) was established as an Oregon Corporation in 2006; in 2007, all obligations and assets of EBMF were transferred to EBZEF when it became a 501(c) (3) non-profit organization. Since managing a scholarship program is not within the Peace Corps mission, EBMF developed a partnership with World Vision Zambia, who maintained an Area Development Program (ADP) in Mwinilunga. WVZ continues to disperse funds locally and to provide administrative support for EBZEF for a service fee through a negotiated memorandum of understanding.

Beth's Girls

Lumwana West girls receiving the scholarships call themselves "Beth's Girls." Several of the early recipients knew Beth and were proud to continue her legacy. When EBMF was created, only four girls in Lumwana West received an education beyond grade 7; almost no girls were sent to boarding school to receive a high school education. Today, EBZEF has supported more than 315 individual girls in Basic School, High School, Trade School or College. Post-secondary training/college graduates have started to call themselves "Beth's Ladies."

Beths_Girls

Scholarships for Beth's Girls began to phase out in 2013, as EBZEF transitions to raise funds to bring a secondary school to Lumwana West. Thus, every family can more readily afford education through grade 12, and all girls graduating from high school will be funded for higher education as funds are available.


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GRATITUDE FROM BETH'S GIRLS

March, 2013

Thank you to all loyal EBZEF supporters, volunteers, and donors!

 

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