WFWP's African Music and Fashion Extravaganza
Raises Funds to Build High School in Mozambique

Los Angeles Sentinel
SECTION: Vol. 67; No. 13; Pg. 6
October 29, 2002
Posted: November 4, 2002
by Kathy Williamson

EDITOR'S NOTE: In last week's issue, this story abruptly ended. We apologize and reprint it now in its entirety. - K.W.

Francis Awe and "The Nigerian Talking Drum Ensemble and the "African Family Fashion Show" presented by the African Marketplace Boutique were crowd favorites at the "Afternoon Tea" fundraiser hosted by the Women's Federation for World Peace last Saturday.

The colorful, standing-room-only event was held at the beautiful Los Angeles Friendship Center at 5999 Venice Blvd. in mid-city Los Angeles.

An eclectic menu including a tasty mix of scones, finger sandwiches, fruit and sushi accompanied by a glass of iced tea or juice was graciously served to the guests by WFWP members and energetic youth volunteers.

The worthy gathering was organized to raise money for WFWP's "Mozambique High School Project." In attendance were representatives from the NAACP, SCLC, Top Ladies of Distinction and other local community groups.

In 1994, shortly after the end of a civil war that is estimated to have killed one million people, created five million refugees, and destroyed 70 percent of existing educational facilities, a small handful of WFWP volunteers arrived in Biera, the second largest city in Mozambique. After polling approximately 1,000 local women, they learned that even in the face of poverty the most important thing to these mothers was the education of their children.

As a result of the war of independence, Mozambique lost one million people; five million people became refugees. The independence war was followed by a 16-year civil war which impoverished the country completely, rendering Mozambique one of the poorest nations in the world. 70 percent of the nation's school buldings were either destroyed or useless.

In the last two years, Mozambique has consecutively suffered severe floods. The government has been obliged to allocate large amounts of its budget to the restoration of disaster-stricken areas around the rivers. Unfortunately, the demands for school facilities by students who crave an education are far greater than what can actually be accommodated.

"The Sun of Mozambique Junior High School" opened its doors to 44 students in a thatched hut in 1994. By 1999, a permanent school building was completed by WFWP and to date more than 1,700 students have studied at this school. In 2000, with the full support of the Mozambique Ministry of Education, 20 acres of land in the Macarungo District in central Beira was donated to become the site of a new high school that could accommodate approximately 3,000 students in 20 classrooms over three daily school shifts.

Although the population of Beira is 430,000, the city currently has only two public junior high schools and one high school. Approximately 10,000 students can be accommodated for junior and senior high schools combined. The reality is that tens of thousands of school-age children are unable to go to school.

Sheri Rueter, WFWP, USA Vice President, stated "Lack of education is the handmaiden of child labor. In Africa, it is estimated that more than 40 percent of children between the ages of 5-14 yrs. will labor full time... Healthy and educated children are a critical force for the future. If we want to overcome poverty, first we must invest in children."

The WFWP has projects worldwide that assist women in all walks of life to contribute to world peace. Currently the work of WFWP focuses on Africa. For more information about the Mozambique High School Project, call (323) 549-5363.