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OTF Supports Teachers and Children, Abroad and At Home (OTF Report)

Rian McLaughlin

For over 50 years, OTF's International Assistance Program has built schools, purchased learning materials, funded professional development programs, strengthened  teach­er union capacity, and helped countless numbers of the world's poorest children to stay in school, placing textbooks firmly in their hands and school uniforms proudly on their young bodies.

In recent years, the fund has been inundated  by requests: last  year alone it  received over 300  requests for assistance. OTF  allocates 1.8  percent of its  net fee revenue annually to funding as  many worthwhile requests  as it can. Committee members representing all affiliates oversee the fund and are clear on its  priority areas: support for special needs students, projects  involving victims of  HIV/AIDS,  school  water purifi­cation  and sanitation projects, and all educational  projects benefitting girls and women.

Here is a small sample of six of 30 girls' and women's pro­jects supported directly by OTF in 2009-2010 and 2010-2011.

  • Social Action for Abused Kids in Liwasang Bonifacio, Manila. Funding supports tuition fees and other educational needs of 165 girls who have been victims of sexual abuse, neglect, and abandonment.
  • •Arvajana Seva Sadan in Kadapa District, Andhra  Pradesh, India. Funding supports the education of 40 girls aged10 to 16 years. By tradition, girls are not encouraged to pursue an education and are expected to stay home and look after the family. The organization convinced the parents of the target group to send their girls to school.
  • Guiding Eyes for the Girls' Welfare Home received funding to support the education of 180 girls aged 3 to 18 years old in an orphanage in Antipolo City, Philippines.
  • Apoolo Na Angor Vocational  Skills Academy in Mbale, Uganda receives funds to buy basic furniture such  as cutting tables and sewing stools for a crafts centre that teaches tailoring and agricultural skills to rural women and girls.
  • Rahamath  Mahila Mandali. OTF funding supported the construction of washroom facilities and the purchase of games materials for 120 girls aged 5 to 14 years at the S.S. Niketan English  Medium School in Kadapa, Andhra Pradesh, India.
  • Members Association Social Service (MASS) received funding to hold a one-day workshop for 500 senior students,  police officials, and psychologists in Chittoor District, Andhra Pradesh, India to bring awareness of and find solutions to the problem of 'eve teasing' — the harassment of young girls.

You   can  access  more  information  on   OTF's   International Assistance Program  by visiting otffeo.on.ca.

I would also likely to briefly highlight OTF's ongoing support for the Shannen's  Dream Project and Heartspeak (an  organization that engages youth in video production) here at home. A documentary  chronicling  the   courageous   life  of  Shannen Koostachin and  her dream for equitable funding and support for schools for First Nations children in Ontario and beyond has now been produced. I encourage you to visit the website heart­speak.ca and engage in making Shannen's  Dream a reality!