Nashoba Brooks Bulletin

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The Nashoba Brooks Bulletin featured former co-director Liza Cowan and Circle of Women in its Spring/Summer 2010 Issue.

From Nashoba Brooks:

“In Afghanistan and Pakistan, countries where Circle of Women has been building and renovating, “Students will most likely never see a Westerner,” Liza says. “Instead, students see their village elders effecting change as they leverage Circle resources. Although we fundraise, organize, and spread awareness at home, experienced collaborators manage construction locally, often becoming the ‘face’ of the project in doing so. Our classrooms do not have plaques on the wall saying ‘Gift of IBM or Circle of Women or specific Donor X.’ Our goal is to enable women, and whole communities, to use the voices and the tools of their own cultures to affect meaningful, sustainable change.” This tactic can make the work “a tougher sell,” Liza says. “There are definite fundraising challenges associated with such a highly localized philosophy. Unlike many of our peer organizations, we don’t offer things such as penpal programs for donors or an international curriculum that prepares girls to come to Western universities and eventually meet their sponsors. Our organic approach requires a kind of leap of faith on the part of our donors.”

The organization’s exit strategy reflects this trust in the local community. It also reveals a commitment of continuity that is, according to Liza, “unique within our ‘industry.’” She explains: “For example, while Greg Mortenson [Executive Director of the Central Asia Institute; author of Three Cups of Tea; Stones into Schools] builds a school, hands the key to the village, and leaves, we do not leave until each school has been equipped with a sustainability mechanism.”