Our Stories


We believe results matter when lives are changed, and communities transformed for the Better. While in working with our partner organizations we track access to education and quality of teaching and learning as two indicators of progress, we believe it is only through the stories of change, both of the individuals and the communities, that the impact and the effectiveness of these efforts can be measured.

The inspiring and uplifting stories you will read in these pages are evidences of the impact of education and girls and women empowerment – how they lift people out of poverty and empower them to stand on their own feet to lead, with dignity and self-respect, the betterment of themselves, their families, their communities, and ultimately their nations. Enjoy!

"Literacy is a bridge from misery to hope...Especially for girls and women, it is an agent of family health and nutrition. For everyone, everywhere, literacy is, along with education in general, a basic human rights..." Kofi Annan
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Ranu’s Story: Overcoming depression through education. India.

Ranu, age 22, is a hardworking, intelligent student who is always eager to learn. She is from Gajwara village in the district of Khandwa. She began studying at Barli in 2015 at a challenging time in her life.

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Preeti’s story: Determined to educate her children. India

Preeti Kashyap, a 24-year-old mother of four, came to Study Hall Education Foundation (SHEF) almost three years ago to enroll her daughters at Prerna School. She was forced into a child marriage to a 30-year-old man when she was only 11 and had her first child at age 13. Determined to give her daughters a good future, Preeti worked in five houses to barely make ends and to send her daughters to school. When she came to Prerna to enroll her 11 year old daughter, Rakhee Panjwani, principal of Prerna, asked Preeti to also enroll herself and her two other daughters.

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Monica and Madelaine. Panama.

Monica Espinosa and Madelaine Rodríguezes are both indigenous Panamanians who would have probably been lost to poverty if the Badi School hadn’t found them, embraced them, and helped them to unlock their potential through the support of Mona scholarships.

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Kushboo’s Story, India: I want to study! I want to study!

Kushboo was born into a poor family in Lucknow, India. Her mother died when she was two. A few years after her father remarried, her stepmother died. The eldest daughter, Kushboo had to drop out of school in second grade to clean the house, cook, and look after her younger siblings.

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Beatriz and Brenda’s Story: The road to university. Brazil

Despite the severe financial difficulties that her family faces, with scholarship from Mona, Beatrice has attended Masrour School at ADCAM since age four. A studious student, she goes to great lengths to excel in all her studies as her sister did before her.

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Misheel’s Story: The child teaches his mother. Mongolia.

Four-year-old Misheel began learning stories from Hidden Gems, the curriculum used by the Mongolian Development Center, and shared with her mother. Her mother works at Family Radio Station FM 104.5 in Darkhan and she felt that "these stories are very useful to develop positive qualities in the children," and began sharing the Hidden Gems stories on the radio. Now Kindergarten children throughout the city tune in to hear her read stories before their daily nap!

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Kerolayne’s Story: I am building my future. Brazil.

"The Family Development Center in ADCAM, Brazil helped me in many situations, especially at school, because before, I didn’t have the skills I have now. I feel very grateful for all the help I received. I have also changed my way of relating to my friends. I now feel more open to new friendships, I have friends, and I share my joys with them. Thank you to all the teachers who helped me, and are still helping me, to build my future, making me a good person. Thank you very much!"

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A letter from Prerna: Unwanted, unequal, and unsafe. India.

The Mona Foundation recently received “A letter from Prerna” from Digital Study Hall. This powerful 3-minute video made in 2018 shows the impact of Aarohini Girls Empowerment Program not only on students and their families, but also in changing the hearts and minds of entire communities.

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Barli Institute Story: Changing the hearts and minds – and communities. India.

The Barli Institute is a vessel for social change, breaking down ingrained norms to build a world where women and girls can thrive. It uses a forward-thinking curriculum to address the complex social pressures that are otherwise impossible for women to escape in rural India.

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Youth Empowerment Program: Youth leading the youth. Haiti.

Haiti is in desperate need of moral leaders who will put the interests of the country and its people ahead of their own personal gain. Only when leaders create a climate of honesty and trustworthiness—and an environment that supports and rewards individual initiative—can Haiti break its cycle of aid dependency that has paralyzed its development for decades.

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Vuong, Chieu-Anh, and Phu-Sinh’s stories: Building hope and futures. Vietnam.

Vuong, an 11-year old orphan, lives with his 75-year-old grandmother. Everyday after school, Vuong and his grandmother went to the sea to search for shells and fish. On a good day they earned 30,000 VND (less than $1.50). On a bad day, they went without food. Despite often going to school hungry, Vuong is an excellent student who works hard to learn.

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Noncent’s Story: Walking four miles each way to go to school. Haiti.

Noncent is the youngest of three in a family supported by a single mother, who struggles to make ends meet selling spices and used clothes in the city. She never had enough to pay for Noncent's transportation costs, so Noncent walked almost four miles each way to attend school at Anis Zunuzi.

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Jean-Baptiste Story: Caring about the next generation. Haiti.

The students at New Horizon were asked to write an essay about a topic they cared about. Jean-Baptise wrote about the how important it is for adults to set a good moral example for the children.

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Alceus’s Story: Georges Marcellus School, Haiti

Like many children living in the area, Alceus comes from a very impoverished background. His parents work in the fields. When the crop is bad, his parents’ meager income is stretched even further.

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Aarohini Girls Empowerment Program: Lucknow, India

The Aarohini program at Study Hall Educational Foundation provides quality education and seeks to prevent child marriage and eliminate discrimination against girls in their schools, families, and communities.

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Caleb’s Story: A gifted musician discovered. Haiti.

Caleb is from Gonaives, a city in the center of Haiti. He is the youngest of four children; his brother and two sisters are considerably older. Thanks to a scholarship from Mona Foundation he was able to continue his education.

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Fenelon’s Story: Dreaming to be the school band director. Haiti.

Fenelon was given the opportunity to attend school, discover his gift of music, and thrive as a student despite facing immense difficulties.

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Ferrodin’s Story: From no school to student council president. Haiti.

Ferrodin is an 11th grader at Anis Zunuzi School in Haiti. After coming to Anis Zunuzi in 2016, she immediately distinguished herself by her positive attitude and intense desire to learn. Despite being new at the school, she soon became the President of the Student Council.

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Jessica’s Story: Youth Artist of the Year. Panama

Jessica was a very restless, withdrawn child when she came to Badi. She was taken in, loved, and cared for. To help her channel her energy and express herself, she was taught to paint at the school.

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Sabine’s Story: Graduating with pride and dignity. Haiti.

Sabine is one of four children being raised by a single mom. When Sabine entered eighth grade, her mother could no longer afford the fees. It looked like Sabine would have to leave school. Thankfully, because of donors like you, the Mona Foundation was able to offer a scholarship to Sabine.

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Shafali’s Story: Empowered and preventing child marriages. India.

Shefali, an Aarohini student at Prerna Girls School, was concerned that her neighbor, Laali, was about to be married at age 16. Laali’s mother worked in a hospital, but with the father not around, she had difficulty supporting the family.

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Shalini’s Story: From slums to star student. India.

Shalini was illiterate when she came to the Shankarpur Non-Formal Education Center (NEC) two years ago. She had never attended school before. Her parents left the country, so she lived with her grandmother in severe poverty in a slum surrounding Lucknow.

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Zubaida’s Story: Overcoming child marriage to achieve independence. India.

Zubaida was 14 years old when her mother approached the principal of Prerna Girls' School for a loan of Rs 10,000 for Zubaida’s marriage. After realizing the family was in dire financial need, the school principal found jobs for Zubaida and her mother so they could support their family and avoid child marriage. After completing a Bachelor of Art, Zubaida, now 22, works at Digital Study Hall where she manages Mona Foundation scholarships for girls from destitute families in remote areas of Uttar Pradesh.

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Kali’s Story: Transforming self, family, community. India.

Kali was born in a tribal household in Alirajpur, the least literate district in India according to the 2011 Census. When she was 11 years old, she contracted polio. Born a girl, poor, and now disabled, she had three strikes against her in her community.

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Poonam’s Story: Crying everyday to go to school – until she did. India.

This inspiring story of valor and persistence shows how a small amount of help at the right time can shape leaders like Poonam, a 17-year-old student, teacher, and activist from Shankarpur village in Lucknow.

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Laxmi’s Story: Becoming self-reliant. India.

Laxmi, now 25, is the eldest of four children. Her mother passed away when she was 13 and her father is an alcoholic who spends what little they do have on his addiction. Laxmi, determined to have a better life, worked as a domestic worker and saved. She came across the Prerna Girls School where she was able to receive an education and eventually a job to become self-reliant.

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