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Hoping to make education more accessible, Shantel Marekera, an ASU Mastercard Foundation Scholar, launched the Little Dreamers Foundation in Harare, Zimbabwe to open a subsidized preschool for low-income children.
In such high-density areas, guardians are typically low-income parents or unemployed siblings. Local preschools charge more than $70 a month, excluding food and supplies for each child, placing a financial strain on families.
When faced with economic hardship, most families choose to send their sons to school. Girls are encouraged to learn crafts which do not require education, such as sewing.
To give girls access to education, Marekera set enrollment in the preschool at the ratio of one boy to every three girls. The school also helps
fulfill the Zimbabwean government’s mandate that children attend preschool before enrolling in primary school.
“I am where I am today because someone believed in me,” Marekera says, citing the support she received from the ASU Mastercard Foundation Scholars Program. “I want to be the person who believes in the dreams of these children.”
Marekera also received $2,500 in seed money for the Little Dreamers Foundation from a fellowship co-sponsored by the Igniting Innovation
Summit and The Resolution Project, which support socially responsible young leaders.
She opened the preschool in August 2018 with a cohort of 15 children. It is a grassroots effort connecting local government, churches and community members.