Elizabeth (Beth) Bowers served as a Peace Corps Volunteer in a remote village in northwest Zambia. She was tragically lost in a bicycle accident in 2002 while serving. I have known Beth's parents, Gerry and Linda, since the early 1990s. I first met Beth a few years later when she worked at my work place for two summers.
Out of this tragedy came something good--The Elizabeth Bowers Zambia Education Fund (EBZEF). It is an all-volunteer, non-profit organization that originally began by providing scholarships for girls in the village. Beth was a wonderful role model for the young girls. They call themselves "Beth's Girls." It is impressive to see the changes and progress our small organization has accomplished in this village. In addition to the scholarships, there is a well-stocked Memorial Library, secondary school, pre-school, playground, teachers' houses, clean water, and an ablution block.
EBZEF has helped to educate over 315 Beth's Girls. The education of girls is strongly supported by the entire community. It has changed how they view educating girls and how the girls see themselves. EBZEF now provides scholarships for Beth's Girls in college and tertiary schools.
I am proud to have been involved with EBZEF since 2007. It is an amazing organization with a remarkable story. Nearly 100 percent of donations go to EBZEF projects. One reason EBZEF has been so successful is because of its partnerships with World Vision USA/Zambia, Engineers Without Borders, and Baal Dan Charities. But, most of all, EBZEF's success is due to the Executive Director, LInda Bowers, and EBZEF volunteers through their tireless work and passion. I highly recommend supporting this organization.
I have volunteered with EBZEF for about eight years. I met Beth when she was about six years old - we were in karate clas together and she was much better at it than I was! I was privileged to call her, as well as her sister and parents, my friends for many years. Her passing was a enormous loss to all of us and when Beth's mother started EBZEF, I saw that I could honor Beth by being part of this project. At first, we just raised money to send girls from Beth's village to school. Later, we saw a need for a library, secondary school and primary school, and have raised money for these projects. As a result, the girls in the village are educated, more confident, and some are even putting off marriage and children for a few years so they can finish school! This has been a remarkable undetaking and I can truly say that out of crippling loss has come life-changing opportunity for hundreds of young Zambian girls.
I have been the volunteer treasurer for this small nonprofit for several years. I have been incredibly impressed ever since joining their team. They are lifting up the lives of women in Zambia through education, they are very efficient with their funds, spending close to 100% of all funds on programs, and they are so dedicated to making sure they are making the right decisions. I love that contributions have such a direct effect- I know that if you give, lives will be changed. As they say, educate the woman and you transform an entire generation.
The loss of our beloved daughter, Elizabeth, began an effort to create her legacy. Since 2002, The Elizabeth Bowers Zambia Education Fund (EBZEF) has grown into a significant cultural and economic force in Lumwana West, Zambia, where Beth served in the Peace Corps. It has been my honor to support the effort to educate so many Zambian “daughters” from pre-school through basic and secondary school to college and even medical school.
We have visited the village three times. On the first visit my concern was to get to know the leaders and people of the village to know that our efforts would bear fruit. I knew nothing at all about Zambia. We were elaborately and enthusiastically welcomed by the community, receiving an abundance of heart-felt gifts from the people. We participated in a ceremony to honor Beth’s contribution to the village. The community was relieved that we didn’t blame its people for Beth’s death but instead were eager to further her vision. Beth’s vision is truly our inspiration as we support the village in finding enhanced value in the education of women.
Zambians have seen American and European benefactors visit once, do things they consider helpful (like drilling a well), and then leave, never to return. When Linda and I revisited Lumwana West, the villagers were not only thankful and gracious, but surprised by our return. We became members of the community. We enjoyed the privilege of observing secret ceremonies and of meeting the High Chief Sailunga. Because he is a sacred being, the High Chief is not to be touched physically by anyone. In our case, because the Chief wanted to express his great thankfulness to EBZEF, he ritually asked permission of the village to shake hands with us. As he did so he said to us in English, “Please continue to help my people.”
As Linda and I continue the work of sustaining Beth’s legacy, the words of High Chief Sailunga live in my heart. May hope and good will sustain us all, on both sides of the world.
One meaningful endeavor in my life is volunteering my time working with EBZEF, the Elizabeth Bowers Zambia Education Fund. My sister, Elizabeth (Beth), died in a bicycle accident while serving in the Peace Corps in NW Zambia. Beth was a female role model of courage and strength who worked to build sustainability through fish farming and encouraged women in the African village to get an education in lieu of having eight to ten children.
From the grief of Beth’s death, my family created a scholarship fund for girls from Beth’s remote rural village to attend school. In measurable terms, EBZEF has helped educate over 315 girls and is currently sending 25 girls to college and vocational school. In addition, our small nonprofit organization has initiated a preschool, and built a large library in the Lumwana West community, which has helped the entire village move toward literacy. Recently we have been working with World Vision to build a secondary school and are currently building teachers houses in the village -- a vision of sustainability to break the cycle of poverty through education.
Volunteering with EBZEF has provided the opportunity to grow professionally (web development, social media, fundraising) and has proven helping others is rewarding. I am excited my work is playing a part in changing the lives of women, children, and their community on a global level. I hope to continue to help others help themselves, as we work together toward world peace and understanding.
I’ve been involved with EBZEF for more than 10 years, and what impresses me the most is the Board’s deep respect for the community of Lumwana West and the girls as full human beings, who deserve to be heard and collaborated with equally in all things. This is not a “handed down from above” charity but rather a “found family” with arms extended around the world. It does indeed take a village to raise a child, and what a wonderful thing it has been to see the girls grow up into capable women who can continue the legacy in their own extraordinary ways!
EBZEF is an organization that really embodies the meaning of the word “empowerment.” The girls and women of Lumwana West who have received an education through EBZEF’s support turn and support their community, lifting it up from within. Their individual stories are inspiring, and my favorite time every year is opening up the EBZEF newsletter to read all of their updates and to celebrate as they graduate and start careers. It’s such a wonderful organization!
In 2002 I had the privilege of advising the Bowers family on ways to invest in memory of their amazing daughter, Beth. As a career international development professional my own preference was to invest in something durable, and sustainable. Together we decided to invest in girls' education in the very rural area where Beth had worked as a Peace Corps volunteer. This was an area where the majority of girls were not attending school. Our calculation was that if we could get a generation educated, first of all the education could not be taken away from them, would not break down, could not be diverted in any way. We believed that a generation of educated girls could have the transformative power to not only improve their own lives, but their community and generations behind them, forever.
At this point, twenty years later, it appears we were right. Today the majority of girls are in school. And there is a new high school where previously the closest was 50 miles away. There is also a library and computer center to be proud of, and a thriving pre-school. An incredible number of "Beth's Girls" have gone on to university with EBZEF support, graduating with diverse careers in teaching, nursing, radiography, fisheries science, welding and more. These girls who's sole prospect before we started was an early marriage and work in the fields have shown their community, and their country, that there is nothing they cannot do given a little support. EBZEF has provided scholarships to over 300 girls.
The EBZEF approach has also been economic, with 95% of funds raised going to the community. It's managed by a small group of passionate volunteers - not a single hired staff outside of the community. Perhaps that's what keeps the initiative pure, focused and results oriented.
There are few charities in international development this successful, and with this level of impact.
As a disclaimer, I have served on the EBZEF Board since its inception. Professionally, I am the Senior Director for the Health and Nutrition sector of World Vision International.
With the loss of Beth Bowers, an aquaculture Peace Corps Volunteer in the remote rural village of Lumwana West in NW Zambia, in a bicycle accident in 2002, the Elizabeth Bowers Zambia Education Fund (EBZEF) was born. Beginning with a scholarship for girls, over 300 “Beth’s Girls,” a name they call themselves, have gone to secondary school. Currently, 38 girls on EBZEF scholarships have graduated from or are engaged in college/vocational education programs. EBZEF created a paradigm shift as the community has changed the way it looks at the education of women. More importantly, the women have changed the way they view themselves as leaders and providers for their families, their community, their country, and the world.
With the help of significant partners, EBZEF has built a large, well-stocked Memorial Library, encouraging literacy for the entire community. EBZEF has initiated, built, and continues to support a thriving 3-classroom pre-school, which has become the center for Early Childhood Education in the Province. EBZEF has initiated a secondary school for Lumwana West, building three 3-classroom blocks as well as a girls' ablution block (with a boys' block currently under construction). The success of this project is fulfilling EBZEF’s dream to educate the “whole girl,” from pre-school through secondary school and college! Beth’s vision is being sustained on the other side of the world!
When my niece Beth died, our family was devastated. Creating the Elizabeth Bowers Zambia Education Fund not only gave our family purpose, but it continued Beth's vision of helping to create a better world. The partnership that developed between EBZEF and the community of Lumwana West is a model of collaboration. I continue to be amazed at what a difference our small group of dedicated people have made to enrich the lives of girls and the community of Lumwana West.
EBZEF makes a real difference in the lives of young women and the whole community of Lumwana West, Zambia. From the inception of this non-profit, I've been so impressed with the dedication of the volunteer staff and leadership. I recognize it takes hearts so big to reach around the world in order to do the work of this nonprofit based in the US and making an impact in Zambia. I'm grateful to founder and director, Linda Bowers, for leading the way with her heart, her passion, her hard work and her joy in drawing in the help of others also eager to make a difference for good in our world.
We are personally acquainted with the family who founded this nonprofit, and have been donors to it almost from its inception. A few years ago, I was asked to become a member of the Advisory Board, and have learned much more about the remarkable work they have done in one small village. Their focus on educating girls has resulted not only in transforming the lives of those girls, but also led to huge improvements to the village as a whole in the form of a library, a well for water, improved sanitation, and much more.
Small, but mighty. This nonprofit has helped educate over 315 girls. EBZEF strives to break the cycle of poverty through education. What a pleasure to volunteer with them, making a difference on the other side of the world!
EBZEF has shown that if you truly have a passion about something you can create something far beyond expectations and help others. Everyone who helps out with EBZEF sees the passion behind the board members and especially the founder, Linda Bowers. She has committed many years to this organization with her daughter as her motivation.
EBZEF is a great non-profit to support, every dollar donated has had a great impact on the Zambian women education. EBZEF has big plans and needs the support of everyone they can get! The secondary school they are planning on creating will take a plethora of support. I'm amazed about how much impact this small non-profit has had in Zambia and would highly recommend supporting this non-profit if you can!
I have supported this fund since its foundation. It is named for Elizabeth Bowers, a young woman who worked for my University, Tokyo International University of America (TIUA), which is affiliated with Willamette University, both located in Salem, Oregon. During her employment with us, Beth was an example of someone who knew the power of "giving back." She worked with our students from Willamette's sister university (Tokyo International University/Japan). She demonstrated leadership, conscientiousness, professionalism, and, above all, a sincere caring attitude about others, whether they were the students she was guiding, or her faculty and staff colleagues. When I heard that Beth had joined the Peace Corps and was assigned to work in Zambia, I was not surprised. We were all very happy for her and proud of our association with such an outstanding young person. Beth met with a tragic accident, riding her bicycle along a roadway in the local area, near the village where she was working. In a very short time, Beth had become a member of this community and had already made an important impact. That village has adopted Beth as one of their native children. She lives today for them and through the EBZEF efforts started by her parents, Linda and Gerry, her impact continues to multiply. As a result of this fund, which has a clear and dedicated focus on the education of the young people in that area, especially young women, Beth is still very much alive in the hearts of everyone who knows her and thanks her for what she has done, and continues to do, to help young people achieve their dreams. These efforts have included the building of school buildings, a library, and the establishment of scholarship funds that have helped young women achieve their goals beyond what would have been possible otherwise. Every time that I donate to EBZEF I know, firsthand, that the donation is going to forward the original purpose behind Beth's first contribution that she gave, and gives, through her service to her adopted community. I encourage others to consider donating to this important cause.
Review from Guidestar