July 13, 2014

Education, empowerment crack code of poverty

ESSEX — Polly Dolan swims in the plentiful waters of Lake Champlain and bobs in sunshine under a differently hued sky than is normal to her in Africa.

The Essex summer resident is the founder of Secondary School for Girls Advancement (SEGA), whose mission is to educate extremely impoverished and vulnerable girls in Morogoro, Tanzania.

At the Essex Community Church, Polly and her sister, Tracey Dolan, recently gave a presentation on the SEGA Girls School.

“Polly was with (humanitarian organization) CARE for many years and served as an international consultant focusing on humanitarian relief and environmental conservation,” Tracey said.

She is co-founder with her sister of Nurturing Minds in Africa, a U.S.-based nonprofit initiative that provides financial and technical support for the Secondary School’s development.

“It was through her research for CARE that she understood more deeply the plight for girls,” Tracey said.


Polly founded the Secondary School for Girls Advancement in 2007 and secured 23 acres of land to establish the now 30-acre campus that is home to 155 girls ages 12 through 15, who live and study in 15 solar-powered buildings.

“Many have dropped out of elementary, which they call primary, school,” Tracey said. “We’re recruiting girls that have typically dropped out of school due to poverty.

“Our goal in presenting to various groups and the public is to make them aware of the situation, especially for girls in developing countries.

"What SEGA is doing is cracking the code of poverty to empower girls. Through that sharing of information, we hope to expand our network of support.”


Nurturing Minds has chapters and volunteers in Philadelphia, Boston, San Francisco, Boulder, Colorado and Savannah, Ga.

“We’ve been very blessed by receiving three USAID (U.S. Agency for International Development) awards over the last three years, which contribute to the completion of the campus,” Tracey said.

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