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Legendary female sailor partners with UK charity to support girls' education projects in East Africa

by Kelly Mancaruso 19 Aug 2018 11:22 BST
Maiden is relaunched following her restoration in Hamble © Kaia Bint Savage

Tracy Edwards MBE has announced her support of UK-based charity Fields of Life, which collaborates with local communities in East Africa to provide quality education, clean water, health promotion and other community-based projects.

Tracy, who led the first all-female crew on Maiden to sail around the world to a second-place finish in 1990's World Race, is a GB ambassador of Fields of Life and an advocate of its I AM GIRL campaign – an initiative with the goal to create and foster girl-friendly school environments. I AM GIRL aims to see 25,000 girls and young women supported, nurtured and developed within the Fields of Life school network by 2020.

This September, Tracy is launching Maiden at St Katherine Docks in London before it embarks on its three-year voyage around the world with another all-female crew. Along the way, the Maiden will be raising awareness and funds for girls' education projects through the Maiden Factor Foundation, which works with a number of charities such as Fields of Life that are dedicated to empowering girls.

Tracy said: "I AM GIRL implements simple workable solutions that get girls into school and helps to keep them there. With 130 million girls worldwide currently being denied an education, the initiative really spoke to me when I first heard about it and I knew that I had to help and become involved in some capacity – I wanted these young girls to feel empowered and to know that they can achieve great things.

"I am so proud to be an ambassador for Fields of life and encourage others who are looking for genuine, solution-based projects with measurable outcomes for girls to definitely have a look at the organisation. The simplicity of Fields of Life's message and the team's 'on the ground' approach, their engagement with the communities with whom they work and their understanding of the problems faced by the communities is truly inspirational."

Since the inception of the organisation in Ireland in 1993, Fields of Life has raised approximately £30 million, which has allowed the team to build 120 schools, educate in excess of 50,000 children and drill 673 wells across East Africa.

The I AM GIRL initiative was launched in October 2014 as a result of the frightening statistics surrounding girl retention at school in Sub Saharan Africa, where only one in five girls make it to secondary school and in Uganda, a staggering 71% of girls drop out of school before completing Year 7 and 85% do not complete secondary school.

Deborah Cameron, head of development and fundraising at Fields of Life GB, said: "It's wonderful to have an inspirational female role model like Tracy on board as an ambassador for our I AM GIRL initiative, which is committed to ensuring girls are empowered to complete their education and to grow into strong, healthy young women and that, in time, their children will have the same opportunities.

"The whole story of Maiden is so moving and the efforts of Tracy to get it back on the seas is such a fantastic example for young women and girls out there that they can do whatever the set their minds to.

"We know her endorsement and support of the charity will help us to further raise our profile and continue to empower and educate young girls in East Africa.

"We're really looking forward to sending Maiden off in September and are so grateful to Tracy and the team for their remarkable support."

Maiden will set sail on the evening of 5 September from St Katherine Docks in London and make its way to Southampton, where it will officially set off on its three-year journey from the Southampton Boat Show on 22 September.

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