S.A.M. Project


School Attendance Matters (S.A.M.) is a project started by Samantha Byrnes-Mandelbaum after she visited Malawi with her family. She was impressed to see the far-reaching and multifaceted work of Raising Malawi, but was astonished to discover that adolescent Malawian girls have no sanitary napkins and therefore miss a quarter of the school year because of menstruation.

Samantha left Malawi with a sense of urgency, and with assistance from her grandmother, Rosemary Mandelbaum, S.A.M. was born. The project provides supplies (sanitary napkins and underwear) to help provide young women with the support they need to stay in school.

First, Samantha and Rosemary spent months researching the feasibility of their proposed project. Next, Samantha made a fund-raising video and sent it to family and friends, raising seed money for the project. Within months of raising the first dollar, S.A.M. launched a pilot project of fifty girls at Chandawe Full Primary School in Gumulira Village for the 2010-2011 school year.

Almost immediately, teachers reported that the girls’ attendance spiked. Below are some of the project highlights from Lois Silo, who administers the S.A.M. project in Malawi:

Samantha and Rosemary are excited by the progress and achievements of S.A.M. To date, they have raised over $12K for this program. They plan to expand the program to more girls and more schools throughout Malawi. Hopefully, S.A.M can inspire others to find and support solutions like this one.

Below is a photo of girls in the S.A.M. program from its initial launch in 2010.

Photo of Samantha in Malawi: