Greet and Compete at the 2015 FGSO

On September 19, 2015, The Third Annual Forgirlsake Women’s Doubles Tennis Open (FGSO) was hosted at the nationally-renowned Newton North High School in Newton, MA, where it drew a field of seasoned women’s doubles teams.

As they arrived, players were greeted by volunteer tennis pros who provided coached warm-up sessions prior to the tournament. When players came off the courts after two solid hours of competition, local sponsors greeted all with samples drinks, energy snacks, athletic beauty products, designer gear, and delightful acupuncture and massage treatments.

Forgirlsake co-founder Stephanie Zelman exclaimed, “We are thrilled that the FGSO continues to be so welcomed by the Newton and Greater Boston women’s tennis community, and we thank Newton North Athletics Director, Tom Giusti, the local tennis pros who donated their time, the players, sponsors, donors, and the Girls’ Newton North Tennis Team representatives who volunteered to make this an exciting athletic event.” Over $3,500 was raised at this year’s Open, all of which will be presented to this year’s Forgirlsake’s partner organization, Pathways Development Initiative (PDI) of Uganda.

Annette Champney, a Ugandan ex-pat who now spearheads PDI in Boston, gave an emotional speech during the awards presentation at Newton North, stressing how meaningful it was to receive this kind of financial support for girls in her homeland. “You can’t imagine the tremendous difference you all make, empowering young girls to pursue higher education with this effort. We are so grateful,” said Ms. Champney, who, in turn, received a resounding round of applause by all who were so moved hearing her compelling descriptions of life for young, at-risk girls in Uganda. Thank you to all who participated and congratulations to the winning teams— see you all next year!

FGSO Morning Session Winners
1st Place: Donna Rigg and Lorna Hayward
2nd Place: Shelly Harrison and Jill Hubbard
3rd Place: Nancy Prince and Noura Guermazi

FGSO Afternoon Session
1st Place: Nancy Hughes and Janet Sweeney
2nd Place: Saru Wade and Jean Manasian
3rd Place: Deborah Mead and Cecile Andrieux

Forgirlsake Co-Founder Stephanie Zelman and
PDI Founder, Annette Champney

We had a full house of morning players!

Thank you afternoon players!

High Fiving FGSO organizers, Emilie and Noura

Dynamic Duo supporters of the FGSO!

Newton North Varsity Tennis Team Volunteers, Lizzie and Melanie

Well done, girls! Congrats to Donna Rigg and Lorna Hayward!

Well done Nancy Hughes and Janet Sweeney!

A great community of players! Awesome job!

A great community of players!

Photography courtesy of Debbie Helbing.

Forgirlsake Photographer Wins Yet Another Award

Warren Zelman began his documentary career photographing the Sega School in Tanzania for Forgirlsake. Since then he has gone on to win award after award, his most recent one being the prestigious Canadian Applied Arts Creative Excellence Award for an image taken in the Democratic Republic of Congo. We congratulate Warren and thank him for devoting so much of his time and artistic talent to conveying the importance of girls’ education.

Health in Africa image wins Applied Arts Creative Excellence Award, DRC

Classroom, Ghana

Unpublished photo of a young woman who was supported by Forgirlsake’s 2013-14 Partner, Create Change, Ghana

Smiles and Sunshine at the Forgirlsake Tennis Open

Now on its way to becoming a signature fundraising event, the second annual Forgirlsake Women’s Doubles Tennis Open was held on Sept 27, 2014 at Newton North High School in Newton, Massachusetts. This year’s event drew 72 players, a 50 percent increase over last year’s participation, and raised over $4,600.

In keeping with the Forgirlsake vision, the tournament brought women of all ages together in support of girls’ education. Competition was lively, and notably, two of the winning doubles teams in this year’s event, Marina Momot/Lydia Shver and Mary Cicconetti/Lorelei Randa competed in the USTA National Championship women’s doubles tournament this season.

It took a combined effort of volunteers and sponsors to make it all run smoothly. The event was spearheaded by organizers, Stephanie Zelman, Sami O’Reilly, Noura Guermazi and Deb Strymish, and local tennis pros, Angela Abend, Alex Loyer, Pat McFarland, and Mark Susser warmed up the players prior to matches. City of Newton middle and high school girls handled score-keeping, and refreshments for all the players was provided by Whole Foods. On site, Mui Chiropractic offered hands-on PT treatment, JOOS provided tastings, and an equipment booth was sponsored by Boston Ski & Tennis. Prizes were generously donated by Newton Tennis, Boston Ski and Tennis, Duchess Boutique, Gymnasium, Tennis Pro, Anders Lundberg, and Boston Healthy Living. A big thank you to PR maven, Lisa Rinkus, for her superb work promoting the event, as well as photographers, Cheryl Clegg and John Mazzotta for capturing all the action. Lastly, our sincere appreciation goes to Tom Giusti, head of Newton North High School Athletics, for his invaluable support of the Forgirlsake mission.

A great day was had by all! We’ll have another tournament next fall on September 19, 2015, so mark your calendars, Ladies! To get involved or participate in the event, please contact

Organizers, Sami, Steph, Noura, and Deb showing the love!
Tennis Pro, Mark Susser, warms up the ladies!
Very serious high-fiving!
Keep your eye on the ball!
Great game!
You go, girl!
Time for a fist bump!
Ready position!
Come and get me!
Take that!
Lovelies Lizzie and Lisa
Dani and Sami hamming it up
Our fab sponsors, Paul (Boston Ski and Tennis) and Mike (Newton Tennis)
Session 1 ROCKS
Way to go Marina Momot and Lydia Shver! (First place, Session 1)
Great job Jennifer Haynes and Katja Annasentz! (First place, Session 2)
Big and little volunteers
Hooray for Session 2 players!

Girls Down Under Aim High

On August 22, 2014, Elleni Tsaketas, Community Service Captain at Aplhingron Grammar School, led a successful charity event for Forgirlsake in Melbourne, Australia. With the help of Stephanie Atwa, a team of students, and Brandon Fuga, Head of Socrates House, Elleni’s initiative resulted in an extremely successful day which raised more than $1,000 for Forgirlsake.

Each term, Alphington Grammar School takes part in a casual clothes day and raises money for a particular charity. As Community Service Captain, Elleni decided to support Forgirlsake. But she believed that a gold coin donation for wearing casual clothes to school just wouldn’t suffice. So she approached her school’s Community Service Team and together they brainstormed ideas. They came up with the concept of “Christmas in August” and organized a variety of fun activities such as a photo booth, a lucky dip, and coloring and trivia competitions. The objective of this initiative was to make an even bigger difference by raising more funds and awareness.

From the start of the day everyone could sense the community spirit in the school, with volunteer parents and students of all ages assisting with the BBQ lunch. Many students got involved, from the younger children drawing pictures that related to Forgirlsake, to the older students learning about the importance of education for women.

On that day, Stephanie and Elleni also sold many Forgirlsake t-shirts that they designed for the event. The funds raised from these sales are still coming in as they continue to raise even more for Forgirlsake!

Elleni states, “This is just the beginning for our highly motivated Team, as we are extremely passionate in making a difference for this incredible cause!”

Forgirlsake would like to thank Elleni and her Team for their creativity and tremendous effort in supporting girls’ education.

Eve Potamianos and Elleni Tsaketas selling t-shirts.
Elleni Tsaketas, Eve Potamianos and Stephanie Atwa.
Elleni Tsaketas, Eve Potamianos, Stephanie Atwa, and Sidney Mandis in the Christmas-themed photo booth.
Artwork by a Year 3 students submitted to the Forgirlsake coloring competition.

The First Forgirlsake Tennis Tournament Won’t be the Last

On Sept 28 2013, the Boston contingent mounted one of its most successful fundraisers ever: A Women’s Doubles Tournament held at the beautiful new tennis facility at Newton North High School. The event attracted 48 players who competed for the Forgirlsake Trophy, and over $2,500 was raised to send girls in Ghana to their senior year of high school.

Graced by clear and sunny skies, the ladies battled through 90 minutes of exciting tennis. Local photographer Cheryl Clegg provided the action shots you see below. Stephanie Zelman, co-founder of Forgirlsake, and her team of event organizers (shown below) were thrilled at the turnout and the community support. Tom Giusti, Athletics Director of Newton North High School, and the City of Newton granted Forgirlsake access to the High School courts, and Principal Jen Price competed — and won — in the event. All participants were treated to complimentary massages, healthy juices and snacks donated by local businesses who were pleased to be a part of this wonderful day of play. Principal Price was interviewed by NewTV and commented, “This is one of the best uses for public tennis courts that you can think of — we hope to make this an annual event!” To view the segment, please visit:

We look forward to the SECOND Annual Forgirlsake Tennis Tournament next year. For more information on how to participate, contact us at

Tournament co-organizers, Noura Guermazi, Stephanie Zelman, Sami O'Reilly, and Deb Cronin. All photos courtesy of Cheryl Clegg Photography.
Deb Cronin helped organize the event and played like a champ.
Principal Jennifer Price and her partner Katya Salkever won the trophies in the second round.
Round One players.
Round Two players.
First Round winners, Kathy Goldberg and Lynne Friedlander.
Second Round winers, Newton North Principal, Jennifer Price and Katya Salkever.
Co-organizer, Noura Guermazi, hi-fives her partner.
Elsa Carvalho keeps her eye on the ball.
Lea Kelsey closes in.
Thank you Tourney Volunteers!

2012 What an Exciting Year!

We’re very pleased to announce that Forgirlsake has raised $15,400 for the Kakuma Project. With Morneau Shepell matching funds dollar for dollar, our total contribution is $30,800!

As you may know, all funds are going toward the building the only girls’ high school at the Kakuma Refugee Camp in Kenya. This was our most successful project yet and we couldn’t have done it without you. Thank you so much for your support in giving these girls an education and new opportunities.

2012 brought several ‘firsts’ and fun events. Our first Forgirlsake Club, at Hanover High, began with a student initiative. Together, students raised over $1,400 from bake sales and fundraising. Their enthusiasm is inspiring, and it’s wonderful to see engaged students helping other girls go to school. We look forward to their continued involvement. Two other events raised heart rates for our heartfelt cause. Fun was had by all in Newton, MA at the successful FUNraiser Gymnasium workout, and a special ‘shout out’ to Down Under Yoga who donated the proceeds from a special yoga class. Together, $1,150 was raised for the Kakuma girls’ school.

Our Kakuma fundraising project has come to a close, but we’ll be sure to keep you up to date with the building and opening of the school. Construction is on schedule – the ground was officially broken in 2012 and walls are up. We’ll be posting more photos during the process.

Thanks again everyone, for your continued support and commitment to girls and education.

Ground being broken for the the girls' dormitory at the Kakuma Refugee Camp, Kenya. (Image courtesy of UNHCR.)


The first walls of the structure are up. (Image courtesy of UNHCR.)


A workout at Gymnasium, Newton, MA to support the Kakuma girls' school. Special thanks to Josh Conway.


Forgirlsake co-Founder, Stephanie Zelman, and Deb Cronin Strymish who helped organize the event.


Refreshments were generously donated by The Pearl Plates, Slava Kolpokov (veggie burgers), and Trader Joe's.


Weaving the Future in Peru

The after school artesanal weaving program sponsored by Forgirlsake in the Peruvian High Andes town of Urubamba was a big success. Three girls, Alicia Riquelme, Elizabeth Sinchi and Maria Teresa Riquelme, all from a remote indigenous village, were given the opportunity to attend high school in Urubamba and teach their traditional weaving skills to their fellow high school students. All three girls finished the school year at the top of their class while the opportunity to socialize with non-indigenous children and act as teachers and class leaders contributed to a dramatic improvement in their self esteem. Alicia Riquelme, the eldest of the three, graduated high school and is going on to study tourism at the local College in Cusco, something that would not have happened without this program. The weaving class itself averaged between 15 and 30 students with a significant number of very dedicated amateur weavers. There is a good possibility that the program will become part of the high school’s mainstream curriculum in the upcoming academic year.

The weaving class took an end of year trip to the hotsprings of Lares and visited an
artesanial shop selling traditional textiles, which was very inspirational for the girls.

Alicia and Maria Teresa standing in front off weavings on display at the
cooperative-run textile shop in Lares, Peru.

Building a Philosophy of Learning in Kenya

Forgirlsake, in partnership with Free the Children, was involved in an exciting project in Kenya in 2009. In the town of Kisaruni, Kenya, an all-girls school was completed and is now open to 41 bright young women who are enrolled and learning! The $9,600 in donations raised by Forgirlsake funded the new library, which is available to the girls attending the school. The Library also features an inspirational mural with words of inspiration and hope.

We thank our Forgirlsake donors, who make projects like this possible. With their support, Kenyan girls, their families, and their communities now have more opportunities.

For more information on this project, visit

Mural at Kisaruni
The philosophy mural at Kisaruni.

A Student studying at Kisaruni high school.

The staff at Kisaruni high school.

Students in class at Kisaruni.

Girls at Kisaruni participating in the community building day.

Solar Powered Lab Empowers Girls in Tanzania

In 2010, Forgirlsake raised $9,273 to fund a solar-powered computer lab for the Sega girls’ school in Tanzania. Polly Dolan, President of SEGA (Secondary Education for the Advancement of Girls) recently had a chance to see the Form II students using the computers to write an assignment on “Why I am a Good Leader”. She stated, “I can’t tell you how excited I was to see them using computers! It will really help them for studies, and job marketability in the future.  Thank you so very much again for raising the money for us for the computers — they are wonderful.”

Below is a photograph of the lab, taken by Warren Zelman, when he visited the school in March, 2011.