I’ve just returned from leading a group from Women’s International Leaders or WIL of Greater Philadelphian on a marathon 10 days in which we toured Ghana from busy Accra, the capitol to the dusty Northern Region and back again (with a restful stop at the beach on the Cape Coast).
WIL is an organization dedicated to the empowerment of women in developing countries. Members contribute their time, knowledge and funds to support a broad array of projects that raise women’s economic and social status, promote self-determination, and help women become community leaders. Leah’s Dream has been one of those projects. The 8 women who travelled with me in early November gained firsthand knowledge of the hardships that our women and girls endure.
Providing service was part of the agenda, and it was wonderful to witness the mentoring of our Afafanto Scholars and the village women from Larabanga by these accomplished ladies. Meeting with the girls in our offices in Tamale, the WIL women talked about their lives and the work and sacrifice they made to become successful. Our Afafanto girls spoke about their aspirations as well. They all would like to continue on to university. Two want to be accountants, one a teacher, one a nutritionist, every one of the girls had big dreams to help their villages as well as themselves.
In Larabanga, 43 village women heard a presentation from WIL member Carol Cunningham on a new process for making fuel. Afterwards, the women broke up into smaller groups for a discussion on how the village women capitalize on this idea in Larabanga to earn money and save the environment at the same time. The village women were energized. All they needed was a tin drum, some organic material (they had plenty of shea butter waste) and some starch. The idea that they cold earn money and save the environment at the same time energized the village women and men alike. It will be exciting to see how they move forward with what Carol shared with them.
Traveling around Ghana is an arduous, expensive enterprise. Good roads are just now being built to the more remote areas. It took a lot of hard work and time for both Emelia Guo, Labrine Braimah, our NGO executive director and business manager and Ibn Kamara our coordinator in Larabanga to organize these meetings. I deeply appreciate their efforts on behalf of Leah’s Dream.
The costs of food and transportation just to bring the scholarship girls into our Tamale office from their various school across the country are high for a small non profit and present significant roadblocks for getting our girls and women together. It costs Emelia 650 Ghana Cedis or about $160.00 and she tries to do this at least 3 times a year so they can get the training, mentoring and fellowship that goes along with being an Afafanto Scholar. Furthermore, Labrine and Emelia do this for no compensation!
Sadly, since our last visit nearly two years ago, life seems harder than ever. Food, energy and fuel costs have gone up since our last visit to Ghana. Life seems as hard as ever. People save by using less lights. Senior High Schools suffer along with the rest of the country. Our girls spend more time searching for wood and water. Costs of uniforms and supplies have increased. It costs closer to $1,000.00 per year to support a girl in Senior High School and offer her the training to succeed when she graduates.
Won’t you please consider helping our girls and their mother’s in the villages to find new options and a path way out of poverty?
Thanks and looking forward to hearing from you.