Leah's Dream/Afafanto Scholarship Fund Newsletter

Leah's Dream sponsors education and community develpment through finaqncial and mentoring support for young women in Northern Ghana


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Visiting Ghana with WIL

DN2Button-BlueSmallgiving-tuesdayI’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). 100_2280

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.

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Ibn Kamara and Sandee

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.

 

p1040267The 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?IMG_8701.JPG

Click on the link below to help our girls and women achieve.DN2Button-BlueSmall

https://donatenow.networkforgood.org/afafanto?code=website%20%26%20Blog

Thanks and looking forward to hearing from you.

Sandee

 

 


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The Graduation Issue

Wow, we now have a grand total of 16 girls who have been or a currently going through high school thanks to the Afafanto Scholarship Fund, the main project of Leah’s Dream Inc. These are our newest grads: Adzifah and Samiyah.

I met them for the first time on my last trip to Ghana in 2013. Now they are finished with their final exams and about to embark on a future that is filled with new possibilities thanks to their secondary education.

First Lady, Michelle Obama is in Africa now in support of girls’ education. It can never be said enough that in most places in our world, women are treated as less than equal with less than equal opportunities than are accorded the male population.

Take Rafia, who is now working as administrative assistant in our Leah’s Dream office earning the money she needs to go on to University. Here is her story:

Rafia was trained in bead-making during one of Leah’s Dream Inc. transition programs.

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Bead making at Bridge Transition Training

After graduation, she returned to her home in Larabanga hoping to support herself and save enough money to retake her exams. In Larabanga the villagers are so poor they are often given a product up front and pay for it later. The villagers saw her as privileged, as having been empowerd by schooling through Leah’s Dream. This justified them stealing the beads Rafia had learned to make in the transition program and not paying for them.

Disappointed and disillusioned, Rafia realized she could not make money in Larabanga, she went to Kumasi, a large city in central Ghana, to live with a female relative. They sold food on a roadside stand, but didn’t make enough to cover food, let alone save for exam money.

Emelia Guo, Executive Director of Leah’s Dream in Ghana, began to receive distress calls from Rafia. She stated that she didn’t feel safe; she couldn’t make ends meet, conditions were worse than in Larabanga. She asked to live with Emelia while she made enough money to take the exam for entrance to the government secretarial school. “I want to do something with my life! I don’t have anything.”

Though it is not a policy of Leah’s Dream to finance college eduction, Emelia softened and began to explore the possibility of taking Rafia into her home. She went to visit Rafia’s parents in Larabanga, and they were very supportive of that possibility.   Next she called Ramson, her contact with the Larabanga community, for a character reference.  He vouched for Rafia: “Help her. She is a good girl and her parents will be so happy.”

Rafiya officeSo Rafia is now living in Emelia’s home, sharing space with her own children until she can earn enough money to attend secretarial school and to live on her own. She is happy to be working and has been a great asset in our office.

One of the realities that Afafanto scholarship girls have had to learn is how much they have to study to pass the exams that lead to further opportunities. Once they graduate from high school, they are in “the real world.” To be independent, most need further training and education.

Another example is Sofia, who also wants to take the exam again. Her situation is different in that when she left school, she went to Accra, the capital, and returned to her home in Daboya. The big cities are difficult for these young women who come from small villages and boarding schools. Often they fall prey to prostitution to make ends meet. In Daboya,  she is selling beads successfully, and food at the market. She has 1,000 Cedi’s in her bank account!

Despite education, women are still needed to be the caretakers of the family. Arabiatu left high school pregnant and went to live with her grandmother in Tamale. She gave birth as a single parent and now is taking care of the baby and her grandmother. Because of her education, she has been a positive force in her village.

Starting in elementary school, a slightly higher percentage of girls than boys are in school. In junior high it evens out. In high school, girls are disproportionately represented. Families often marry off girls or use them to work on family farms. Of the fifteen Afafanto scholarship girls, only one has dropped out. As they graduate and begin to experience the challenges of adulthood, they more and more express appreciation not only for the all-expense paid high school education but also the personal contact with Emelia, the skills training with Fuleira , and the mentoring for fulfilling life choices.

I want to end with the most recent email that I have received from Ernestina, one of our second year students. If you want to help our girls, please donate: DN2Button-BlueSmall

Thanks so much, Sandee

Subject: THANKS GIVING FROM TENG – ZENG ERNESTINA

I would like to thank  you  for the items you provided me last term.
The items made studies interesting and progressive for me in School.
But since then, I have not had the chance to communicate with you due
to lack of communicating devices.
In our School they do not allow us to enter the ICT laboratory for
personal assessment.
Also, they do not permit us to go out of the School Premises without
any tangible reason
So am unable to communicate with you whilst I was in school.
I have had this opportunity to communicate with you because we are on
Mid – Terms and I am in the house
So i have the chance to visit the Internet Cafe to communicate with you.
May God Bless you and also Pray for me as I am in School to Impress
you at the End of my stay in the Senior High School.
From Teng – Zeng Ernestina


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Only 4 Days Left in 2015

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Happy New YearsmHi, This is the last you will hear from me in 2015. Leah’s Dream Inc. has had a great year. We opened an office, sponsored 10 girls in high school and trained 4 more of our graduates to go out into the world as responsible young adults. With the last few days of 2015, we hope to reach our funding goal of $10,000.00. We are more than halfway there. You can help put us over the top.

computertraining In the coming year, we are hoping to add a computer training component in our Tamale office. Unfortunately, right now, we only have one computer that all the girls must share. We help our Afafanto Scholars become computer literate so that they can compete in our modern world. We want them to have these valuable skills as they begin to earn their own money and seek entrance into university programs. The program is scheduled to begin in February for our second year girls.

Your help is urgently needed to move our training program further. Many thanks to those who have already donated to our Scholarship Program. If you have not already given, won’t you please consider helping us to purchase a computer or two?  Donate at: https://donatenow.networkforgood.org/afafanto

Adinkra Symbol This is an African symbol for transformation. Many Thanks to all who have helped transform Leah’s Dream into a reality. Have a very Happy New Year!

Sandee

 


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Give a Gift of an Education

amazonholiday

Hello, 

It is fast approaching Christmas and the holiday gift giving season is almost over. Have you thought about using Amazon Smile to purchase your gifts? If you already shop on Amazon or if you’re looking for the perfect gift, we invite you to choose Leah’s Dream as your charity of choice. Each time you buy on Amazon Smile, Amazon donates .5% of your purchase to Leah’s Dream. We applaud Amazon for their efforts to support charities like us. Here are easy to follow directions for getting started. It takes only a moment:

  1. http://smile.amazon.com/ch/27-2986141
  2. Sign in and Choose Your Charity: Leah S Dream Inc.amazonSmileLogin
  3. Begin shopping. That’s simple!
  4. Of course, if you really want to give the gift of an education to some deserving girls, you can go directly to our donate page on our website and choose an appropriate gift for your budget.DonateNow
  5. Either way, giving makes you feel good and feeling good is a gift to yourself. HAVE A WONDERFUL HOLIDAY SEASON!

wreath05SANDEE

 


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Our New Ghana Office

Ghana OfficeThe beginning of the school year is coming around for many students and coincides with the opening of our new office in Tamale. It brings forth new opportunities and experiences for the girls and (teachers).

In a few (weeks), first year girls will meet for orientation. Emelia (President and Executive Director of Leah’s Dream in Ghana) has always served as a great mentor to the each girl individually but for the first time, she will be able to have all three together. This gives the girls and Emelia the chance to ease into the new year and allow the girls to meet one another and to receive their books and suppliestextbooks.

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Later this year, 2nd year girls will begin computer training. Basic computer training is necessary as it allows them to learn more about the world around them at their fingertips. Skills such as typing and learning how to use the keyboard, going online to read emails and to write them, provides the girls with an efficient way to communicate instead of delayed corresponding caused by written letters. Emelia is hard at work setting up computers and connections in our new office. Hopefully, we will begin our new Pen Pal program later this year with some of our new volunteers from Central High School’s Global Youth United program.

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Fulera, Emelia and our Afafanto Graduates

Our third year girls participate in the Bridge Training Program. This summer, they were trained in bead and jewelry making and successfully sold most of the jewelry they made while returning the profits back to Leah’s Dream for this year’s program. The Bridge Training Program aims to empower the girls at entrepreneurship and gaining the confidence needed to market and network their work which leads to them earning some income.

The new office in Tamale provides resources to the girls to begin and continue on their education, engaging them to learn valuable skills creating positive self outlooks. Our office needs many new things such as a sign out front and computers.  DN2Button-BlueSmall

Stay tuned to learn more about what the girls are doing during the school year. We will be introducing our newest Afafanto Scholars in the next blog issue!

All my best, Sihah Joonhigh

Editor’s Note: Sihah is one of our new Global Youth United volunteers.


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Fulera

Leah's Dream Board Secretary

Leah’s Dream Board Secretary

The journey to Ghana was a tremendous experience.   Sandee, president and founding mother of Leah’s Dream, and I, Lynne, secretary of the Executive Board, found the experience so varied and intense that one blog can’t begin to describe it.   This is the first installment.

Our first full day in Accra, Ghana, started at 8:30 with a knock on the door of our room in Nee Nee Cottage.   Emelia, president of Leah’s Dream in Ghana, introduced us to her sister-in-law, Fulera Seidu. This was to be the first of many unexpected gifts during our 2 weeks. Fulera said she was there to volunteer to lead a 2-week training workshop for the Afafanto Scholarship graduates during the summer after they take their tests for university .   This capacity building program, which we later called Bridge Training, has three goals: teach marketable craft skills, provide direct experience in marketing and networking, and teach assertiveness.  At the end, we want each student to have a plan for her future livelihood and the confidence to carry it out.

As we drove through the Northern Region, the need for this program was only reinforced. We passed small village after small village where the Afafanto Scholarship girls come from: red mud, one room huts, 3-room school houses, no easy access to water, sanitation, internet or electricity. Girls are taught to help out their mothers in whatever way is needed, even if it means missing school. Modesty, no eye contact, soft voice, and obedience are built into the culture, and these qualities were displayed again and again as we met the shy, young scholars with lovely, timid smiles.

Fulera shared, on camera for Sandee, her life experience, how she left Tamale in the Northern Region with a scant $5 and worked at various jobs till she created Winamzua Enterprise. She calls herself a social entrepreneur and not only designs African jewelry, clothes, and bags, she empowers young women with an entrepreneurial spirit to help them make the transition from boarding school to an adult world of vocational and educational opportunities. What a role model and contribution to the mission of Leah’s Dream!

And there were many more. Stay tuned.  Lynne McMahon, Secretary of Leah’s Dream US

PS View the film Sandee made of Fulera talking about our new Bridge Program which is up and running as we speak in our new office!  https://www.facebook.com/Afafanto


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Our Ghana Trip-First Leg, Accra

Hi folks,

This is an excerpt from my journal during our February trip to Ghana. In the coming weeks, Lynne McMahon, newly appointed secretary of the Leah’s Dream Inc. Board  who accompanied me there and myself will be posting our reflections on our journey. Hope you learn something about the country we are supporting with our work with the Afafanto Scholarship Fund and other new programs we will be talking about in these blogs. Enjoy! Sandee

P1000021February 9, 2015

So, we survived our 12 hour flight and are here for 3 days in dusty Accra. Accra is the capital of Ghana. According to Wikipedia, Ghana is geographically closer to the “centre” of the Earth than any other country in the World. We are greeted with “Akwaaba” which means welcome.It is the time of the “Harmattan” when the wind blows the desert sands down from the Sahara to land on every possible surface. We have had wonderful fish fresh from the sea and stayed at a delightful guesthouse called Née Née Cottage. Accra is on the Atlantic coast. Hammatan100_2286Accra is also the second largest city in Ghana with a population of almost 3 million. The city is hot and crowded with many many cars, Tro-tro’s which are mini vans and taxis all stuck in traffic.  Shopping is done in open air market places and on the street.100_2280P1000105

Accra is the seat of the government founded by Kwasi Nkrumah in 1960 as the first Democratic Republic in Africa. There are 3 main institutions in Ghanaian society: the political government, the local traditional chieftaincies and religion. In Accra the religion is primarily Christian, but in the north there are many more Muslim communities each with at least 1 mosque. Well I’m jet lagged and need my beauty rest on these wonderful latex mattresses made from the native rubber trees they have in Ghana. More later….Sandee