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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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


Off to Ghana

Larabanga mosque

Larabanga mosque

Soon we will meet our newest Afafanto Scholars  and catch up with our friends in the villages!

Shea Butter women

Shea Butter women

We have a full itinerary from meetings in Accra to opening our new office in Tamale, not to mention a side trip to Mole National Park which is home to many elephants and other wild creatures. Most of all, however, I am looking forward to shaking the hands of our Afafanto Scholars and telling them how proud we are of their progress.

One of our 2015 Afafanto Scholars.

One of our 2015 Afafanto Scholars.

We plan on visiting and meeting with the headmasters of as many of their schools as we can fit in to our busy schedule. Stay tuned from Ghana…

Our Birthday Giving Campaign is now in full swing. We are 1/3 of the way to our goal of $10,000.00.  Won’t you please help us become sustainable and give a birthday present to Leah? She would be 35 this year.                                                                                                    

The link is also available on our website www.afafanto.org/donate.php. Give generously in time for Leah’s birthday which is February 22.

Wish us a safe trip.


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Its a New Year and a Milestone Birthday

Hi and hope you are having a grand 2015 so far.

If you missed  out on your year end giving why not give a birthday present to Leah? She would be 35 this year. Our donor page has a new look as we are now with Network for Good. The link is available on our website http://www.afafanto.org/donate. You can also donate here. DonateNow
This will make it even easer for you to make your donations to support Leah’s Dream. Look for our Birthday Giving Campaign to be in full swing in time for Leah’s birthday which is February 22. We are kicking it off January 22. bday cakeBut no reason to wait till then, give now!

Leah would be quite proud of all that we have been able to accomplish this year. Due to the Ebola crisis there was a slow start to the school year and testing was delayed. We did however, manage to begin 2 new scholarship winners in November. Their names are Abdulai Rafaia at Northern School of Business and Daakiyre Angelics at Lasia Touli in Upper West Regin. They are majoring in business and science respectively. We have 4 young ladies that are expected to graduate this year and 3 second year students. With our 3 graduates, that makes 12 girls whose lives have been impacted by our work.

In addition, we have started working with some local expert craftswomen as well as Engage Globally, another NGO organization based in Washington, DC and in Taha, Ghana. We want  to offer apprenticeships in the making of pocketbooks. This and our support of the Sangariku Shea Butter Cooperative expands our outreach to women in other ways besides education.

I am looking forward to my trip to Northern Ghana Feb. 9. It has been 3 years since I last visited my friends there. Now that we are an official NGO in Ghana as well as a 501c3 here in the US, we are busy setting up our Tamale office. We hope to have a place for women to gather and to offer computer training right there.

Leah's Dream Board Secretary

Accompanying me on this trip will be our newest Board member Sarah Lynne McMahon. Look for her bio and more news from our students in our next issue.

Till then “mah krow” or goodby in Twi, a language of Ghana,


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Happy Thanksgiving

So much has happened since my last post it is hard to know where to begin. Emelia Guo, our new Executive Director of the Leah’s Dream Ghana NGO was here for a visit in August. Together we made some daring plans to advance the sustainability of our little non profit. We hired our new consultant, Labrine Braimah to obtain official documents from the government of Ghana so now we are a legal NGO in that country and are eligible to bank under our corporate name. We have initiated a shea butter shipping process to new markets we have begun to develop in the states. Let me know if you are interested in purchasing all natural, fair trade bulk shea butter. We are expecting our first shipment soon. We are also working to establish an apprenticeship program for our graduates and other girls to train them to make lovely bags also to be sold in the States. IMG_0011With our profits, we hope that we can offer more Afafanto scholarships for eligible girls to attend secondary school. We have just enrolled our 13th young lady in school.

After Black Friday and Cyber Monday, Don’t forget Giving Tuesday

Now with all of our progress, we have to further our fundraising outreach efforts. So, we have become a part of the Amazon Smile program. Each purchase you make on Amazon via Amazon Smile will donate .5% of the purchase to Leah’s Dream. Check it out at: http://smile.amazon.com/ch/27-2986141. Look for more ways to donate online soon.

I will be making a trip to Tamale to our new office there and to visit the Afafanto Scholars. Despite all of the sad Ebola news out about West Africa, there has not been a single reported case of Ebola in Ghana. Keep your fingers crossed. More on our girls in the next post, which I hope will be sooner than this one. Sandee

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A quick thanks to everyone who contributed

Our Leah’s Dream Inc. Afafanto Scholarship Fundraiser was a big success. We can now fund scholarships for 3 more girls for next year. The Dreaming Tree Trio along with Rachel Bronstein entertained a crowd of about 60 at the Bainbridge Club. Our 2013 school year has ended now in Ghana. The girls have taken their exams. Our graduating students, Saaka Arabiatu and Mukuramatu Abdul Razak have taken qualifying tests to be accepted to their tertiary level of education (university). We are so proud of all of them. This summer I will be travelling to Ghana to oversee our programs there. I hope to produce another documentary for this blog. If you have not seen the first one on our Facebook page, catch it at this link:https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?v=2618004962538&set=vb.168996569793068&type=3&video_source=pages_video_set



Join us for the 2014 Afafanto Fundraiser

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Adinkra Symbol

Spring is upon us. Transformation from a cold, snowy winter to a warm and wonderful Spring. If you have received an invite to our Fundraiser, you may have noticed the Adinkra Symbol at the right. This is an ancient Ghanaian symbol for transformation. The transformation of Leah’s Dream into a sustainable NGO is now underway. But we need to build up our capital and that is where you come in. We are busy planning our 2014 fundraiser for this year. Our goal is to beat last year’s fundraising effort of over $10,000.00. This money has been used to support our 10 scholarship girls in Northern Ghana through secondary school. PLEASE DONATE!
 We aIMG_0011re also planning for a trip to visit Ghana in 2015. We have gotten the support of the Philadelphia organization Women in Leadership. With the help of WIL, we hope to establish a bank in the Tamale area and work with empowering women in a whole new way. Emelia has also been working with local craftswomen to establish an apprentice program to make those fabulous satchels shown at last year’s fundraiser and on sale this year as well.
I am especially excited because our May 3 gala benefit this year will be a concert performed by none other than the Dreaming Tree Trio organized by Leah’s brother Scott Horowitz. We will also be featuring guest artists who have been kind enough to donate their talents to our event. Rachel Bronstein is a jazz singer in New York City and Keith Yetter is a singer songwriter now living in Charlottesville, VA. Please visit our Eventbrite website to register. This year’s event will be held in the Bainbridge  Club an old jazz venue run by the Hotel Brotherhood in the SOSA neighborhood of Center City. We will also be selling raffles for baskets chock full of good things as well as holding an African Crafts marketplace. Hope to see you there! It will be lots of fun.

Happy Spring! Sandeedrum

If you cannot attend, PLEASE DONATE!!


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