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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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


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Future Sustainability

strengthAh well, summer is over. Our girls are on break until Oct. 1, then their new school term begins. The new Afafanto Scholarship applicants have finally received their test scores so we are now in the process of choosing our recipients. Thanks to Ibn Kamara, our second and third year girls have received their books and supplies and tuition is all paid up. Six wonderful Delta Kappa Gamma sisters have volunteered to write letters and to mentor our girls with words of encouragement. Mentoring is a big part of our philosophy for success.

Thanks to Kipo Jimah for picking up some of the slack while Emelia has been here in the US awaiting the birth of her second child. She is due any day now and will be happy to get back to her family in Ghana. Kipo, a current Leah’s Dream Board member who was a colleague of Leah’s at IFPRI has taken a new job to be closer to his own family in Tamale. We congratulate him and wish him well in all of his future endeavors.

Since Emelia has been in the US, we have had some extra valuable time to plan our next steps for Leah’s Dream. Our little organization is growing. This year we will be managing the education of 9 young women in Ghana andcontinuing to mentor our recent high school graduate Mariama Iddrisu who has ambitions to enter the nursing profession. Besides our Afafanto Scholarship, we have also stepped up our efforts to provide some teacher training in the village of Larabanga. Ibn, our erstwhile Supervisor is also a teacher in Larabanga. He has earned his advanced teaching certification with a grant from Leah’s Dream. Congratulations to Ibn!

ibn and me

Ibn Kamara and Sandee Mandel Mole N.P.

Emelia and I met in June with Alice Lesnick, Director of  Education at Bryn Mawr College. She has sent some of her students to Dalun and formed a partnership at UDS which is the University that Emelia teaches at (how is that for serendipity?) We hope toexpand our efforts at teacher education with Dr. Lesnick’s help. Helping teachers to teach better will allow more girls who want a secondary education to pass their WAEC national exams thus expanding our pool of Afafanto applicants. All part of our strategy to make Leah’s Dream sustainable into the future.

Shea Butter Cooperative

Sagnarigu Shea Butter Processing Group

Our meager efforts at marketing shea butter from the Sankarigu Shea butter cooperative, has netted a total of about $200. We are thinking about the idea of marrying our two projects (shea butter/crafts marketing and scholarship) with the idea of offering micro loans to  groups of young women who are not choosing to get a formal secondary education. We are exploring the possibility of pairing some of these girls with mentors in Ghana who they will apprentice for and learn a craft or trade. Our fundraiser this year will be offering these products at local Philadelphia flea markets with dollars earned going for our scholarship fund.  The girls’ cooperatives will get a good start at a future and we finance our scholarship program. Sustainability in action. Please comment on these ideas, we welcome your feedback ( and your donations) always.

Anyway, as the lushness of our summer becomes the brilliant golds and oranges of autumn we look forward to putting our plans into action. As always, stay tuned…Sandee