June is the end of our fiscal year. Financially it has been a very successful year. We raised enough money to send 10 girls to high school next year. Yay! Now our attention needs to turn to our future plans. How to we grow? In what direction should we go? Our mission to educate more girls in Northern Ghana through providing scholarships seems to be fulfilled. Yet, there is still the problem of getting more girls prepared for high school. Not enough girls pass their B.E.C.E. exams to gain entrance to school. We need to help to improve the teacher education as well. To that end, we have formed some connections with local educators who will be travelling to Ghana to work with teachers to improve their teaching. On our upcoming trip we will also visit the high schools that our girls are attending to meet with the headmasters. We want to explain to them how important the mentoring portion of our scholarship is and brainstorm ways that we can accomplish this as they do not permit the girls to have cell phones or computers at school.
Teaching is still an uphill battle because the classrooms are just hard wooden desks and old chalkboards. If there is electricity, maybe there will be one computer in the entire primary school complex. Internet is via cell phone towers and often spotty. And the girls are begging for textbooks which they sorely need. We can get lots of old textbooks donated. The problem is the huge cost and complexity of shipping them. We can get equipment donated, the problem again is getting it there. We need manpower (or womanpower) to move forward. I am just one person and far away.
Our Shea Butter cooperative seems to be moving in a good direction. People love our shea butter. We just need help to package it once we overcome the problem of shipping the raw materials. Should we put more of our resources towards ensuring the Shea Butter Cooperative success?
Less than 1000 days until the 2015 UN Millenium Goals in education are to be met. Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf of Liberia has said that Africa has greatly improved its primary education rate. 51 million more children started going to school in sub-Saharan Africa between 1999 and 2010, as a result of African leadership on education, backed by increased aid and debt cancellation(yes in some countries they actually charged a fee to go to primary school). Let’s put our heads together and figure out ways to keep it moving to the older girls. Educated girls raise healthier families. When a girl in the developing world receives seven or more years of education, she marries four years later, and has 2.2 fewer children. Every year of schooling decreases infant mortality 5-10%. Mothers are also more likely to reinvest into the health and education of their children.
From the letters I receive from the girls, they are so grateful for our help but as they describe their day at school, each one tells me about spending an inordinate amount of time going for water. For women in the world’s rural drylands, life is defined by the burden of collecting water. For the old and the young, the sick and the healthy, it is a chore with no relief. If the lack of water is a roadblock for education, then should we look into assisring the of building more wells?
And now for budgeting. We need constantly to guard against increasing the percentage of money we use for administrative costs. Yet, I fear, if we do not spend to hire staff we will not be able to grow any further. We made a promise that for each girl we support, we will bank the full amount for 3 years of education. So each year our surplus looks deceptive. If we only give an education to 13 girls over 4 years, is that enough? Anyone with answers please speak up.
Happy Summer! Sandee