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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My how time flies!

Larabanga mosque

Larabanga mosque

I cannot believe that January, February and most of March have gone by without another word about our many activities. Our Afafanto Scholars have just begun their second semester at their respective schools. We have now turned our attention to distributing application forms to our next group of applicants. Emelia and Ibn will travel over dusty roads to the many tiny villages dotting the West Gonja province of Northern Ghana. We expect to fund 3 more girls next year for a full group of 10 deserving young women. That will be a tremendous achievement for our small organization that started with a dream to honor the memory of one strong young woman who wanted to make a difference. Now we must gather our energies for some serious fundraising. We have been hard at work on our first online fundraiser and gala event that culminates with a silent art auction on April 13. Please visit http://www.eventbrite.com/event/5285350626#. It will be upon us before you know it.  Thanks a million to the wonderful artists who have donated their work for our cause. We hope to raise the funds so that all 10 girls will be able to complete high school and perhaps even provide some funding so that a small group of teachers can go to Ghana this summer to work in Larabanga with the teachers there, showing them how to improve their teaching methods so that even more girls can pass their B.C.E.C. exams and enter high school.

Harnessing the use of social media to spread the word about our efforts has been a real but exciting challenge. One I believe will best reach Leah’s contemporaries who have a vested interest in the empowerment of women to improve their world. Word has a way of spreading beyond any traditional forms of communication. It actually has made our world smaller. I communicate with Emelia via Skype from Tamale, Ghana to Philadelphia, PA on a regular basis. We have even conducted our board meetings on Skype. Ibn corresponds via Facebook with a myriad of new acquaintances (search for Yakubu Ibn Ibrahim). I have been learning how to utilize technology such as Eventbrite so that people can buy tickets online to our fundraiser, you can even view an online catalog of items to be auctioned off at our event- https://www.biddingforgood.com/auction/AuctionHome.action?auctionId=186267693. Please view the catalog and send a comment or make donations online and equally important,  interact with us to improve the way we can best fulfill our mission. We are currently investigating making our presence known on a variety of causes websites as well. We have Facebook friends from almost every continent. Please make comments on our various postings on Twitter, Facebook and here. It will really help us to improve in this area.

Technology education is also an important goal for our Afafanto girls. Each girl receives an email address and a week’s worth of computer training from us when she enrolls in school. Her village receives a computer which will become hers when she graduates. We expect the girls to send reports to their mentors via email. Although nothing takes the place of actually meeting and speaking and experiencing life in another culture to make the issues such as women’s education palpable, technology makes reaching helping arms across the oceans possible.

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As days begin to grow longer, have a wonderful Vernal Equinox, Sandee

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Happy New Year

Amazing soon it will be 2013. This organization has come a long way since the idea to honor Leah’s passing by helping young African women was planted in my brain by BB and Nethra, two very wise friends of hers.

Alisah Yuseff of Larabanga holding a papaya

Alisah Yuseff of Larabanga holding a papaya

I have just completed the mid year report for our Delta Kappa Gamma  Project Grant and reapplied for a second year of funding from them. Delta Kappa Gamma is an educational honor society that promotes professional and personal growth of women educators and excellence in education. They have supported our efforts with a $2,500.00 grant for the Afafanto Scholarship Project in 2012. This grant enabled us to double our support for this year to 4 girls whose photos you see to the right and below. In addition, our local DKG chapter of Beta Mu has been extremely generous with their efforts to help with mentoring and fundraising. Karen Lachenmayer, of Beta Mu has joined our Board. Welcome Karen!

Rafiya Karim in front of Larabanga Primary School

Rafiya Karim in front of Larabanga Primary School.

Patricia Abugrago in her Bawku Secondary School Uniform

Patricia Abugrago in her Bawku Secondary School Uniform

Looking backward to this past year’s accomplishments, I am most proud of the fact that now we are an official 501c3 non profit entity listed with the IRS and searchable among other notable charities. Looking ahead, we need to focus on making Leah’s Dream sustainable far into the future. We need more visibility and obviously a continued source of funding. Please mark your calendars to join us for our first ever Leah’s Dream Fundraiser. The date has been decided: Saturday evening, April 13. Thanks to those of you who have offered to donate your art work for our online auction we continue to look for more works to showcase and sell as well as help in organizing the event itself. Please let me know if you would like to contribute to our fundraiser in some way.

Sophia Yakubu of Daboya with her brother.

Sophia Yakubu of Daboya with her brother.

If you wish to be put on our mailing list, please leave a comment. Also, I would love your feedback on this blog so do comment. Comments will not necessarily be posted.

And now,

Happy New Year to all and Best Wishes for a Healthy and Prosperous 2013.


A classroom in Larabanga

A typical classroom in the Northern Region.

This is the second posting of our new blog. With it comes some exciting news. Our Afafanto Scholarship Fund has been in existence now for 3 years. We have one student, Mariama Iddrisu who is finishing her final year in INDESCO Senior High School. In Ghana, high school is only 3 years and the more academic students usually go on to university. Some students do not finish primary school until they are 19 or older. Leah’s Dream was to offer the opportunity for more girls from the Northern Region to have at least a high school education. We are very proud that Mariama has stuck with her program and has improved greatly.

Mariama, Sandee, Ibn and Abusco

A proud Mariama Iddrisu receives our first Afafanto Scholarship Award

Last year we offered a scholarship to two students, Saaka Arabiatu and Mukuramatu Abdul-Razak. They are now in their second year and thriving. Saaka is at Damongo Senior High School and Mukuramatu is at Northern School of Business.

This year we are pleased to be able to offer a scholarship to FOUR young ladies thanks to the generous grant that Leah’s Dream received from the Delta Kappa Gamma Educational Honor Society. They are (drum roll please): Karim Rafiya of Larabanga, age 16, Patricia Abugragu age 18 from Bawku, Alisah Yussif, age 18 from Larabanga and Sophia Yakubu from Daboya. In her essay Karim writes “I am a brilliant but needy student and this scholarship will help me further my education after senior high school to the tertiary institution.” She likes “fufu with groundnut paste and volleyball”. Alisah states that ” in my community, the girls who lack education may be led astray and it leads them to pregnancy and I don’t want to engage myself in such behaviour.” Sophia writes ” due to lack of employment by my parents to support my education, I am applying for this scholarship to help finance my education, to have a better future career and to improve the image of the scholarship programme.”  All the girls were selected based on their essays, their score on the National Exam, the remoteness of their villages and other minor criteria. I will post more pictures or them in the next issue of our newsletter.

Mukuramatu in her school uniform

Also don’t forget to check out our video and photo albums on our Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/Afafanto.

The video highlights another of our Leah’s Dream projects which is the support of the Sangrakiku Women’s Shea Butter cooperative. We are helping them to develop markets for their excellent product in the U.S. Anyone wishing to help with this venture, please contact me.

As I am understanding the Ghanaian educational system, these girls must achieve at least a score of 36 on their National Exam, the B.E.C.E. which they take in June. The scores are posted during the summer season and students are offered admission to senior high schools based on those scores. As high school in Ghana is a boarding school, they are not guaranteed a school near their villages. This is a big adjustment for them. Their year usually begins in November to allow time for upperclass students to get started in September before the new students’ orientation.

Finally, a word about some of our future plans. We will be holding our 2013 annual fundraiser this year in March. It will be a silent art auction. There is much to be done so please volunteer to help out. I am especially looking for more participation from our Board members. Also, it is not too early to start thinking about joining us for a trip to Ghana hopefully this summer. The teachers in the primary schools can use lots of help in writing curriculum and learning new teaching methods. Please let me know if you have an interest in coming along.

Hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving and enjoy your holiday season. SandeeAdinkra Symbol

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A new school year and a new Blog!

    Welcome to the Leah’s Dream Blog

October 20, 2012

Welcome to the first posting of the Leah’s Dream Newsletter. In an effort to improve communications and keep up with all of the great things that happen, I am going to try to keep a monthly blog. I will upload pictures and letters sent to me from Ghana so you too can have a glimpse into the lives we are affecting. I hope to include news of our wonderful Board Members and thoughts from our supporters as well. So please add your comments.

We have grown, much has happened since our inception in 2010. The school year has begun in Ghana and our 3 current scholarship students are hard at work. Mariama, our first student has entered her third and final year of high school. An exciting future awaits her graduation. Arabiata and Mukuramata are beginning their second year. Each of our girls has a fine academic record.

Coming next month is the announcement of our 2012-2013 Afafanto Scholarship winners. This year we have obtained funding thanks to Delta Kappa Gamma International Educational Honor Society (more to come about that) to finance 3 girls so that they can go to high school all expenses paid.  Stay Tuned…