2014 marked the beginning of the second decade operation for WomensTrust. A decade plus of service is an impressive record for a non-profit doing the kind of work we do, and we are excited to be at this point, looking forward to helping more women and girls in Ghana advance their education, improve their health and lift themselves out of poverty.
Support Women and Girls in Ghana is our main campaign, and our longest running. With an original goal of $100,000 we have now exceeded the $86,000 mark. The sucess of this campaign adds to our increasing fiscal stability and growth. This year, for the first time ever, our loan program will provide around $70,000 to help keep the loan program running.
With your help, we are in a position to continue and even expand our efforts. You have made it possible for us to help 240 girls continue in school, help dozens of small women owned business suceed and begin to connect women in need of health care with health care poroviders. Perhaps the best metric of the change you have helped bring about: in a country were virtually no women makes it to University, we sent four this year alone. Thank you so much for that.
I hop you will continue to support WomensTrust. The "ROI" on the gifts you make to us can been seen on the smiling faces of the women and girls whose lives are made measureably better thanks to your help. Ghana is full of talented and enthusiastic women and girls who are more than capable of improving their lives and the lives of those around them. They just need a chance. Thank you for helping us give them that chance.
It’s been a busy summer for WomensTrust and our scholarship recipients!
As we reported back in February, WomensTrust launched its new, "College-Bound" scholarship program for our most outstanding high school graduates -- bright young women with big dreams for their future, but lacking the financial means to continue their education and pursue a college degree.
Now, thanks to our generous supporters, our scholarship graduates have a chance to make their dreams of going to college a reality. And we're thrilled to announce that our first three College-Bound scholarship recipients -- Regine, Mary, and Stella -- have all been accepted to universities in Ghana!
Since graduating high school last year, the three young women -- all of whom were able to stay in school thanks to WomensTrust scholarships -- have interned in WomensTrust's office in Pokuase, where they assist our loan staff with loan repayments and data entry. Our interns have gained valuable work skills -- and they have even bigger plans for their future. Mary wants to study fashion design and teach at the university level. Regine wants to be a nurse. Stella plans to be an accountant.
Our College-Bound scholarships are making their career dreams come true. Stella has already started her accounting studies at Accra Polytechnic. And after completing their pre-admittance interviews this past June, both Regine and Mary have been accepted to start their first year in college this fall. Regine will be attending nursing school at the Nursing Training College at Korle-Bu Hospital in Accra. In September, Mary starts her coursework at the University of Education in Winneba.
"I am not sure what person I would be now without WomensTrust. I would most certainly have not finished school, maybe I would already be a mother now, without the means to support myself," says Stella.
For just $1,000 a year (less than $85 a month!), you can make the dream of a college education a reality for a promising young woman in Pokuase. If you would like to sponsor a WomensTrust College-Bound scholarship, please drop us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Girls Leadership Camp
In late July, 10 of our scholarship students attended a girls’ leadership camp in Accra.
Held on the campus of the University of Ghana – Legon, the leadership camp is sponsored by the College of Ama (CofA), a Ghanaian organization that provides educational enrichment programs to underprivileged girls in Ghana. CofA, co-founded by renowned educator and WomensTrust Ghana board member Dr. Nana Apt, has sponsored the educational enrichment camp for several years. Our scholarship girls joined 20 other girls for three weeks of instruction in the core subjects. The girls also engaged in arts and crafts activities, and did some sight-seeing in Accra, Ghana’s capital city.
For many of the girls attending the camp, it was the first time they have ventured outside their own small villages or visited a college campus.
In addition to providing classroom instruction in Math, English and computer technology, the camp is also designed to build girls’ self-esteem and expose them to potential career paths.
A New School Year Ahead
This fall, 200 girls in our scholarship program will be returning to class for the 2014-2015 academic year. We're proud to report that among our scholarship recipients, 43 girls are in high school, while another 26 girls are entering their final year of junior high in Pokuase.
Currently, 20 girls in our program benefit from multi-year scholarships, in which a sponsor is matched with an individual girl for the duration of her schooling. Our sponsors receive photos of the individual girls they sponsor, along with report cards and personal letters in which the girls share details about their lives, their favorite subjects, and their dreams for their future.
"My favorite subject is science," Faima, one of our scholarship girls, wrote in a letter to her sponsor recently. Faima aspires to be a doctor one day.
"I enjoy the practical lessons which give me insights of the functions of the atmosphere, and also how the human system works," she wrote. "Through science, we have been able to find a cure for many diesases to save lives, and to make life more comfortable through innovation."
WomensTrust aims to ensure that high academic achievers like Faima complete their education, graduate from high school, and have the opportunity to fulfill their highest potential. For just $350 a year (less than $30 a month) you can sponsor a girl's education in Pokuase and help change her life forever.
We're raising funds to send 10 girls in our scholarship program to summer camp this year. And we need your support!
Sponsored by the College of Ama, a Ghanaian organization that provides education enrichment programs for underprivileged teen girls in Ghana, this year's camp will bring together 30 girls at the University of Ghana, where they will spend two weeks learning, creating and having fun.
Girls attending the camp hail mostly from rural villages in the Central and Western regions of Ghana, where schools are fewer and poorer than those in urban areas, and female teenage drop-out rates and early pregnancies are high.
Building self-confidence is one of the camp's primary objectives. The camp's faculty include volunteer instructors from the university, along with other counseling professionals, who oversee the girls' studies and activities.
In 2012, WomensTrust sent eight scholarship girls to CofA's summer camp. The girls were selected because of the extra tutoring they needed in their primary subjects in order to pass their high school entrance exams.
“CofA taught me to be proud of myself and not be intimidated by Maths,”said one of the girls after her experience at the camp.
This year, we want to sponsor 10 of our scholarship girls to attend the camp, which starts July 25. At a cost of $300 per student, we're aiming to raise a total of $3000 by July 1. Please help us send our girls to camp this summer!
WomensTrust Launches Scholarships for College-Bound Graduates
Earlier this year, several generous donors of WomensTrust provided seed funding for a new scholarship program to send our interns to college.
Regina, Mary, and Stella, the young women who intern in WomensTrust's office in Pokuase, have big dreams. They’ve already accomplished what the majority of girls in Ghana do not: they've graduated from high school.
And now, they want to accomplish even bigger things with their lives -- go to college, and pursue careers. Regina wants to be a nurse. Mary wants to become a teacher of fashion design. Stella wants to be an accountant.
But going to the university is out of the question for most girls in Ghana, who average just 11 years of school. Making it to the 8th grade is usually where a girl's education ends; just 2-3% ever finish senior high.
Even though children attend public primary and junior high schools in Ghana for free, there are still costs involved like uniforms, school supplies, and entrance exam fees that are beyond the reach of too many of Ghana's poorest citizens. And if families can only afford to keep some of their children in school, it's usually the girls that are pulled out first.
Girls like Stella, who was raised by a single mother struggling to support her family as a petty trader and had no other choice but to withdraw her daughter from school. A multi-year education scholarship from WomensTrust--costing less than $300 a year -- enabled Stella to go back and finish junior high, then stay in high school all the way through to graduation.
Regina and Mary also grew up in impoverished circumstances, but were also able to finish high school because of WomensTrust education scholarships.
"I don't know what my life would have been like had I not been able to finish school," says Stella, now 19. "I might have been a trader like my mother and always struggling."
Currently, about 25% of the more than 185 girls who've received education scholarshps from WomensTrust this year are enrolled in senior high school, and will be ready to graduate within the next one to three years. WomensTrust will be there to ensure these girls finish high school. And then be there to provide the support they need to reach for their life's dreams. Or, as Regina says, "to turn impossible upside down."
On a recent visit to our office in Pokuase, we met another WomensTrust scholarship graduate, Rose. At 19, Rose posesses the poise, confidence and expressiveness of someone who was at the top of her class, as she was. Rose dreams of becoming a lawyer, and maybe running for office one day, "because our country needs more women leaders," she says. Acing the entrance exams would be no problem for Rose. But she is from a poor family, and there is no money to support a university education. So Rose stays at home, helping with chores as she dreams of a better future.
In 2014, WomensTrust aims to build our university scholarship program so we can enable Rose and other promising young women leaders to reach for their dreams and "turn impossible upside down." Please, these young women need your support.
Pictured above: WomensTrust clients Nadiyatu (l) and Habibatu (c) with WomensTrust - Nsawam Program Director Priscilla Danso (r), on a recent Market Day in Nsawam.
MONDAY IS MARKET DAY in the town of Nsawam, a major trading hub in the mountainous Akwapim region of Ghana about an hour’s drive north of the country’s capital.
Earlier this year, WomensTrust opened a branch office in Nsawam to extend its microfinance program to the area’s burgeoning population of small traders who drive the local economy. Market Days are a weekly occurrence here, attracting thousands of people who crowd the streets and central marketplace to buy and sell goods of every kind, from foodstuffs to clothing to housewares: If you can’t find it in Nsawam, it probably hasn’t been made yet.
Nadiyatu Adama, 35, and Habibatu Mohammed, 33, are among the many small traders who travel by tro-tro from remote villages in the area to stock up on goods and supplies that they will bring back home and resell at a small mark-up to their own customers. Both women hail from the neighboring enclave of Esumia, where Nadiyatu makes a living selling porridge and Habibatu runs a small provisions shop. They wear the graceful shawls donned by married women in their community. Both of their husbands are farmers, and the women's businesses provide most of the family's income. Nadiyatu has three children, ages 3 to 15 and Habibatu has three sons and a daughter. While neither woman has ever attended school herself, they are proud that all of their school-aged children are enrolled in school.
This past June, Nadiyatu and Habibatu became clients of WomensTrust. Joining with three other women in their community to form a lending group, they then met with Priscilla Danso, WomensTrust Program Director in Nsawam, who evaluated their businesses and cash flow, and their ability to meet a repayment schedule.
Each woman then received a personal passbook and a first loan of 200 cedis (about $100). With her loan Nadiyatu was able to purchase larger quantities of corn and gari (coarsely milled flour made from cassava), the main ingredients used in porridge, a typical meal served at breakfast. Habibatu used her loan to buy pricier items like tissue paper and powdered milk to add to her inventory.
Their extra buying power resulted in an immediate increase in their profits, which enabled each woman to quickly repay her loan in full and become eligible for a second, higher loan of 400 cedis (about $200).
Loans provided by WomensTrust have enabled Nadiyatu and Habibatu to become regular weekly shoppers on Market Day and loyal customers of other women who ply their trade in Nsawam’s marketplace. Nadiyatu makes a point of buying her flour from another WomensTrust client, whom she recently met at a group orientation meeting for all of our new loan clients in Nsawam. In that way WomensTrust creates a multiplier effect with every woman we serve, not only strengthening her individual purchasing power but also contributing to the profitability of other clients’ and women’s businesses in the community.
We met many of our more than 200 clients in Nsawam on a recent Market Day:
Pictured below: (1) Women doing business with women--Wholesaler Mercy Ntim (l) does a brisk business with customers like Nadiyatu (c) and Habibatu (r), who stop by her kiosk every Monday on Nsawam’s Market Day to purchase bulk quantities of dry goods like biscuits, powdered milk and paper products.
(2) Felicia Nyarko sells second-hand clothing on one of the busy throroughfares in Nsawam. The mother of 3 children, she is able to pay for her children's school fees from her business profits. Felicia has received three small loans (ranging from $100-150) from WomensTrust to purchase jeans and other contemporary fashions to add to her inventory.
(3) Mary dreams of opening her own stand-alone shop in town. She currently operates from a small kiosk in Nsawam's central food market where she stocks rice, canned tomatoes and a variety of spices.
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