"The best way to fight poverty and extremism is to educate and empower women and girls.” -Nicholas Kristof, co-author of Half the Sky and op-ed columnist for the New York Times.
William Easterly, the highly considered international development economist and author of the White Man’s Burden, has visited WomensTrust twice. Here’s how he describes our success: “One approach to a successful aid project just is to immerse yourself in the local community, put local people in charge who are themselves highly motivated, be adaptive and flexible to respond to whatever the local people think about how they can help themselves.”
For those of you who wonder how your dollars make a difference, here are some examples of ongoing projects and opportunities for funding. Your contributions are the lifeblood of our work and our organization.
COMPUTER CLASSES are now held for over 100 of our scholarship girls three days per week at the one small public room in town. They are so dedicated, they arrive on time with the tables and chairs carried from a few blocks away. Students partner up in groups of 2-3 for each computer. The computers were hand carried from the U.S., new and fully loaded with all the necessary software. Funding is needed to expand this program to five days in the existing space and also to transition the program when we open the WomensTrust Resource Center. A full room will be dedicated to an internet and computer training lab.
Land for the RESOURCE CENTER was secured in the fall of 2009 after two and one-half years of blood, sweat and tears. We would not have been successful without our local team. They are connected, committed, and they didn’t give up. This project had the monetary support of a generous visionary donor. We are close to breaking ground. This incredible learning center will house, along with the computer lab and our microlending operation, the first library in the Ga West District. It will also have a healthy living skills annex. Now that the base funding is secured, we need additional contributions to equip the center and provide ongoing maintenance.
One of WomensTrust’ strengths is partnering. Last year a donor made it possible for Magbè Savanè to return to Pokuase with her HEALTHY LIVING SKILLS PROGRAM. The mission of this program is to educate women and girls on healthy life styles and family planning, and to do it in a way that brings the best in interactive learning through group counseling. Now that Magbè has developed this curriculum, we are looking for donors who will support her in continuing her work until she heads to medical school in the fall of 2011. We have a long relationship with Magbè. She came to the U.S. seeking political asylum from Ivory Coast and will be graduating from Colby-Sawyer College this year. She previously attended Sant Bani, a private high school in Sanbornton, New Hampshire.
Another bright young determined woman, from our own SCHOLARSHIP AND AFTER SCHOOL ENRICHMENT PROGRAM in Pokuase, will be entering Sant Bani this fall with full tuition for two years. Margaret Saanuo is incredibly excited and will be the first local girl from Pokuase to travel to the U.S. to finish high school. Although her tuition and board are fully funded by Sant Bani, we have taken on the responsibility of paying for her travel and giving her a stipend for books, clothes and health insurance. We are proud of our ability to be the bridge in helping girls like Margaret to realize their full potential. Margaret’s personal goal after completing her education, is to bring her new-found skills back to the Pokuase community. This meets our mission of educating girls in Ghana, and we need your support.
Because microlending is our base, one of our primary goals is to have a LOAN TRACKING SYSTEM that fits the capability of our local staff. We have made great strides in simplifying the management information system to track outstanding loans and repayment, and last year the team in Pokuase achieved a consistent repayment rate of over 90 percent. Along the way we have worked collaboratively with interns from Dartmouth, like student James Wang. James will be returning to Pokuase this summer to finish programming the system, which is close to a final design that will be shareable with other communities in Ghana as they follow in our footsteps. We are looking for funding to finalize the software and training manual.
To Our Donors:
Less than 10 percent of individual and family foundation giving goes outside the U.S. Many of you have been part of our success by sending contributions. Others have stayed on the sidelines.
Inspired giving is “the creative expression of that part of yourself that cares about and believes in the potential for change,” according to Tracy Gary in her book, Inspired Philanthropy. Emerging is a new kind of philanthropy that goes beyond charity. Rather than reactive, it looks ahead to the root causes of poverty and proactively puts the philanthropic dollar toward long-term solutions. It invests in people on the ground who drive their own way forward. Rather than create a donor-dependent social service, it strategically works to create social change with the end result of empowered, independent communities.
That’s the camp WomensTrust is in – with seven years of focused investing in Ghana, we are part of “social change” and have become a model that could cooperatively expand throughout the country.
Philanthropy is as valid when you give $10 as when you give $10,000. A growing number of individuals and private family foundations are deciding to seriously venture into the international arena and, with a WomensTrust approach, they are able to do it personally.
It is time to consider international as part of your giving strategy. So many of us continue to mentally live in a “gated” country. Our economic crisis is causing unbelievable strain in Africa where people are realizing they are the only ones who will make change happen on the ground. They need the tools. And we need their spirit and goodwill.
Your contributions fund the progress we have made over the last seven years. Every increment of money goes into making WomensTrust a success. We are a tight ship. Please be generous and, if you can, commit for more than one year.
Thank you! We are going somewhere with this.
The WomensTrust Staff and Board
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