The fifth annual fundraiser for the Women to Women International Ghana High School Project was hosted recently by a group of local women at the fabulous home of Nancy Read in Montecito, raising $13,000 to help ensure that a group of young women in West Africa receive proper educational opportunities.
Providing scholarships to students within selected impoverished communities is the mission of the organization that benefits students of St. Anne’s Girls Senior Secondary School located in the small village of Damongo, in northern Ghana.
Generous donations raised at the event accompanies additional funds toward a commitment to nine ongoing scholarship recipients from 2012, entering their last year of schooling, and provides the ability to add 11 more as the registration process is completed in Ghana. Funding will provide uniforms, tuition, food and board for a year and needed steps toward the goal of providing 20 scholarships this year.
Without this annual sponsorship, the young women would not have the opportunity to attend school and would likely be forced to work in subsistence farming and care for younger siblings.
“I am very grateful for all that you have done for me, especially paying my fees,” recipient Josephine Beyou said in a thank you to the organization. “It has helped to reduce the burden on my mother so much. What is left now is for me to study hard, and I promise you I will do that not just for myself but for mother Ghana.”
The charity event mixed a delightful pinch of good cheer with a dash of international flair as guests helped themselves to an array of international cuisine shared by volunteers and staff members who prepared and provided the diverse ethnic dishes.
A variety of auction items were also offered for bid, including two nights at Bacara Resort & Spa, Cree Mann original signed watercolor, oil painting by Erica Shaw, lodging in Maui at The Whaler, and more.
The boarding school, founded in 2003 by the Catholic Diocese of Damongo, is one of the most desolate and poverty-stricken regions in northern Ghana. Due to the hardship and deprivation of career opportunities in the settlement, a majority of young girls are often denied access to schooling.
Girls and young women from all faiths and tribes are welcomed, which is important in a region populated by diverse sects of religious beliefs and practices. In addition, Ghanaians speak English as their official language, which makes communication easier between representatives at the school, students and board members.
Accommodations at the boarding school are vital for the students because it provides assurance that the girls will be allowed to complete their studies in a safe environment away from family distractions.
The organization spearheaded by Michel Nellis, Women to Women International president, and Silvia Morgan, Ghana High School Project CEO, and a dedicated team of volunteers who make up the board of directors and sounding board meet regularly to coordinate outreach projects to ensure students receive needed supplies.
“Due to your support, the buying of books and other learning materials has been made easy for me," student Sarah Hassan said in another thank you note to the nonprofit. "This has helped to improve upon my studies. I do not also depend solely on what my teachers give to me for my studies because I can afford some other books for my studies.”
The school’s high academic standards have attracted young women from all over northern Ghana and, as the number of pupils increases, the need for more educational scholarships provided by donors is fundamental to ensure that the young women attending school and those awaiting scholarships have opportunities for a better life that only education can provide.
Click here to view a video documentary by Dave Carrell about last years 2012 event and the Ghana High School Project. To donate or sponsor a student of the Ghana High School Project, visit a donation site or email.
— Noozhawk iSociety columnist Melissa Walker can be reached at email@example.com. Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkSociety, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Become a fan of Noozhawk on Facebook.