In May of 2012, I traveled to Africa to visit my daughter, Alexandra, who was studying abroad at the University of Ghana. I was anxious to see her life and to visit Future Leaders Underprivileged Children's Center where she volunteered weekly.
Alexandra in her neighborhood in Accra, Ghana.
By following Alexandra's blog Taking my Education to Africa I fell in love with the beautiful smiling faces of the children at the center. I wanted to help these children in any way could. The center's mission is to end the cycle of poverty by educating children living in the worst of it. These children's families live below the International poverty level of $1 a day and they can not even afford the minimal fees needed to could attend public schools. At the Underprivileged Children's Center, UCC the kids are taught basic math, reading and writing until funds can be raised for them to continue on to public school.
Some of the beautiful children at Future Leaders.
While in Ghana, Alexandra and I visited Future Leaders and I met with Billa Mamud, it's founder and director. We discussed his needs and how I could help. With his rent steadily increasing, he wanted to buy the land and to build a permanent center where he could provide free quality education, meals, and healthcare to needy children and housing for orphans. I decided to help Billa raise this money. But how could do that? I was just an artist, teaching and painting in Northern Virginia just outside Washington, DC.
Billa and I discuss the project in a classroom.
I decided to use my artistic skills and connections in my community and beyond to help. I would paint the beautiful people and scenes that inspired me in Africa and sell these paintings to raise the money to buy the land for Future Leaders UCC. My project has just begun but has already given me a great sense of purpose and joy. I am doing what I love and using it to help others. It doesn't get any better than that.
During recess my daughter and I sat under a shady tree to have a cool drink. Within seconds our arms and laps were full of loving children just wanting to be near us. I had never met such an affectionate group of kids before.
One of my paintings inspired by a mother and child I saw at the market. The original is sold but I have signed prints available for $50. Proceeds from the sale go to the UCC land purchase fund.