Monday, February 3, 2014

Project Update

You never can tell who is going to be touched by this project or inspired to help. Last week, one of my dear friends from college, Rhonda Childs Amoroso, offered to start collecting donations from the her community. Then yesterday, I got a call from my neighbor Lynda's friend Marge. I ran into Marge at a dinner party last weekend where we talked about my project. She was so moved by the needs of the children in Ghana that she took the initiative to call contacts she had at her local elementary school and they agreed to donate teaching materials. So, I decided to do this blog entry to summarize the progress of the project so far so that anyone Rhonda or Marge directs this way can easily learn about the project.

Shipment of Books and School Supplies Delivered

Last week Billa, (director of Future Leaders in Ghana) posted pictures of the children with the donations that I sent late last year. It was difficult to find a way to get them there. I literally struck up a conversation with anyone I saw who I thought might be from Africa to listen for a Ghanaian accent and asked them if they knew of a way to send boxes of books to Ghana.  It is funny but I am normally shy when it comes talking to strangers but when it comes to helping my kids I am very determined. Now, I have an avenue to ship large boxes of donations to Ghana twice a year in a shipping container with local Ghanaians.  
It was so wonderful to see the kids with the books. The UCC is getting better all the time and more people around the world are stepping up to help this wonderful cause. Thank you Waples Mill Elementary, Manassas City Public Schools and Eagle Scout Paul Burke for your generous donations.

Someone asked what the classrooms look like so I included this picture. 

Website and Online Store is Up and Working

I have been working hard and learning a lot while customizing and updating my online store, blog and web sites. I have chosen to use this stripe of Kente fabric to unify everything. The prints and paintings are selling well, with the mother child scenes being the most popular.   I have started doing custom orders. So, if you see a painting or subject that you like but would like it in a different size or color scheme, feel free to ask. 

Best Behaved Child Awards Given Out Weekly

When I first brought suitcases full of donations we realized that even though I had  brought a lot, there still would not be enough for every child to have something new. So, Billa thought it would be good incentive to let the best behaved children from each class choose something from the donation pile at the end of the week. The pile included used shoes, clothes, back packs and school supplies. Imagine telling our kids that if they were the best behaved child in their class they could have a used pair of shoes or a notebook with some other child's name blacked out. The poverty these children are living in is hard to fathom. They are thrilled to have something new, anything. They are not required to go to school. Many of their parents don't care whether or not they go, so anything that can be done to reward them for taking the initiate to learn and improve their situation in life is helpful.

The New Computer Lab is Helping the kids Learn Faster

I was able to send another lap top computer in the container and several more Leapsters. Billa says that the Leapsters have been very helpful when the kids have one on one sessions with volunteers. I remember the first time I was in Ghana. I sat with a little boy using a chalk tablet. What an improvement. 
But, this is a big help for kids to learn English and Reading independently since there are so few teachers for so many kids. 

This is a picture of the computer lab in an old shipping container.

The Land Fund is Growing

My number one goal has been to raise funds for Billa to buy the land for his own center and not have to pay rent anymore. The fund is growing but slower than I would like. So, this weekend when we had our annual Super Bowl party I decided to set up a little display about the project on my dining room table.
I am happy to say that all of the football pool winners chose to donate their winnings to the land fund. Thanks everyone! I also hung the paintings of Africa all over my house so my friends could see them. I have so many framed and ready to exhibit. I know it is time to get out of my comfort zone (painting in my studio) and get out there and start marketing for an exhibition or fundraiser. This is hard for me because it goes against my basic personality. Wish me luck and guts.