from October 2009 Newsletter (Volume 4, Issue 2)
I’ve just returned from Africa, invigorated as always by the images and experiences that make it clear to me that we’re on the right path and supporting really good work. As the seasons change here at home we are coming up on our 3 year birthday, a cause for reflection on successes, strengthening of collaborations, and future planning… and of course a celebration! Over these three years we have touched the lives of more than 12,000 children, and more than 13 schools with our programs, including scholarships for more than 90 students. And we did it all for less than 450,000USD with 94% of funds raised going to programs.
On my recent trip, joined by board members and our new US Program Director, Rebecca Raymond, we celebrated Mwalimu Anna Academy opening the doors to 6 more classrooms with top quality learning materials and even 1 computer. We made our way through the construction sites for the dining room at Jeremy Academy Primary School, and the teacher’s houses at Enkiteng Lepa Primary, which will attract top teaching talent to a hardship rural community. Primary school student Leya sought us out to show us her high grades. Senior level students conducted physics experiments with new equipment in preparation for Fall exams for which they will now be better prepared. We had several cups of tea with proud community leaders who congratulated us in our collaborative approach in which their opinions are respected and valued and projects are managed by them, not us.
We also gathered with our Kenyan and Tanzanian program leaders and advisors for an honest evaluation of our existing programs, determining where our programs have best practices and where we have gaps. We spent three days together envisioning what the future looks like and planning how to get there with existing and new programs, future expansion to new regions, and collaborative partnerships with other non-profit organizations.
As we celebrate our tremendous progress, we also know there is still much to do to address the severe lack of even the basics (desks, water, food and teaching aids) in so many of the schools we visited. But we are not discouraged, because we have confidence in our replicable model and our in-country team who are passionate in getting the greatest impact in the communities where we partner.
Today’s success and our futures promise is a testament to what is possible when you combine generous donors, global partnerships, energetic volunteers and a committed leadership team. Our collective strengths will turn distant dreams into today’s realities.
Asante Sana (Great thanks to you), Erna Grasz CEO, President
Founder, CEO, Board President