Valentine's day is a special day for us all at Esther's Echo. February 14th also marks the founding of the Women in Action Development Project in Freetown, Sierra Leone. Founded by Esther Kanu, our community partner in Sierra Leone and our organization's namesake, Women in Action is celebrating its 21st anniversary this year.
I am incredibly proud to be working with Esther. I think of the incredible adversity that she has overcome not only to found Women in Action but also to keep it operational. Women in Action was founded in 1994 in the midst of political instability and a brewing civil conflict. For the next ten years, despite the outbreak of war and operating in what the UN considered the most underdeveloped nation in the world, Esther kept her project running; a place of hope for young vulnerable girls and women in the country.
It is only recently that Women in Action has talked about closing its doors. Struggles with a new landlord complicated by the outbreak of Ebola in the region have threatened the existence of Esther's project. As of this month, the landlord, who has returned to the country now that Ebola is under control, is threatening to force Esther out. We are working to ensure that won't happen. But it appears the landlord is adamant on selling Esther's building at a price that we simply cannot raise in the short time requested. Should the landlord choose to sell, we will be assisting Esther in securing a new location for Women in Action or begin to fundraise for a building of her own. From our last rent campaign fundraiser, Esther should be secure in her current location until April.
I think about how much Esther could achieve as a business person in Canada, connected to the grants and resources our country offers to entrepreneurs. I wonder how far she would go in a place where political stability is taken for granted or where one does not have to worry about accessing social services through bribes. Esther has had the opportunity to leave her country on several occasions, but she chooses to remain in Sierra Leone for the students of her school. Her goal is to franchise Women in Action across Africa. And I think she can do it. I have rarely seen anybody so dedicated to anything.
For Valentine's day, please consider supporting Esther and her school. Any funds raised will be used to keep Women in Action operating either in their current location or used to secure a new location. We will keep all of you posted on the outcome with the landlord. Despite any crisis thrown her way, Esther speaks not of the challenges of the present, but hope in the future. It is her hope that inspires us to continue telling a different story of Africa.
-Founder / CEO