Happy Thanksgiving Echoers!
We've recently received some good news that I wanted to share with all of you.
When I last wrote, we were looking for funding to help Esther and The Women in Action Development Project move into a new building to continue running their school. The building that the the school had been in since 1994 was being sold and subsequently torn down.
With little warning, the landlord moved on the sale and evicted Esther and the Girls of the Women in Action Development Program. Esther called me very upset. I haven't heard her sound that defeated before. Here is a woman who operated her own school for vulnerable women and girls in the middle of a civil war. Hearing her in tears absolutely broke my heart. She also sent me images of the old building being demolished.
We started thinking of ways that we could get her into a new space as soon as possible. We knew this was an eventuality, but the timeline was much shorter than we had anticipated. With the funds you donated, Esther was able to secure one floor of the eight story building that we showed in the last updates and reopened albeit in a limited capacity. Esther was proud of her efforts. She said that in addition to offering the landlord all that you had contributed, her and her students donned their uniforms and stood outside the building during school days to encourage the new landlord to give them at least one floor. Seems they were persuasive!
Esther is continuing to operate on the single floor of the new building. She doesn't have as much space as they had before, but because of your help, and Esther's tenacity, you have kept a school in Sierra Leone open despite all the challenges we've had these past years from the Ebola scare, to threats of eviction, to the demolition of the previous building. I cannot thank you all enough. You are a small community of donors. Each of you is a vital part of ensuring that Esther's work continues.
Esther wants to move into the rest of the new building that she's in. The building is eight stories. She plans to use some for the school and to sublet the others as an income generating project to sustain and grow Women in Action.. Secondly, Esther has begun evening classes for adults. As a new initiative, Esther has been speaking to me more about the need to provide education to entire families in the community surrounding Women in Action.
How we can best serve Esther right now is to raise the outstanding rent on the new building so that the landlord will release the other floors. Of the $7000US Esther needed, we're down to only $2000 left to go. I know we can easily make that happen. All of your donation goes abroad. The only overhead expenses covered by the Esther's Echo account that your donations go into is the $30CDN fee for the wire transfer abroad to the Women in Action account which we do about 3 to 4 times a year. Any of our other costs, such as the website's fees, we cover out of pocket. Also, a big shout out to the Teaching Support Staff Union at Simon Fraser University for their recent contributions and for asking us to come in and speak to their solidarity and social justice committee.
On Thanksgiving, please stop to consider Esther and her students who work tirelessly in one of the most difficult places in the world to strengthen their community.