Happy Valentines! February 14th is not only Valentines Day but also marks the founding date of the Women in Action Development Project! It's Women in Action Day!
In the midst of civil conflict, Esther Kanu, our community partner, founded Women in Action to ensure that vulnerable young girls and women had the opportunity to continue their education even in one of the least developed nations in the world, Sierra Leone. Women in Action has now been in operation since 1996 making this year the community organization's 20th anniversary! In total, Esther estimates that the over the 20 year period, Women in Action has graduated over a 1000 students. The organization keeps track of graduates through an alumni association it calls the "Old Girl's Club." I had the opportunity to meet some of these alumni with amazing accomplishments such as founding their own clothing businesses and another who was running a successful internet cafe in the capital of Freetown
Women in Action has struggled over the last few years and we have been making an effort, with your assistance to help. The ebola outbreak in West Africa forced the school to close for a time resulting in a shortfall in their regular fundraising activities and leading to the death of one of the "Old Girls." Women in Action has also been facing increasing rent rates leading to Esther searching for a new location for the school.
Last week, Esther sent me a photo of the apartment that Women in Action is hoping to relocate to. It's not much to look at now, but I also saw what Esther was able to do with the current location in just a matter of years. Esther, the staff, and students turned the current building from a broken concrete shell in a colourful school with electricity. The wiring was installed by the students themselves following electrical engineering education they received through Women in Action in a partnership with a second engineering-based education project in the country. Unfortunately the increased rents make remaining in that location no longer an option.
Our goal now is to facilitate Women in Action's transition to the new location. Rent in Sierra Leone is typically paid on annual basis. For this location, Esther is looking to pay $7,000 USD for the first year. With your help, we raised just under $2,000 USD over the Holiday Season. Thank YOU! But I am really hoping we can close the gap. So, to provide incentive, and in light of Women in Action Day, I will personally be matching any donations that come in for the rest of February. Whatever you donate, I will double.
To those who have donated already, thank you so very much. Special thanks again to Mulgrave Secondary School here in Vancouver for their "Action for Esther" campaign. I also want to send a special thank you to my friend Ellie Kaiser and her friends and family for the fundraising dinner Ellie hosted to bring in over $450 USD. I met Ellie at the Las Vegas Star Trek convention this past Summer while shooting a space-themed documentary. Ellie learned of Esther's story and organized the dinner for our holiday fundraising campaign. I was so touched by your efforts, Ellie! Geeks for good causes!
Once again, Happy Valentine's! Let's show some love overseas for Esther and the Women in Action Development Project!