It’s International Women’s Day!
The Women in Action Development Project has over 200 enrolled students with nearly 50 of them graduating each year. That is IF the school year isn’t interrupted which, in Sierra Leone, it often can be. Women in Action has seen its share of challenges from disease outbreak, flooding, political turmoil, and closure due to struggles with rent payments. We can assist with some of the unforeseen calamities and natural disasters, but where we have the most control is over rent.
When I first came to Sierra Leone, in 2005, Esther was paying $1000US a year in rent for the Women in Action development Project. Over the years, with economic challenges, rising housing rates in the country, and with the loss of a former landlord who was sympathetic to the challenges of the school, rent is now about $7000US a year. But, remember, that this is for an eight-story building which houses a school and a daycare centre. We came up short for rent in 2017. But not by much! We only have to raise about another 1500 dollars. I think we can do it!
In the past I've been asked, “Why are you fundraising for rent? That’s not as exciting as building schools.” But the truth is that the cost of infrastructure isn't necessarily is the most important - it’s the upkeep. Many organizations out there build school buildings, but those structures may not remain as school buildings. Many are simply left empty or re-purposed because rather than a shortage of willing teachers, or building spaces, there is a shortage of operating costs to maintain schools. Women in Action’s rent is one of their largest expenses and by helping them we are offsetting this cost so that income generated by the school can then be used to reinvest and grow.
Education is one of the most effective ways of providing new opportunities for women in one of the most difficult places in the world to live. Thankfully we also have Esther at the helm for whom I couldn’t be more grateful. The landlord for their building is looking for the rest of that rent, so let’s make it happen!
Also, as promised, photos from this past February 14th Women in Action day marking the anniversary of the school: