Valentine's Day

Valentine's Day is 'Women in Action Day' and We're OPEN!

Echoers!

Today is an important anniversary! Esther's school, the Women in Action Development Project, was founded on February 14th 1996. And today, because of your support, they are able to celebrate their 23rd birthday! 

We did it! YOU did it! 

Over the last few days, the remaining donations we needed to clear that rent debt arrived and Women in Action will be able to complete another school season. I cannot thank you all enough. So many of you came through for us. Thank you, thank you. Gratitude, and appreciation are also coming from Esther and the staff and students of Women in Action as well. One of the recent videos that Esther sent me is a thank you to Esther's Echo which also goes out to all of you. I have linked the video below. ALSO, today Esther (centre red in the pics below) sent me photos from their anniversary celebration complete with heart shaped cakes for Valentine's Day. See all of that!? You made that happen! 

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What's next?

Because of the challenges with this current landlord, Women in Action will likely be moving come the Summer. I was anticipating this would be the case. But because of the recent fundraising we don't have to move locations in the midst of the school season. My ultimate goal for Esther's Echo was always building Esther her own school. We will be continuing to put funds aside for this project as well as for potential rent funding should we need to continue renting come the Fall. It's a big project, about 30K, but one of the largest steps, owning a plot of land, we've already accomplished. 

Thank you all again for your support. If you're able to give today in celebration of Women in Action's anniversary, I've included a Valentine's themed donation button below!

Wishing you all a day full of love!

Matthew

Esther Kanu sends a thank you from the staff and students of the Women in Action Development Program to Esther's Echo Esther's Echo is a non-profit organization dedicated to supporting the Women in Action Development Project, a vocational training centre for young women and girls in Sierra Leone.

Celebrate Women in Action Day as our Valentine!

Dear Echoers,

Today in 1996, Esther Kanu founded the Women in Action Development Project. So while we think of it as Valentine's Day, the 14th of February is also Women in Action Day! 

I spoke to Esther today congratulating her on another year at Women in Action. She said that the school was going to be hosting a service on Friday to celebrate and to "thank the organization." I'm always humbled by Esther when she sends thanks and gratitude our way because - well - she really deserves the credit. Esther established Women in Action in the midst of a civil war, recruited the teachers and the students, has seen the school through calamities like natural disasters and outbreaks of disease, and accomplished all she has in one of the most difficult places in the world to live. And you. You have all been supportive by donating your hard earned funds, keeping in contact with me, and have remained up-to-date on the latest news abroad. So I am humbled because she is the champion of her own cause, and you all support her. So really, it's my gratitude that should be going to her and all of you. 

As a Valentine's treat, here are some pictures. The first picture, taken recently, is of a class of students and their community leaders in a rural community called Waterloo outside of Freetown. Women an Action has started to work in some of these more rural communities where access to education is limited compared to the city. The next picture is from Valentine's day and Women in Action Day celebrations from last year. When the school runs its celebration this Friday, I will send along new pictures from this year.

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Women in Action still needs to cover their 2017 rent and they are facing more pressure from their landlord. So, let's get in that last few thousand dollars! I know we can do it. To those of you who have already donated please know that, once again, you have my sincere gratitude. 

I wish you all a lovely Valentine's Day! Please make us yours!

-Matthew

Make Us Your Valentine!

Happy Valentine's and Women in Action Day!

Hello Echoers!

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. 

-Matthew Cimone

-Founder / CEO

Donate to the Women in Action Development Project