Women in Action Development Project

A Mother Figure to Many Celebrates a New Graduating Class

You accomplished this. At the end of this past April, you helped an entire new class of students graduate from the Women in Action Development Project in Sierra Leone. Because of your donations over the past year, another 50 young women have a better education and a much better chance to find employment in one of the most challenging places in the world to live. Look at these pictures. These graduates are up there because of your support. Once again, thank you so very much. Together, and with Esther’s leadership, we helped put another class through school.

I have THREE other awesome updates coming soon but will leave these with you for now - a class of graduating students and the woman whom many of them look up to like a mother.

As always, your continued support keeps Women in Action open. Please consider donating as we begin aiming for the 2019/2020 school season.


Donate Toward the 2019/2020 School Season
2019 Graduating class of the Women in Action Development Project

2019 Graduating class of the Women in Action Development Project

Esther Speaks at the Graduation Ceremony

Esther Speaks at the Graduation Ceremony

Audience in Attendance at the Women in Action Graduation Ceremony

Audience in Attendance at the Women in Action Graduation Ceremony

Current Students Attending the Women in Action Graduation Ceremony

Current Students Attending the Women in Action Graduation Ceremony

A Letter from Esther Herself...

Hello Echoers,

Today, rather than hearing from me, I've asked Esther to write all of you, our donors and supporters, personally about Women in Action and meeting our rent target. We were at 4000USD still to go. This past week, with your support, I was able to send 2400CDN which translated to 1725USD. That means we only have another 2275 dollars to go! 

Below is Esther's letter to you about the importance of Women in Action, what your support means, and Esther's vision for the future in her own words. The letter is a scanned image. Below the image is the raw text if you are having trouble seeing the text in the image itself. Also, today, June 14th is Esther's Birthday! For her birthday, let's hit that funding goal!



We started (The Women in Action Development Project) in Freetown Western Area District just after the civil conflict in Sierra Leone. The project was and still aims at empowering children, girls and young women through skills training and capacity building for self-employment and economic reliance to help reduce the high dependency rate. Women conscious of their high illiteracy rates makes them very vulnerable in communities especially in urban and peri-urban communities, settlements and Districts. Children, girls and young women were and are still been raped, molested, and beaten by their male counterparts with little or no effective response as a result of limited or no knowledge on rights issues, high illiteracy rate, and therefore, remains extremely vulnerable and can catch to whatever is provided to them. Women in Action saw the urgent need and is trying to bridge the gaps.

At the school, the fund/support help to register and engage adolescent girls and young women into formal and informal education and life skills training or economic development and also position them to speak out on their own right issues which is still a challenge due to limited or no formal education which male counterparts take advantage. The school provides for both urban and rural children, girls and young women the space and enabling environment where they become empowered through formal and informal education and acquire meaningful life skill that enhances rapid economic development. Informatively, the school is improving because it has educated girls and young women who are now acquiring higher education in other teaching and learning institutions. The school is also improving because it has trained girls and young women who are now engaged in their own works and businesses for economic development. The school is recognized as it serves as a hope for all hopeless children and women in Sierra Leone.

The fund/support has shined a light on the school and its activities. It has also sent strong signal to women that this is a place to be if you want a bright future. It has given hope to hopeless women and has also informed the Government and public about the work of the Women in Action Development Project. This support has opened new windows for expansion to new areas. Registration is currently ongoing with the high aim of opening a “Pre-School” at Waterloo (rural community) in September to extend program services to rural children and girls where the provision is the most needed now. The agricultural activities are ongoing and the program wishes to start an animal husbandry at the Waterloo axis.

At this end, we humbly request for our balance (US 4000) to help complete the rent and implement our planned tasks and activities in 2018

We appreciate your support over the years which has created all the impact highlighted in this letter

I am yours


Esther Kanu – National Coordinator

Matt Speaks at "One World, One Heart" Conference

Hello Echoers, 

Last month, I had the opportunity to speak at the "One World, One Heart" youth convention at Vancouver College. The organizers saw my presentation at this past November's Model United Nations and invited me to speak at their event as well. 

One World, One Heart promotes values of global citizenship to youth. As some of you know, I am greatly inspired by space exploration and in 2014 I gave a TEDx talk at the University of Toronto about how space lends a perspective of a singular world with shared struggles. One World, One Heart was interested in hearing more about this concept. In fact, their whole theme became "One Small Step"


I had the opportunity to share Esther's story with a whole lecture hall of incredible and passionate young people looking to change the world, one step at a time. I began with how my own love of space was fostered by a tiny telescope with my grandfather in Northern Ontario. Though I was never able to travel to space, I decided that if I couldn't explore up then I would explore out and that is how I met Esther. 


Big thanks to the One World, One Heart team and to Vancouver College for having me!

Vancouver College also contributed a generous donation to Esther's Echo. This is really helpful right now because we are still short on Esther's 2017 rent. Her land lord is putting pressure on them. With our last batch of donations from International Women's Day, and the recent donation from Vancouver College, we can take a big chunk out of that, but we could use every penny to help see them through. Any support you could offer would be a HUGE boost right now in taking pressure off Esther, the staff, and students. 100% of your donation goes directly to Esther. Our long-term goal is to finally build Esther her own building, and, exciting news, the groundwork for this has already started! More on that in the next post.

Thank you all, again, for your continued support. Because of you, Women in Action, Esther's school, can keep their doors open bringing opportunities to women and children in one of the most difficult places in the world to live. 



Donate Today!

Justice High and Buying Farmland

Hello Echoers!

Some exciting things in the works since my last post for International Women's Day. I was invited to speak at Capilano University's Justice High youth symposium. Esther's Echo has had a great relationship with Capilano U for 7 years now. In fact, if it weren't for Capilano's Global Stewarship Program championed by Cam Sylvester, we likely wouldn't exist. Global Stewardship sponsored Esther's journey to Canada in 2012 and inspired our initial founding as an organization that same year. In fact, we shot a mini-doc about our partnership with Capilano that year which you can watch below.

 The Global Stewardship Program - or Global Stew as it's known by the students (Stews) - enrolls 35 students per year who learn what it takes to become a global citizen. Courses range from international issues and management training with seminars delivered by leaders in the non-profit and social enterprise sectors. As part of their education, the Stews are challenged to organize their own symposiums for younger secondary school students. That's what Justice High is all about. The symposium invites high school students to explore issues addressed by the United Nation Millennium Development Goals. Last month I was invited to speak about Esther's Echo and our ongoing commitment to support Esther's school, The Women in Action Development Project, as well as how relatively small initiatives like ours can foster big changes around the world.  

Matt Speaking about Esther's Echo at Justice High

Matt Speaking about Esther's Echo at Justice High

One of the big changes we're hoping to accomplish by the start of May is to secure a plot of farmland for Esther. Thanks to donations that came in during International Women's Day, an honorarium from Capilano U for the Justice High presentation, and January's Action for Esther hosted by Mulgrave Secondary, we are SO CLOSE. Esther needs about 1500US more to purchase the farmland. This land will be a game changer for Women in Action as they will be able to sell produce as a form of income to help sustain the project. With all the donations, we are sitting at around 1400CDN which is just over 1000US. So we only need another 500US. I think we can do it! This is the one of the most important donations we've sent to Esther as we are helping to provide a whole new source of income for Women in Action. 

Thank you all so much again for your support. International Day for Women was our largest single fundraising day to date! This comes following our most successful Holiday Season ever! Huge thanks as well to Capilano University, the Global Stews, and Cam Sylvester. All of your support is vital to the continuation of women's education in one of the most challenging places of the world to live. Remember 100% of all your donation goes abroad. Now let's keep up the amazing effort and get Esther that farmland! 

Help Buy that Farmland!

On Thanksgiving Help Women in Action Move into Their New Home

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. 

he Old Building is Torn Down

he Old Building is Torn Down

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!


Students in a "protest" outside the new building

Students in a "protest" outside the new building

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.

Help Women in Action move into their new home