WE GOT THE LAND! WE OFFICIALLY HAVE IT IN OUR NAMES!!!
But let me back up and explain the whole story. I first wrote the story of the Education Center here. Around July 2012 we had been donated a beautiful building on a school campus to use as the computer center and library. We estimated it would cost about $10,000 to do some renovations, put in the computers, install internet, and make the building kid-friendly. Through talking with the school a little more we encountered a few problems with the donated building:
1. The building is on school land. In Ghana, any building on school land, belongs to the school, meaning they have control of everything inside the building. This means we would just be able to go and equip the center and must had it over to the school when it’s finished. We would not be running the center.
2. The Center would only be open when school was in session. It would close at 3pm and would not be open during school vacation.
3. The Center could not be opened up to the community.
4. The school would be responsible for the maintenance and upkeep, including electricity and internet bills.
We thought about all the above items and decided that we should stray away from using the donated building. We wanted to run the center and have it open after school and during vacation time. We also didn’t want to burden the school with more expenses, in which they had to choose between paying teachers, and keeping the center open. And most importantly, we wanted it to be open and free to the community as well.
We started to explore the idea of finding a plot of land and building our own center from the ground up. After finding out how expensive private land was in Atonsu, we contacted the Sub Metro Office who is in charge of giving land to projects and developments. The Sub Metro Office went around to all their available plots and tried to find one that was within walking distance of many schools. It was very important that the land was close to the schools because the schools will send their students to us for ICT (computer) classes and we didn’t want them crossing any busy roads or walking for more than a few minutes.
After searching high and low for a plot they found one that was surrounded by 3 primary and junior high schools and within walking distance of 10+ more. This plot also happened to be right next to the building we were originally donated!
Attached to our application for this plot of land we needed to come up with a design for the building. I sent my ideas to an architect located right next to our office in Ghana and he designed an incredibly beautiful building that I fell in love with from the start.
We sent our application to the Sub Metro Office and hoped that they were still interested in giving us the land for the project and were still as excited as they were when we first presented the idea.
A week before I left for Ghana I got an email that the Sub Metro Office approved our application and was in the process of completing all the official paperwork! We were one meeting away from the land officially being ours!
The minute I arrived in Atonsu I headed to the land office, met the director, and scheduled a meeting with the head of the Ghana Education Service, headmasters/headmistresses of the 3 surrounding schools, and other stakeholders of the land. The meeting was long and a lot of logistical questions were raised and discussed, but the meeting ended with, “We think the Education Center is very, very needed in this community. We give you our blessing to begin your project under our monitoring. Congratulations!”
A few more small details needed to be ironed out, but WE HAVE LAND TO BUILD THE CENTER NOW!
So whats the next step? I just sent the final designs off to the contractor who will “quantify” everything, basically he will tell us how many bags of cement to lay the foundation, how many bricks, all the way down the the gallons of paint we will need. From there we can estimate how much it will be to build the center from start to finish. I was told a very, very rough estimate of $20,000 US Dollars to build the Center. $20,000 will build the physical structure but will not include installing electricity and internet, computers, air conditioning, furniture, lighting, security, ect.
In total I need to raise $50,000 to build, equip, and open the Center.
one year of private college in the US
a whole lot of Ben and Jerrys ice cream cones
a few very nice cars
a trip around the world
a large yacht
5,000 movie tickets
a down payment on a house
$50,000 is A LOT of money. I am well aware how much money it is. But let me tell you that $50,000 can flip this community upside down. The Education Center will bring about uncountable opportunity and resources for this incredible community. The community of Atonsu and surroundings has been on a downhill slope for a while. Schools are getting worse because teachers pay is being cut, and class sizes are growing astronomically. Students don’t seem as motivated to go to school. Resources for the schools such as text books, supplies, desks, and chalkboards aren’t getting replenished, and most students sit in a classroom all day scribbling onto extra scraps of paper. The overall moral of Atonsu is slipping downwards right before our eyes.
And we need to do something about it…this is where the Education Center comes in. The Center will bring opportunity and resources and hope and downright happiness to the children and community. I wish I could put into words what the Center will bring to the community, but right now I just can’t describe it, but trust me, it is SO needed and wanted.
I recently went around to a bunch of the schools in the Education Center’s area and before talking about the Center, asked the students openly and honestly what they thought was needed in their school and community. All the schools I visited responded with the same answers “We want a computer center, library, playground, sitting area or garden, and toilet facilities. We want a place we can come during holiday vacation and after school to play and learn”. The Center is exactly on target with what the students want, and most of all, need.
I’m jumping into this project feet first and trusting my instincts. I’m trusting that other passionate people will come into my life and want to help on this project. I’m trusting that this community will rally more than they already have, around this project to lift it up and bring it to life.
But I need your help now more than ever. I really really need you. Together we can build this Center and lift the community from the downward spiral. Together we can change thousands of lives.
Here is how you can help:
1. Hold a fundraiser!
It isn’t as hard as it sounds! This can be a spaghetti dinner, pizza party, donation jars at businesses, change drive at school, dance party, birthday party, and anything else you can think of. Donate your birthday to the Education Center and ask people to donate instead of getting you gifts! Get as many people as you know involved and excited about changing lives in Ghana and people will want to get involved and raise money.
2. Sell t-shirts!
New t shirts are currently being designed and will be available very soon. I can send you as many t shirts as you can sell. A lot of people want to donate, but want “something in return”, which is why t shirts are great. People want to know their purchase is going towards a charity or cause, while also getting a cute t shirt.
3. Invite me to speak!
Do you want to hold a fundraiser, dinner, wine party, or get a group of family/friends/colleagues together and have me come speak about the Education Center and my work in Ghana? There is nothing I love more than public speaking and spreading the message about the amazing community and non profit in Ghana. I live in Chicago and am available to travel anywhere in the midwest and could fly to other places as well.
4. Be creative!
You all have so many amazing and creative ideas on how to raise money and I would love to hear them! How can you use your talents and passion to change lives of children in Ghana?
If you (individual or small group) raise $20,000 or more I will take you (one person) on a 2 week trip to Ghana for the opening of the center in the summer of 2013. (I’m serious). You will meet and get to know the children who will attend the center, live with a Ghanaian host family, volunteer with Light for Children, and be emerged into every aspect of Ghanaian life. It will be an amazing experience and will open your eyes and change your life in many ways. Who’s in??
If you are interested in getting involved in any way please email me at email@example.com and we can talk and work everything out. Please don’t be shy! I LOVE receiving emails and talking to passionate people who want to get involved! I would love to hear your fundraiser ideas and how we can work together to build the Center brick by brick.
Want to donate right now? We are about $2,000 from our $6,000 goal to build the foundation of the Center. You can donate through our Global Giving fundraising page here. All donations are tax deductible.