Category Archives: The Education Center

2014 in Review

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[January 7, 2014]
[Said goodbye to parents, brothers, family, and friends to pack suitcases and move across the ocean on a one way ticket]

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[January 12, 2014]
[Moved into my four bedroom house and having no idea who or what would fill it]

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[January 28, 2014]
[Turned 21 in a village and celebrated with hundreds of new little friends]

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[American friends visited all throughout the year]

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[February 24, 2014]
[Met my future daughter Ellie & her twin brother for the first time (I had NO idea what was in store for us!)]

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[March 6, 2014]
[Reunited with my Little Boy in Blue, my first inspiration to found The Treasured Ones]

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[March 8, 2014]
[We met through Instagram. She committed to be in Ghana for 9 months with an eye care NGO. Jamen moved to Ghana in October. I in January. We met for the first time in Accra. We became best friends & Ghana sisters. And the rest is history]

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[March 14, 2014]
[Having my Atonsu kiddos for a sleepover]

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[April 2014]
[One of our many weekend slumber parties filled with ice cream, Jesus, & soul talks]

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[April 30, 2014]
[Met Ronald for the first time after God directed me to him. 24 hours later his $2,000 USD shunt surgery was funded in full. He received surgery a few months later]

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[May 4, 2014]
[My son, Ellie’s twin brother was suddenly & unexpectedly called Home to be with Jesus while I was in the process of getting custody of him]

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[June 20, 2014]
[Officially announced that I was founding The Treasured Ones]

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[June 25, 2014]
[Served as a Short Term Missionary at Joni and Friends International Family Retreat and met some of the sweetest friends & children]

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[July 12, 2014]
[Flew to America for a one month visit and was surprised big time in California]

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[July 13th, 2014]
[My soul sisters and best friends threw Ellie and I a baby shower in California]

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[August 7th, 2014]
[Portia & Kwabena moved in and became the first beneficiaries of The Treasured Ones Foster/Rehab Home]

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[August 26th, 2014]
[Ellie Grace, my beloved daughter, came home forever]

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[September 3, 2014]
[We stood before a judge and she granted me legal guardianship of Ellie]
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[September 2014]
[KCH Inclusive Primary School officially welcomed 30 children with special needs into the school, adding to over 150 students in total]

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[September 22, 2014]
[We welcomed Shadrach to The Treasured Ones Foster Home]

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[October 9th, 2014]
[Light for Children Education Center officially opened]

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[October 11th, 2014]
[Partnered with Joni and Friends Wheels for the World to give custom pediatric wheelchairs to 11 children]

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[October 18th, 2014]
[Ellie continues to surprise all doctors by making huge strides in her development]

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[December 2014]
[We open the Special Needs Resource Center at KCH Inclusive School complete with art room, physical therapy room, computer lab and store]

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[December 24th, 2014]
[Ellie’s first Christmas]

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[December 25th, 2014]
[Ellie home for 4 months & celebrating our first holidays as a family of 2]

Education Center GRAND OPENING!

Today, October 9th, 2014, we officially commissioned and opened The Education Center. We held a huge opening party at the Center with many guests that included government officials, chiefs, departmen I am at a loss for words to what this day means to me, what it means to all of us involved in this project. All I can say is thank you. Thank you to every donor, contributor, partner, fundraiser, and cheerleader. We could not have gotten here without you. I will post more thoughts on the completing and opening of the Center when I get the words out. But for right now, it is my biggest honor to introduce you to the Light for Children Educational Center in Atonsu, Kumasi, Ghana.

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[Library]

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[Library]

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[Library]

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[World renown musician Koo Nimo]

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[Cultural group from local junior high school performing]

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[All the school children were invited to the opening ceremony…as well as lots of media!]

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Education Center Update [June 2nd, 2014]

I woke up this morning and couldn’t remember the last time that I posted an Education Center update here on my blog. I logged in and went to my “drafts” in my blog dashboard and realized that I forgot to post a blog about the Education Center that I had written almost two months ago. Whoops. Sorry friends. And since all the information in that blog post is now out of date, I deleted it all and started fresh. So here we go.

You can read the March 2014 Education Center update here. 

The last five months in Ghana have flown by at lightning fast speed. The Education Center has come such a long way since January and we are truly in the final, final, final stages before opening. I’m thrilled to be moving out of the two year construction period and into the decorating, opening, and program implementation period. It’s such an exciting time for all of us, here in Ghana & abroad. Our dream of the Education Center is so close to coming to fruition. It’s been a long time coming and the journey hasn’t been easy, but we are so thankful for the outpouring of support, encouragement, and assistance.

The plan right now is to have a five week “test run” of the Center from mid June to the end of July, then have the grand opening party in August, and fully launch the Center in September. We are doing it this way because the schools are currently in their final term of the year and will go on summer vacation starting at the end of July, and then reopen in the first week of September. We want to run the computer classes with the surrounding schools for the five week test to make sure the computers are functioning properly, see if we need to make any changes to curriculum, and to most of all get a feel for how a normal day could run at the Education Center. We will take all the feedback, critiques, and opinions and make any necessary changes and improvements so come September, we are fully prepared to begin operation of the Center.

I don’t want to reveal the entire finished Center until the grand opening in August, but here are a few sneak peeks! We are busy decorating and turning the place into the space we have been dreaming about for years.

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Education Center Update [March 5th, 2014]

Where do I even begin with this Education Center update? Everyday something is new at the Center. Everyday more progress has been made. Everyday we are one step closer to opening. It’s so hard to keep up and keep everything straight, and then trying to condense the info to share with all of you!

So where are we right now?

The tile flooring is finished on both the computer lab and library, the window frames are being painted so the windows can be installed, the septic tank is finished and hooked up to the indoor plumbing, we have running water connected, the bookshelves are almost finished, the computer desks are done, the library tables are in progress, we are buying chairs tomorrow, and interior and exterior ceiling is complete.

So what else needs to be done before we can open the Center?

The interior and exterior walls need to be painted (can’t wait for you see the colors I picked out!!), flowers planted outside, tile for two outdoor verandas, interior doors and locks installed, electricity connected to transformer, toilets and sinks installed, all furniture brought in, walls decorated, computers installed, books shelved, art supplies organized, offices put together, and about a billion other little tasks that I’m forgetting at the moment.

Phew. That’s a whole lot of work summed up into two short paragraphs. 

The construction of the Center (minus furnishing and decorating) should be done by the end of next week (at the latest). We should have the keys to a completed Center by the end of next week. Wow. We are in the final steps of this year and a half journey of building the Education Center. The fastest and longest year and a half of my life.

It feels like just yesterday I was standing in the middle of an overgrown field covered in trash, dreaming about a computer lab and library and having no idea how it was going to happen. And now less than 16 months later I’m standing in the exact same spot, except now, on top of that swatch of earth is a solid foundation, strong concrete, and tile flooring. 16 months ago I was standing on weeds and plastic bags, and now I’m standing inside my office. I can’t count the number of fundraisers, donations, budgets, tears, struggles, I-want-to-give-up moments, jumps for joy, ontop-of-the-world experiences, and hard, hard work that it has taken to get to this place, standing inside my office. I still can’t fathom it all…and I was involved in it all, so I can only imagine what it’s like watching it all happen through your computer screen thousands of miles away.

I sat down yesterday crunching the numbers of the budget and adding up the remaining costs, and I am so excited to say that we are going to have just enough money to complete construction and furnish and decorate. Just enough. God always provides what is needed, and this Center is a complete testament to that. Thanks to very generous donors and some passionate fundraisers, we have enough to complete construction. The is only thing that isn’t included in that budget, but is one of the most important parts of the Center, is the computers. I have partnered with an incredible non profit who has very generously donated supplies, labor, software, and set-up for the 25 computers, but we must pay for the computers themselves. In the coming days I will be figuring out exactly how much I have to raise, and I’ll have less than a month to raise it all because they need to be installed and working before we open the Center. Stay tuned for more info!

Standing inside my office!

Standing inside my office!

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Book shelves being built in the computer lab

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100% custom bookshelves just for us!

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Computer lab

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Computer lab bathrooms…and our beautiful tile flooring!

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Library side…flooring almost finished!

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The dream.

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Education Center [February 17th, 2014]

I am so so excited to share this update with you! I’ve been keeping all the news about the Education Center under wraps recently because I wanted to wait until it was the perfect time to share all the news at once. I hope I haven’t kept you waiting too long & you haven’t become impatient!

As you know, this summer we made incredible progress on the construction of the Center. When I arrived in June there wasn’t anything more than a few foundation bricks in the ground, and less than 3 months later when I left in September, the physical structure was complete and the roof was on.

I then returned to the US to complete another semester of college, hold 30in30 which raised over $18,000, and get my life packed up to move to Ghana. Work on the Education Center continued while I was in the US, but because of limited funding, it slowed down a bit. The last update I posted about the Education Center was exactly 2 months ago, when the plumbing and electrical had just been installed.

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And here is a photo from today, exactly two months later…..

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Because of your extremely generous donations to 30in30, when I moved to Ghana in early January we were able to get right to work & things moved along very quickly. In 2 months the progress made has been astounding. Just check it out…

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[Window & door frames installed]

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[Computer lab side: Gorgeous white & grey ceiling installed]

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[Interior and exterior electrical wiring & plumbing complete]

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[Library side: floor casted & ready for tiles]

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[Library side: interior plastering of walls complete, ready to paint]

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[Septic tank dug & installed]

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[Exterior plastering finished, ready to paint]

Because I’ve been so busy during the last 6 weeks here in Ghana, I haven’t been over to the Center construction site as much as I would like. I’ve been back and forth between the LIFOC office and my house, but snuck away this morning to go and take these photos. I stand in awe every time I visit, that this dream that was born less than a year and a half ago, is actually coming to fruition.

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I want to let you in on a little secret.
Do you want to know why we are jumping for joy in these photos?
Because the Education Center construction will be COMPLETELY finished in….
LESS THAN TWO WEEKS!!!

Yep, you heard me right, in two weeks or less, the construction will be totally done, and we will be ready to paint and start furnishing the Center. This also means, depending on funding, the Education Center is mere months from being functioning, and opening our doors for programs.

We are rejoicing!
We are jumping for joy!
We want to scream thanks from the tops of mountains!
We are thrilled & grateful & excited!

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Thank you sweet family, friends, and loved ones for all your donations, prayers, encouragement, and love during this journey of the Education Center. We couldn’t be doing any of this without you. Meda ase paaaaaaa!

One Year Ago [Education Center Update] & 30in30 Challenge

One year ago I was in Ghana for a month-long trip that began the Education Center. Before I arrived in Ghana, Light for Children (LIFOC) and I had been talking about the need for a computer lab to be able to continue providing computer classes to the community. For the past few years, LIFOC volunteers had been bringing the students to our office to use our 2 computers to teach the computer classes, register the students for email addresses, and show them how to use the internet. Our office isn’t big by any means, and with classes of 30+ students, it took hours upon hours for every student to have a chance to type on the keyboard and ask one question to the “all-knowing Google”. We knew that a bigger space was desperately needed.

When I arrived in Ghana late November 2012 I had no idea what would transpire. We had been discussing renovating an existing building, but ran into problems when the school would only allow it to be open during school hours, also discussed was the idea of applying for government land and building, which was really costly, or to rent another office to hold the classes in, which seemed too small. I didn’t know which route we would end up going, but I knew this was the project I was to be working on.

All the options got crossed off the list due to road blocks, except one: build from the ground up. From scratch. Start with a plot of land and go from there.
Begin with nothing except dirt & overgrown weeds & a huge, huge dream.
So we started with that.

After meeting with government officials, architects, construction managers, school headmasters, students, business owners, community members, and just about everyone in Atonsu, we made the leap & decided to just go for it. We were going to build a computer lab/library/art center from the ground up….and we had absolutely no idea what we were getting ourselves into. We had a burning desire and a huge mission + vision. We were going to make it happen, one way or another.

So the day before Christmas Eve last year I bought $400USD of cement and brought it over to the Education Center land. Our workers began molding blocks for the foundation of the building on Christmas Eve, the most incredible present I could have ever received. That was the official beginning of construction.

122312Today, December 23rd, 2013, one year later, I can’t believe the progress that was made in one short (yet long) year. Building the Education Center has been the craziest roller coaster ride of my life, but it’s been worth every second.

I just received new photos of the Center & holy moly is it looking good. The plumbing pipes & all the electrical wiring and sockets have been installed. We are chugging along at record pace!
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Electrical sockets installed on walls

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Socket boxes installed

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Openings from right to left: bathroom hallway, storage room window, my office window, my office doorframe

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Plumbing pipes installed….now to dig a septic tank!

One year ago we had overgrown bushes, today we have the most beautiful building standing. What a difference one year makes…I can only imagine the Education Center on December 23rd, 2014!

As you know, for the past 3 weeks I’ve been running a fundraiser called 30in30 [$30,000 to open the Education Center. Raise the money in 30 days.]
We currently have raised $7,460.
We need to raise $22,540 by Friday so the Education Center can be opened.
That’s quite a lot of money…but I have no doubt that it can be done.

Recently, two people approached me and wanted to make a donation towards 30in30, but  wanted to donate it in a particular way. They wanted their donation to have a catch. They said they would only donate the money if the same amount of money was raised during the last 5 days of the 30in30 campaign…a matching donation. If the amount of money they wanted to donate wasn’t raised, they wouldn’t donate anything at all.
It’s a challenge, and challenge accepted.

These two amazing people want to donate $2,500. HOLY MOLY!! We have from now until Friday at 11:59pm to raise AT LEAST $2,500. LETS DO THIS!! Your $30 donation becomes $60, $100 becomes $200, and $500 becomes $1,000 total donated. Now is the time to donate, there’s no better time than now!!

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Help Bring the World to Them

A little blue book stamped with a golden eagle sits peeking out of a FedEX envelope on a dark brown kitchen table, fresh visa sticker inside. The curious 5 year old I’m babysitting runs over to eat her morning snack and stares inquisitively at the foreign object.

She breaks the silence and asks me,
“Becca, what is that tiny blue book you have?”

I answer,
“It’s my passport, this is what lets me leave the United States. They put a stamp in it when you fly to a new country.”

She grabs my passport and thumbs through it,
“You have lots of colorful stamps. You’ve been to a lot of places.
When I’m as big as you can I get a passport?”

“Of course you can! You can come visit me and all my kids in Ghana!”

She questionably replies,
“Why can’t your kids in Ghana come visit us here in Chicago? I could take them to the top of the Sears Tower and to the Disney Store and to the movie theatre!”

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My mind then jumps to Ghana, where just months before I had almost the exact same conversation with 12 year old Brigid, who was helping me tape up a world map in my bedroom. She asked me to point out Chicago along with all the other places I had traveled to. I drew stars and pointed out the places, as she curled up on my bed and requested I tell her a story from each of the countries I had visited.

I told her about
the shimmering lights of the Eiffel Tower in France,
the chai tea in Tanzania,
the women dancing in Uganda,
the rolling hills in Rwanda,
the blue ocean in Zanzibar,
the colorful busses in Haiti, and
the street food in Nicaragua.

She closed her eyes and smiled, and kept asking for more stories, soaking the words into her soul and letting them reverberate her insides.
It was as if, even for just a moment, Brigid was free.
She was free from the stress of caring for her younger brother and sister and managing to keep up in junior high school. In hearing these stories of far off lands, Brigid’s mind was free to explore, beyond the one room her family calls home, beyond village that she has never left, and far beyond the borders of Ghana.
She asked,
“Sister Rebecca, will you take me to some of the countries you mentioned?
I want to see those places and make friends there.”

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I’ve realized over these past two years of traveling that my most prized possession, the little blue book with the golden eagle, has brought me freedom.
It has allowed me to travel outside the doors of the United States and brought me into doorways of clinics, orphanages, hospitals, schools, huts, houses, and everything in-between.
It has taken me places that have shattered my heart over and over, and been sewn back together with hope and laughter.
It has helped me realize that this big huge world is full of some pretty amazing people who struggle to make ends meet.
It has taken me outside the stereotypes and judgments of the United States and shaped me into a whole new person.
My passport has brought me to a little country in West Africa, that in less than three weeks, I will call my indefinite home.

I look over at my passport and I want to cut it up into a million pieces.
I want to give a piece to Brigid and all of her friends, and allow them to see the ruins in Mexico, the tall buildings in Hong Kong, and the snow in Alaska.
I want them to have the opportunity to see new lands, experience new cultures, learn new languages, and eat new foods.
I want them to have the chance to see how travel can shape their ideas and expectations and what an amazing word surrounds them.

Seeing as it is completely illegal to cut my passport, and Brigid doesn’t have a birth certificate and likely will never have a passport…if she can’t see the world, then I want to bring the world to her. 

We’re building an Education Center in Ghana, West Africa to bring freedom to these kids who hold a special place in my heart. This will be a place where they are free to explore their talents, dreams, distant lands, or their own backyards. They will have books, computer, and art supplies, to learn and create. They can escape their home life and surroundings, even for just a couple hours a day. I want to create a place where they can call their home away from home.

Will you help bring freedom & hope to thousands of children just like Brigid?

In order to open the Education Center $24,000 needs to be raised by December 27th.

Will you please consider making a donation of any amount
to bring the world to my kids & families in Ghana?

30in30 Update–Day 15

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We really need your help. We have fallen way, way behind and need to get back on track to reach the $30,000 goal by December 27th.
Will you check out our GoFundMe page and please consider donating to help get the Education Center in Ghana opened?
Would you ask for donations for 30in30 in lieu of holiday gifts?
Will you email friends and family, asking them to donate and help educate & empower the thousands of children and adults in Atonsu, Ghana?

Your small actions can make a HUGE difference in the lives the students and community members.

NEXT UP: Unveiling the amazing t-shirt design! If you donate $50 or more, you get a snazzy t-shirt along with other goodies! Click the button below to be taken to the donation page where all donation rewards are listed.

30in30 [day 3] & Education Center Upate

Hey fantastic friends!
I hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving & you are spending today snuggled up still in a food coma while munching on yummy leftovers and that half eaten apple pie. I had a delightful Thanksgiving with friends, old and new, and celebrated a special little girl’s first birthday. We have so much to be thankful for & I feel so incredibly blessed everyday.

Two days ago I launched a huge & exciting fundraiser that will last until December 27th called 30in30. Here’s the quick breakdown for those who need to get caught up:

  • Last January I ran a 20 day fundraiser called 20for20 where I asked people to donate $20 in honor of my 20th birthday, hoping to raise $20,000 to fund the entire construction of the Education Center. In 20 days we raised over $12,000
  • I spent this past summer in Ghana and in 2.5 months the entire physical structure of the Center was built
  • In September we had a beautiful building standing, but no money to continue
  • We added up the costs needed to finish and open the Center and they equaled $30,000
  • I move to Ghana in January and would love to have enough money to get right to work when I arrive
  • I love being challenged and am pretty competitive, the bigger the better
  • All of that led me to create……

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Since November 27th, just over $1,000 has been raised. I almost cry every time a donation comes through. I am so thankful that family, friends, and strangers who believe in the mission and vision of the Education Center and want to help get it opened. They believe in the big dreams of our children and see the passion and determination in the eyes of our adults. Most of them have never been to Atonsu, or Ghana, but are invested in  our programs and see the incredible potential this community has. To all who have donated, thank you from the bottom of my heart. Nothing would be possible without you.

Where is the Education Center right now & where will the money raised from 30in30 be going?

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Front security gates installed. The Center can finally be locked!

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Beautiful view outside our front gates

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Security bars installed on windows…no way anybody is stealing from us!

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Our dream. Our future.

Since I left Ghana in early September, work has continued on the Education Center because of some very generous donations. We were able to install security bars on the windows, and gates at the two front entrances. We couldn’t continue with any work until the gates & bars were installed, allowing us to lock the Center, because all the electrical wiring, doors, and furnishings would be stolen. Since the security features are finished, we were able to install the wooden doors on the inside for the 2 offices, 2 storage rooms, and 4 bathrooms.

The money from 30in30 will go towards finishing the Center and getting it opened. That includes: installing electricity/internet, plumbing, inside windows, front doors, plastering interior and exterior, painting interior and exterior, all furniture, buying computers, flooring, ceiling, and needed office supplies (and probably 1,000 more things that I’m forgetting at the moment). $30,000 will do all of that and allow us to officially begin programs.

How can you get involved?

DONATE!
Every single dollar makes a difference, it really does. There are 5 levels of rewards/gifts for donating to 30in30 and I think they are pretty awesome. The t-shirt designs will be released soon! Every donation gets us one step closer towards opening the doors of the Education Center & allowing all of Atonsu to rush in.

SPREAD THE WORD!
Are you a blogger/Tumblr person/Pintrest aficionado/Instagram addict/Twitter famous/Facebook crazy? I really need you. Send me an email to kuntzr@gmail.com and hop onboard the 30in30 Team.

Another really simple way to help get people to donate is messaging them personally. People can ignore FB posts and tweets, but if you send them a direct message, they pretty much have to read it. Is sending a personal message to every single one of your friends on Facebook considered spamming? Probably…but ya gotta do what ya gotta do. People are more likely to donate if they know that you believe in the cause.

Copy the message below and SPAM THE HECK out of your friends…I dare you.

“Hey [enter name here..it sounds more personal & less of a mass message]. My friend Rebecca is helping build a computer lab/library/art center in Ghana, West Africa for thousands of children and community members and she really needs your help. She has to raise $30,000 in 30 days to get the Education Center opened and allow the programs to begin. Will you check out the cause and consider donating any amount of money? to If 1,000 people donate just $30 the Education Center is opened and thousands have access to the amazing life-changing programs they have planned. Will you be one of the 1,000? http://www.gofundme.com/30in30 Thank you very much!”

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30in30 Launch!!

Hey friends!

Remember that huge & exciting fundraiser that I’ve been hinting at over the past few weeks?? Well it begins TODAY!

I am SO excited for this fundraiser to launch and see what the next 30 days bring.

For all the details, videos, and how the donate head over to the 30in30 page. 

LETS GET THE EDUCATION CENTER OPENED!!