Gearing up for what promises to be a life-changing journey, City Councillor Cindy Jefferies will leave for a two-week trip to Ghana, Africa on May 1.
“I am really, really excited,” said Jefferies. “I’m a little bit overwhelmed at the opportunity and I get a little choked up thinking about it because this is the chance of a lifetime to go and do some good and understand firsthand how good we have it and how much others need.”
Jefferies will meet Marilyn Pottage, founder and chair of Tools for Schools Africa Foundation in London and travel with her to Africa from there.
“We will be heading to northern Africa in the Damongo area,” said Jefferies.
For the last three years Jefferies has served as a board member and vice chair of the Tools for Schools Africa Foundation. This is a local organization that has been doing work in Ghana for the past seven years.
“We will meet some of the girls we have supported through scholarships, deliver some laptops that were donated, check on the boarding house we built last year, meet some of the artists who sell us their work for our fundraising efforts and look into the opportunity to build two classrooms, a small library and possibly a computer lab in the next few years,” said Jefferies. “This is a wonderful opportunity for me to see the results of our work and to see why we do this work. I think it will help me tell their story. It’s so surreal, I still can’t believe I’m going.”
The first part of their trip will be spent in Accra, which is the capital of Ghana and has a population of about two million people. From there, the pair will head to Tamale and then to the Damongo area.
“We’re going to visit as many of the scholarship girls as we can in their villages to try and see where they come from and talk about how school is going for them.”
Jefferies and Pottage will stay with families in Africa.
Meanwhile, Jefferies will take donations to Africa and is looking to the community for support. She has already gathered some soccer balls, laptops and duffle bags. For the girls who have received scholarships through Tools For Schools, Jefferies is bringing pens to give to each of them.
With a $20 donation, a child can receive a soccer ball. Every year Tools for Schools has an annual commitment of $15,000 for scholarships for 44 girls, four of which are for post-secondary students. For less than $250 a year, a girl in Grades 7-12 can be provided education in a public school. A donation of $850 a year would buy 12 months of private schooling, including lodging for a Grade 10, 11 or 12 student. Post-secondary education scholarships cost about $3,200 per student per year.
“I’d love to have some community support,” she said. “I’ve been collecting donations for soccer balls to take over and have a few more to sell. And leftover money will just go to the school funds.”
She added she would like to begin fundraising for Tools for Schools’ next project in Africa whether it be building two classrooms or the computer lab and the library.
“I think I’ll have a better idea of which I would like to concentrate on fundraising for once I get back,” said Jefferies.
Jefferies and Pottage plan to post updates on the organization’s web site while they are there.
Visit www.tfs-africa.org to follow the blog or for more information about the Tools For Schools Africa Foundation. To donate call Cindy Jefferies at 403-302-3706.