Visiting Ghana with WIL
by Sandee Mandel
In November, 2016 I led a group from WIL of Greater Philadelphia (Women’s International Leaders) on a marathon 10 days in which we toured Ghana from busy Accra, the capitol to the dusty Northern Region and back again (with a restful stop at the beach on the Cape Coast). WIL is an organization dedicated to the empowerment of women in developing countries. Members contribute their time, knowledge and funds to support a broad array of projects that raise women’s economic and social status, promote self-determination, and help women become community leaders. In cooperation with Leah’s Dream, the eight women who travelled with me in early November gained firsthand knowledge of the hardships that the women and girls of Ghana endure.
Providing service was part of the agenda, and it was wonderful to witness the mentoring of the Afafanto Scholars and the village women from Larabanga by these accomplished ladies. Meeting with the girls in our offices in Tamale, the WIL women talked about their lives and the work and sacrifice they made to become successful. Our Afafanto girls spoke about their aspirations as well. They all would like to continue on to university. Two want to be accountants, one a teacher, one a nutritionist, every one of the girls had big dreams to help their villages as well as themselves.
In Larabanga, 43 village women heard a presentation from WIL member Carol Cunningham on a new process for making fuel. Afterwards, the women broke up into smaller groups for a discussion on how the village women capitalize on this idea to earn money and save the environment at the same time. The village women were energized. All they needed was a tin drum, some organic material (they had plenty of shea butter waste) and some starch. The idea that they cold earn money and save the environment at the same time energized the village women and men alike. It will be exciting to see how they move forward with what Carol shared with them.
Traveling around Ghana is an arduous, expensive enterprise. Good roads are just now being built to the more remote areas. It took a lot of hard work and time for both Emelia Guo, Labrine Braimah, NGO executive director and business manager and Ibn Kamara, coordinator in Larabanga to organize these meetings. I deeply appreciate their efforts on behalf of Leah’s Dream.
The costs of food and transportation just to bring the scholarship girls into the Tamale office from their various school across the country are high for a small non profit and present significant roadblocks for getting our girls and women together.
Sadly, since my last visit nearly two years ago, life seems harder than ever. Food, energy and fuel costs have gone up. People save by using fewer lights. Senior High Schools suffer along with the rest of the country. The Afafanto girls spend more time searching for wood and water. Costs of uniforms and supplies have increased.
WIL Members’ Day Trip to the Home of Suffragette Alice Paul
Our visit included a presentation about this extraordinary woman and the Alice Paul Institute, which is preserving her legacy and mission to empower women, followed by a private tour of historic Paulsdale and lunch.
Alice Paul (January 11, 1885 – July 9, 1977) was an American suffragist, feminist, and women’s rights activist, and the main leader and strategist of the 1910s campaign for the Nineteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which prohibits sex discrimination in the right to vote. Along with Lucy Burns and others, Paul strategized the events, such as the Woman Suffrage Procession and the Silent Sentinels, which led the successful campaign that resulted in its passage in 1920. After 1920, Paul spent a half century as leader of the National Woman’s Party, which fought for her Equal Rights Amendment to secure constitutional equality for women. She won a large degree of success with the inclusion of women as a group protected against discrimination by the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
WIL’S DOMINICAN REPUBLIC TRIP- 2015
Hosted by Schools for Sustainability Inc.
Read a report on this trip here.
Read WIL member Anna Maria DiDio’s Philadelphia Inquirer article about this trip here.
WIL Travel Committee
Rhonda Karp, Co-Chair
Sandee Mandel, Co-Chair
Anna Maria Didio
WIL in Cuba 2014
Members visit a school room.
…and a cigar roller.
WIL in Haiti
In October of 2012, a group of WIL members traveled to Haiti to visit Fonkoze Bank and see microbanks at work.
Faces of Haiti
WIL in Guatemala
WIL members visiting in Guatemala, April 2010.
Lake Atitlan, Guatemala
WIL members visiting in Guatemala, April 2010.