Mission Statement:  Tools for Schools Africa Foundation works to improve the quality of life in the
Northern Region of Ghana by enhancing educational opportunity and access to post primary education.

January 2017

Dear friends,

It has been another very successful year for Tools for Schools Africa Fdn. There are so many ‘success’ stories, too many to share in one email, so I have chosen just one story to share with you. We first met Anita in high school, and from the beginning she was like no other. girl. When we asked her what she planned to study after high school, she said ‘landscape architecture’. What? In North Ghana, agricultural efforts are directed at feeding their families, and this girl wants to beautify with plants?

With help from TFS-Africa Fdn. and Gail Wyatt, Anita completed a three year degree in agriculture. Now she is in Uganda where she is learning sustainable agriculture which will allow her to move away from dependency on ridiculously over-priced government supplied fertilizer. She is not only learning sustainable agriculture - she is learning how to build a sustainable life.

I’d like our Christmas greeting, and our thanks, to come from Anita through the attached photos. Let these be our thanks to you for all your service to TFS-Africa over the past year(s). You can see from her ear to ear smile just how happy she is. I can only imagine how she may help other women in the North to be more productive and self sustaining. It is a glorious Christmas message to see her joy in working with these small plants, and building skills to last a lifetime. Thank you for ALL that you have all done in changing lives like hers.

Warmly,

Marilyn


Transplanting Pawpaw seedlings in my orchand - Kilika

anita

Some Pawpaw seedlings and dry grass for moulching

anita

I am a happy person because my orange seedlings and mango seedlings are developing new shoots after I transplanted them on 28.11.2016

anita anita

My Passion Fruit are looking healthy in my orchard

anita anita

Preparation of Seedling hole

anita

Giving my seedlings life because water is life

anita

My Tomatoes and collards seedlings are also looking healthy

anita anita
anita

Preparing my animal liquid manure for spraying

anita anita anita anita anita anita

Spraying animal liquid manure on my carrot beds for the second time

anita anita anita anita anita anita

I did Neem Tree stem cutting on 6.12.2016 and the 19.12.2016 new eyes shooting.

anita anita anita anita

June 2016

Hello friends,

You have not heard from us in awhile, but lots of cool things have been happening in the background!

Most important, we would like you to mark your calendar for September 29, 2106. Shine On! is basically the same event as Shine! but will be hosted by the Red Deer Club of Rotary East with assistance from Tools for Schools Africa Fdn. We will share the proceeds of the evening which will be directed at women’ education and health issues round the world.

The theme of Shine On! 2016 will be the swing era complete with an eight piece swing band! Put on your dancing shoes (and your little net hat if you can find one) and bring your friends for a fun filled evening. Tickets are once again discounted for groups of five.

Please help us make this another memorable event with your DONATIONS OF NO-LONGER-USED JEWELLERY, PURSES AND SCARVES, as well as MENS’ TIES.

Tickets will be available July 1 on this website or by phoning Allan at (403) 304-8993. I will send out another blog to let you know the details when they are available. We expect another sold out event.

Thank you for your past support of Shine!, and we look forward to seeing you at Shine On! 2016.

Marilyn

shine on 2016


March 2016

We are pleased to announce that five girls have now graduated from post secondary institutions and are working in their selected fields. In alphabetical order they are:

ABIGAIL graduated in December 2015 with a two year certificate of nursing from Nyaniba College of Health. She is presently working at God Cares Community Hospital in Tamale.

ALFREDA excelled in a five year program, graduating Dec 19, 2015 with a Higher National Diploma in Electrical Engineering from Sunyani Polytechnic. She is presently doing a year of national service, teaching at Bolgatanga Technical Institute and helping wire new classrooms/labs after class time. After this year serving her country, she hopes to do a BSC in Electrical Engineering from KNUST. She is also considering setting up her own business.

LYDIA graduated from Bagabaga College of Education with a Diploma in Basic Education and is in her second year of teaching in a small village west of Larabanga. She is interested in returning to school to upgrade her qualifications from a diploma to a degree.

SHAFAWU received a Certificate in Nursing after completing a two year program in Community Nursing from Bole Community Health Nursing College. She is now working in a community near Yendi.

SOPHIA graduated from the Catholic University College of Ghana with a degree in Economics and Business Administration. She then received one of the few national scholarship to complete a Master’s Degree at Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology in Kumasi. Upon completion of her master’s degree Sophia will be teaching at Catholic University College of Ghana from which she got her first degree.

Finishing programs this year.

ANITA is graduating with a degree in Agriculture from Damongo Agricultural College.

ALOYSITA is finishing a six year medical degree at the University of Developmental Studies, Tamale.

AUGUSTINA, ROSE AND SALIMA are finishing a two year Certificate in Nursing from Damongo Health Assistants Training School.

CHARITY is completing a three year program in Basic Education from Tumu College of Education.

JANET is graduating with a four year nursing degree from Presbyterian University.

SAHADA is completing a three year Certificate in Nursing through Tamale Midwifery and Nursing College.

We are very pleased with the commitment all our scholarship girls have shown toward their education. No one has failed or dropped out - each has given her best to make her way forward in life. We continue to thank the many sponsors who have helped these girls change their lives.


December 1, 2015

Dawe Secret Shoppers


November 1, 2015

Thank you friends for making this another successful event by donating, cleaning items, attending, buying jewellery and other treasures, and especially volunteering.

Shine! 2015 was another sellout event. Sophia, one of our university graduates, told her story at Shine!. She is now an apprentice administrator of TFS Africa in Ghana and is at KNUST working on a master’s degree. What a journey she is on!

collage

This year we have 18 girls in post secondary and about 75 in jr/sr high school. Girls who have graduated (some community nurses, a teacher and an electrical engineer) are already working in North region communities of Ghana.

A good part of the remaining Shine! inventory is being used for other charitable causes. Art was donated to the Art Moves program of the Allied Arts Council. About fifteen hundred pieces of jewellery, over 200 scarves and many purses were donated to the Dawe/St. Pat’s Christmas sale where kids can buy any gift for $2 each. We have a small inventory of higher end jewellery remaining.

The entire Shine Committee - Susan Knopp, Cindy Jefferies, Sue Carmichael, Lyn Goertzen, Cathy Sather, Melo Manning, Shirley Gaetz, Marilyn Ganger, Jean Mudd, Wendy Cawson, Marlene Bennett and I - hope you had a grand time at Shine 2015, and enjoy your ‘treasures’ for years to come.


June 20, 2015

Hello friends,

We promised a blog after the scholarship girls met for Shine in Damongo on June 6th, but we are on African time. Just a small delay, Auntie! The internet was down for several days from before Shine until after we left the country, so obviously the blog did not happen when promised. But, here it is…..

The Shine! day in Damongo was amazing. We sat there looking over the hall full of girls (we moved to the large hall to accommodate so many) all of whom were excited about being there. The stars of the day were our post-secondary girls shown in the photo below. Several of you will recognize the faces of the girls you are sponsoring in this group shot.

Sponsored girls

The junior high and senior high students and mentors also attended. Looking over that roomful of amazing and talented girls made our hearts full. I am sure you would have felt the same. We thank you so much for your support of this project, and hope our description and pictures show you what a positive impact your dollars have had.

The 120 girls whose education and life have changed through TFS-Africa Fdn. support.

school girls

Sophia, a graduate, MC-ing the celebrations in Damongo.

sophia

On the day of Shine!, a crew of girls and mentors met at 5 am to decorate the hall with yards and yards of blue and white organza on the back wall draped from ceiling to floor, and also covering the large table on the dais. Bouquets of plastic flowers were grouped around the table. A few of the ceiling fans were working but unfortunately not where we were sitting. The MC for the day was one of our graduates, Sophia, who hopes to attend Shine in Red Deer this fall. She is a mentor-in-training and is looking after our newest scholarship girl, Edith, who is in education at Sunyani University. Sophia did a wonderful job of getting the girls organized and running the day’s events. We had introductions, speeches, cultural dancing and group pictures in the morning. After lunch we announced some policy changes, had a soda and did a wonderful craft with beads on small gourds to use as Christmas decorations led by Marilyn Ganger. The girls took lots of pictures with us before they left. I think every person that attended went home with renewed energy and commitment to do their very best. It is so wonderful to see the post secondary girls working together as a support group for each other and coming forward to volunteer as mentors for other younger girls. We had hoped this would happen as a way for older girls to give back to younger girls, and it has.

Gabriella, who you met at Shine last year, was the 'grande dame' of the day, speaking to the girls about their hopes for the future and how best to take advantage of this educational opportunity. Her presence was so important because the entire community has so much respect for her. Francisca, our CFO, made the flight north to Tamale to join us but her plane was turned around mid flight due to 'technical difficulties’. She was not able to book another flight and was less than pleased when she was refunded only half her ticket cost. Her call from the airport left do doubt as to her disappointment and frustration. “Marilyn, I tell you, I am hot!!!" Other than that, we can’t think of a thing that would have made the day more wonderful, other than what some AC could have provided. We begin sweating before 9 am and looked like wrung out dishrags before the day was done, but 36-38 degree heat with 80 percent humidity will do that to you! A shower, one small stream of water tricking down from the shower head, was most welcome!

As well we had some enjoyable times shopping for Red Deer’s Shine. We bought Bolga baskets, some wonderful African children’s books, hot pads, jewellery, shea butter products and other lovely surprises. The traditional mud cloth is getting very difficult to find, but we purchased a smaller piece done in soft blues - a really amazing piece of art. Because we have been selling our Nine Degree North books at the high end gift store in Accra, we had more funds to work with. We also met with Francis Amoah and bought another wonderful painting while we had a nice visit.

An exclusive safari style hotel is being built in Mole National Park, the game reserve near Damongo. When we went to check it out we found to our amazement that the contractor is from Wetaskiwin! The hotel should be open this October and they are looking to stock their gift shop with items representative of North Ghana, so have purchased copies of our first two books to sell there. We are still planning a third book in that trilogy, but in the meantime, it looks as if we might be undertaking another book about the game reserve itself. Osman, their best guide and a friend of ours for several years now, has been working and taking pictures in the reserve for twelve years. He has pictures that outsiders rarely see, such as baby elephants nursing, and many stories that could make a very interesting book. We’ll see if we can get this book off the ground too.

Huge thanks go to our two able drivers, Mahama and Sule. We can’t imagine traveling in Africa without drivers we know and trust, and we can’t thank them enough for keeping us safe, and for the many good times we shared. When Sule was called away to his father’s funeral, Mahama asked his big man for time off and got three days to take us to Bolga to shop for baskets. With Mahama, there is always lots of stories, fun and laughter. Luckily he is also a self-taught mechanic. Soon he was taking off the wheel and checking the grinding brake pads which had been installed a couple of days before. Once Sule returned from his father’s funeral rites, he again drove us.

How many of us are lucky enough to celebrate a birthday in the middle of West Africa? On June 8th, we celebrated MG’s birthday with great food, gifts, laughter and shandy. Thirty-nine she said, with a decade or two of experience!

M2’s birthday celebration

birthday

One of the villages on the Damongo Road with solar lighting courtesy of a Japanese company

solar village

On the Sunday before we left Damongo, Mahama told us he had a gift for us. He took us to his house where he presented us with gifts: skulls of animals from the reserve. MG got a kob, Jean was remembered with a bush buck and MP got a hartebeest. We asked him to keep them at his house until we researched restrictions on skull importation!

A few years ago Mahama and Mumuna, his wife, had cooked us puff adder. This time they served us elephant stew. Two male elephants had battled, and the older one was so badly injured that he had to be put down. Elephant meat was traditionally saved for important people and honoured guests, so we felt honoured, too. The meat was not gamey at all and tasted pretty much like stringy beef.

Over the last three years there have been many changes. The road to Damongo is now paved which changes the trip to Tamale from a half day of jolting and bumping to an hour and a half smooth ride. Villages along the newly paved road also received new schools, and some also have medical clinics, market stalls, and toilets. A Japanese group has installed solar powered yard lights at some compounds, so on bright days they have some night light. The traditional round mud huts are starting to giving way to the rectangular plastered mud brick houses with tin roofs. We were impressed with the changes that the Northern Region is finally seeing. It is long overdue and so encouraging to see this progress.

Sincerely, and hoping to see you at Shine Red Deer on Sept 24

M Squared


June 4, 2015

Hi friends,

We thought we would sent you a bit of an update while in Ghana.

Although M Squared (Marilyn Ganger and Marilyn Pottage) have traveled together in Ghana over several trips, we have still had some 'firsts' on this journey.

It has been hotter than either of us remember. Temperatures are in the high 30's and with humidity feel pke they are in the 40's. The heat drains us enough that we really aren't very hungry so we expect to come home spmmer versions of ourselves. We're sure you will notice!

Our driver got some bad news when we were in Accra. His father had been bitten by a snake and had died that afternoon. Although we had planned to stay a couple days in Kumasi, we packed at 5 am and drove for twelve hours so Sule could be with his family. It is the first time we had been invited to the family house for burial ceremonies. Mahama came with us to cue us as to what we were to do and when. We found the family to be so warm and welcoming although we had only met a few of them before. First we were introduced to the Chiefs and other men, then we were taken into a 6 x 8 foot room where the walls were pned with women sitting on the floor. We took our floor position and after introductions and condolences they kindly allowed us to take some pictures. But the cutest picture of the day was the small girl in a nearby compound who was learning how to back babies by backing her teddy bear. I'll forward the picture after we get home.

One of the joys of this trip is the new Damongo Road. It had been promised for years so it was a great experience to travel that road on pavement rather than in the ditch where we often traveled before. In addition to the new road are new schools, cpnics, markets, toilets and a weigh scale. Many villages now have new solar powered yard pghts at each compound. Although most the houses are still round mud huts in the Dagoomba style, we are seeing many more shiny tin roofs, and some beehived shaped houses that are different than we have seen before. Now there are street signs which were previously unknown in the north.

As we were travepng to Damongo today we stopped on the road to watch ten or so men try to load a range cow onto the back of a flatbed truck. Ok, we admit you had to be there to fully enjoy this, but the poor cow got dropped a number of times in the loading process because Mahama kept asking if I could take pictures. The poor thing.

Breakfast, at the guest house this morning, introduced a new possibipty to us. Our fried eggs had sliced onion and diced cabbage in them and it was great! Mary had made a heart shaped pound cake for us, which ended up being a small road snack and Mahama's lunch.

This blog is being sent from Tamale because we are on our way north to Bolgatanga tomorrow looking for more Shine treasures.

We are really looking forward to meeting with our scholarship girls this Saturday and will send pictures of that event in our next blog. Here is an African quote for the day: "If you think little things don't make a difference in your life, try spending a night with a mosquito." (From the wall in the guest house).

All for now,

M Squared

Sule driving us north

Sule driving us north

New Damongo Road

New Damongo Road

Fruit stands along the road.

Fruit Stands

Street traders loving the selling opportunities with more traffic

Street Traders

Slow trip to Bolga

Slow trip to Bolga

School at Disiga

School at Disiga


May 1, 2015

2015 Shine Poster


April 23, 2015

Hello all,

Yay! We have survived another Winter and, now that Spring is here, can comfort ourselves knowing that sunnier days are on their way.

SHINE!

THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 24, 2015 7:00 p.m. HARVEST CENTRE, WESTERNER PARK

Donations Needed! Gently used Fine Art added to this year’s offerings

Speaking of Spring, we would be more than happy to take your donations if you come across anything during your Spring cleaning. This year, in addition to jewellery, scarves, hats/fascinators, belts and handbags, we are adding fine art to our event and are excited for this new addition. Phew! What a selection! Please consider us as you de-dust and de-clutter over the next while and if you are tired of looking at that orchid painting on your living room wall, consider donating it to us and finding a replacement at Shine! This will be a unique opportunity to recycle artwork and give your home an instant makeover. We have already had some beautiful pieces donated so are excited for the possibilities.

All donations are accepted thoughout the year at Artistry in Gold, 5001 50-Street, Red Deer, phone 403.343.6544. Once again we must express our sincere appreciation to them for their support. If you haven’t already done so, don’t forget to visit their store to spend your $50 gift card giveaway that you received at last year’s event. It is valid until this year’s Shine!

If you prefer, you can contact me to make other arrangements for donation delivery/pick up.

How Can You Help?

- Try a donation gathering party! -

Last year we got a wonderful donation of items for Shine! from a great group of people in Edmonton and this is how it happened!

Lorrain decided to help gather donations for Shine! by hosting a party.

She had wonderful snacks and wine and invited friends, family, and colleagues to go through their belongings and bring donations that would be given to us for our Shine! event. The evening was so much fun! Everyone had a great time, felt good about having done some de-cluttering at home and felt even better when they knew their treasured items were going to this great cause. As people visited, they looked at each other’s belongings, shared stories, and learned more about the project and people in Ghana who would benefit from their generosity. The evening was a huge success with people enjoying connecting with each other and having a lot of donations gathered at the same time! (If you want to know any more about how this happened, please get in touch with us.)

Volunteers Needed!

We have already started to clean and sort merchandise that has been donated. If you would like to help, please contact me - we would be happy to drop off items for you to clean!

New venue at Westerner Park’s Harvest Centre

We are also excited to announce a move to a bigger location. Same great atmosphere, same great merchandise displays but on a larger scale with even more room - the possibilities are endless!

And we have started the process to have one of our post-secondary graduates, Sophia, attend as guest speaker. You will recall reading about her in a previous blog – she helps with administration of Tools for Schools Africa in Ghana, having just graduated from the University of Sunyani in July with a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Management. She is now completing national service as an administrative assistant at the university and is mentoring another of our post-secondary girls, Edith. In September she hopes to pursue a master’s program with Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology studying Logistics and Supply Chain Management.

I have included an excerpt of the touching email we received from Sophia, responding to our invitation to visit Canada:

“ Ooh Madam, In fact I don’t know what to say again, I am crying, in fact, tears of Joy. I have never entered a plane before even within Ghana and I, SOPHIA DAUDA is being invited to Canada. In fact it’s like I’m dreaming, Will someone wake me up? Please Madam, I highly ACCEPT this offer. This is not just because I am going to travel but because I would be helping to raise funds for less privileged girls in Damongo. A girl like me would be able to get to go to school! Moreover I get the chance to see my mom again!!! Madam, thank you very much for this opportunity. I am very Grateful.”

SISTA’ CIRCLE

We have a great opportunity for those of you who would like to have a more in depth understanding of our African project while using some of your talents to support scholarships. This is an opportunity to enjoy social interactions with other globally minded women while finding short term, interesting ways of supporting the project.

The Sista' Circle offers two ways to participate:

  • Inspiration et al. Come join other artists/crafters to create through painting, beading, knitting, sewing, quilting, jewelry making, woodworking, etc. We will meet once a month to discuss ideas and work on our projects with the goal of producing high quality, unique pieces to be sold at Shine! This will be a wonderful creative/social outlet for all you artistically inclined and talented women.
  • Ventures et al. This group can develop their own small fundraising ventures such as a luncheon in a home, a road trip for a group at $100 each, classes in journal making or cinnamon roll baking, book exchange/sale, garden tour, or a joint garage sale. We will host get-togethers throughout the year so the group can brainstorm and plan short term imaginative ways to become an ambassador for our organization – and generally just have a great time.

If you are interested in becoming involved or would like more information, please contact either Marilyn Pottage or myself by May 1, 2015.

SPONSORSHIP GIRLS

Since our sponsorship program began in 2009, we have sponsored 115 girls. In the 2014-2015 school year we are sponsoring 25 girls in junior high and 45 in senior secondary school and have 17 girls on post-secondary scholarships. A huge thank you to the personal donors who continue to sponsor our post-secondary girls.

We continue to keep in close contact with everyone in Ghana and we all work together to help the girls in any way we can – everything from giving advice about immunization to providing a conservative living allowance to funding additional educational opportunities that foster further learning opportunities. For example, this past month twelve teachers (including our five mentors) in four schools provided additional weekend study sessions to small groups of students in the subject areas of Math, Science and English. The intent was that these sessions would improve results in areas where girls normally show low performance and it was felt the smaller class size would allow the girls to “feel freer to interact with the teachers and ask questions to have their wrong thoughts and methods corrected”. As well, we funded a Career Conference Day where the girls listened to presentations about career paths and opportunities available to them.

TRAVEL TO GHANA

Marilyn Pottage and Marilyn Ganger (M-squared as they are affectionately called in Ghana) will be heading overseas at the end of May to attend our annual Shine! event in Damongo. While there they will attend the two-day workshop and visit with the sponsorship girls, check on the library at Presby Primary/Junior High School that we have outfitted with books over the past several years and will be buying textbooks that are desperately needed for the Boarding House Junior High School, in particular Ghanaian-approved science textbooks, novels and advanced learner dictionaries. This is just a small sampling of expected activities as there never seems to be a shortage of things to do on our visits – suffice to say they will be extremely busy! And, of course, they will also be shopping for items to bring back for our silent auction at Shine!

RAFFLE

We were very pleased with the success of last year’s “Beer for A Year, Heh?” raffle so have decided to do another one! Stay tuned for details about an upcoming Christmas Raffle.

THIRD BOOK

We are still tossing ideas around for our third book: Nine Degrees North: A Day at the Market. Aimed at primary students in Ghana its simple text will teach them how to read and count in Gonja and English.

So that’s all for now. We would love to share more with your about our accomplishments. Please don’t hesitate to contact us if you would like to talk further. And watch this space for more exciting details about Shine! as we get closer to the date.

Thank you, as always, for your continued support of Tools for Schools Africa Foundation.

Lyn