Volunteering for WomensTrust truly made an impact on my life. I never thought I’d travel to a far off country and be so profoundly moved and inspired. Meeting such wonderfully strong-willed, determined women and girls has left me with a sense of being involved in an organization that’s moving forward with great strides for the progress of the community. Thanks to WomensTrust, my first hand experience in Pokuase, Ghana, gave me a once in a lifetime opportunity! I offered my services as a graphic designer, a social media enthusiastic and a photographer. Using my Twitter handle, @TamiFromMiami, I spread the word about WomensTrust. To gain hype in the social media realm, I used the hashtag #GoingGhana. Talking up my future trip with the organization, created a steady chatter, along with new followers for the their twitter account, @WomensTrust, and additional fans to their Facebook page. I couldn’t wait to meet the people and all the wonderful staff members of WomensTrust in Pokuase, Ghana! The first person I met was Peggy Roy. She’s apart of G.E.E.C. and received a scholarship to continue her education in the states. Each staff member had their own unique way of providing a positive atmosphere for getting the job done. After meeting the staff, I knew Pokuase was lucky to have a dedicated team who were willing to go the extra mile to help. I also spent time with the educational side of WomensTrust. The after-school computer class provided a further opportunity for girls to expand their knowledge. I also got a chance to sit in on G.E.E.C and was equally impressed. They attend these classes every weekend, and go to better themselves in school. Returning home, a more refreshed and rejuvenated person, I was moved by the many strong and independent women and girls I’d met there. This furthered my ideology that helping just one person can go a long way. One WomensTrust loan helps a mother’s business improve. One donated laptop helps a girl succeed in education. One teacher volunteering on the weekends helps girls do better and stay in school. I came back with an even bigger question, what more can I do to help? One thing I know for sure, WomensTrust is a significant factor in what is helping that community grow, and I wish them further success.
WomensTrust meets my desire to invest in microfinance initiatives for poor women in Ghana, one of Africa's most promising democraices.My philanthropy budget is very limited so it is important for me that any organization I give to is able to provide solid evidence of accomplishment. WomensTrust has consistently impressed me with their communications to donors and the level of detail they provide on the small loans - and basic business skills - they extend to women that then allow them and their families to rise above bare subsistence for the first time in their lives through such enterprises as baking, textile sales, food kiosks etc. I am also pleased they cover school fees for many girls who otherwise would not be educated in Africa's male-oriented society.
Why I Give To WT: I am a person of modest means with a huge philanthropic spirit. A small donation to WomensTrust guarantees an enormously positive impact on the lives of others. In addition to that guarantee, I give to WomesTrust because I know the founder and her staff. In our small NH town, we all are very proud of their work. Dana and WT keeps our community connected to the world through this work. Knowing that my small, regular donation helps my fellow community members to live their mission is worth every penny. And I know this because Dana and her staff are real people, involved in our town, and willing to tell the story of their projects in Ghana to any audience. With my donations I know that a woman in Pokuase whom I may never meet will be able to set goals and achieve them, in turn changing her life and her community.
From the first that I've heard about WomensTrust, I have only been highly impressed. Locally, the organization enjoys an enormously good reputation. I heard about them through various friends and acquaintances in the area, all of whom were so complimentary of not only their cause but of their staff as well. While their cause is obviously a worthwhile one, I can tell you from personal experience that their staff is energetic, competent, and committed to realizing that cause. I look forward to continuing to be involved with this great organization for as long as I am able to, and I urge others to get involved as well.
I have known about WomensTrust since its founding and while I had always respected the mission, I didn't get deeply involved until 2006 when I first went to Pokuase, Ghana. By spending time on the ground, I began to fully appreciate the challenges of the women in the town and the value of our programs in helping them rise above the limitations of poverty and lack of education. WomensTrust has allowed hard-working, resourceful, determined women to see possibilities for improving themselves that they had never imagined. And one "success" leads to another as they gain confidence that change is possible. WomensTrust offers a hand-up instead of a hand-out, engaging each client as a partner, so that both parties have responsibilities and rights. The process thus engenders pride and renewed commitment on all sides, as goals are met and progress is achieved.
One of the best things about WomensTrust is what drew me to it--its American headquarters are a few doors down from mine in a small New Hampshire town. This truly wonderful venture, which has made a real, quantifiable difference in Pokuase, is an enterprise that could be replicated by any number of motivated, far-sighted Americans. By focusing on one village, by enabling the people of that one village to do what it is that they want to do, by hand-picking staff, volunteers, interns, and other supporters, and by sheer guts, Dana and the engine that is WomensTrust have done incredible things--both as an international aid program (Economist Bill Easterly says: "WomensTrust is probably the best project I've seen in Africa.") and as a model of how others can create effective aid projects. I also love the resolve of WomensTrust to stick with Pokuase. Instead of doing a small bit in a number of villages, WT continues to show its committment to the village where they started--now by building a community center that will house among other things, a computer lab and meeting space for the villages many new entrepreneurs. Finally, it has become clear to me through time spent with WT staffers that WT does its research and is smart and deliberate about its choices and actions. Its early and continued focus on women and girls, on being "bottom up" and asking the people of Pokuase how they could help, and on providing loans to women and scholarships to girls according to a fair and structured way are all key components of highly rated and highly successful aid programs today--yet WomensTrust has been doing it this way for seven years.
I have been a donor since Women's Trust inception. Because I live and work in the same small town that Women's Trust is located I have had the good fortune to know and become friends with the founder and the staff. I can see the success that this small non-profit has had in the lives of the women and families in Poukwasi, Ghana. I know how hard working and committed the small staff is to the founder's original vision of women helping women thru microlending. I have seen the vision grow to the fields of health and education but stay within the scale of the possible. I know first hand that operating expenses are kept tight. And I have seen how one woman, Dana Dakin, has grown by plunging in and starting this non-profit with the idea that it was her time to Give Back.
I've been intimately involved with WomensTrust since 2007. What I appreciate most about the organization, besides the obvious impact that they're creating with their microlending program, is their constant desire to move forward, to strengthen themselves, to improve. WomensTrust is exploratory in both their work and in their goals, searching for innovative and sustainable solutions; they don't just follow the crowd. And the staff in both Ghana and the US are committed to helping make change.
Around the time Dana launched WomensTrust with proceeds from the sale of a used car, I grew interested in a program highly focused on improving the lives of women and girls in single African village: Pokuase, Ghana. I’ve stayed in touch as time has passed, with a big leap this year. In contrast with bubbling controversy over misspent aid and the way big banks have horned in on micro financing for the wrong reasons, WomensTrust sets a lofty standard. Micro finance forms just the base of a community-building program that now encompasses scholarships that keep girls in high school, computer training, new room added to a public school and a resource center -– and that’s not the whole list. WomensTrust is helping Pokuase villagers escape poverty and I welcome a chance to assist this outstanding, humble effort. It's not just my opinion that WomensTrust has something special going. Ask economist Bill Easterly, a tough critic of aid programs. He calls WomensTrust a rare blueprint for the right way to fight poverty in Africa.
I have supported WomensTrust since learning about it over 5 years ago. I had met Mohammad Yunus at the Beijing Women's Conference '95 and was impressed that Womenstrust was successfully using the Grameen model for microlending in Ghana. And I was specially struck by the way they were building from that base to integrate education and health care issues into their outreach in the community of Pokuase. As a Rotarian and as a grants writer, I saw ways to help WomensTrust meet its humanitarian mission through grants from Rotary, which has a strong international mission. Our Rotary club has provided grants for a generator to keep their databases accessible during frequest power outages, supplemental vitamins with iron for pregnant women with anemia and high blood pressure, textbooks and computers for a support program for their scholarship students armed at keeping girls in school. I recently spent three weeks in Ghana as a volunteer with WomensTrust working with the founder, Dana Dakin, and others to assess the educational and health needs of the community and develop further strategies with input from local leaders for addressing those needs. I have seen what this organization has done--- and will continue to do---to make a difference in people's lives and I strongly support it with both my time and treasure.