As the Executive Director of AEI, I can speak to the unmatched dedication of the artistic instructors on the ground in Ghana and Sierra Leone. Since I founded AEI, one of the most important principles of our work has been to cultivate relationships between the children we serve and the bearers of artistic tradition within their own communities. Today I can proudly say that we are fostering these mentorship relationships daily, and that the artists instructing the children we serve are not only singularly talented, but compassionate and caring role models in communities with conflicted histories. Our artists help orphaned and abandoned children to confront trauma on their own terms, and to become leaders in their own communities. I simply can’t say enough and am grateful for their hard work and dedication each day.
AEI is an up-and-coming nonprofit with a unique approach to promoting education in the developing world. In my experience with NGOs, I have never seen an organization that is so resourceful in their use of funds, so culturally sensitive to the needs of the communities they serve, or so lovingly tailored to the strengths of individual students. By working closely with local artists, AEI is able to sponsor arts, drama, dance, music, writing and handicraft classes that are culturally relevant and valuable to the community in many ways. AEI provides for the personal and professional development of youth, reconciliation within post-war communities, employment for local artisans, and a forum for cultural exchange. The director and staff have an unwavering commitment to both the letter and the spirit of their mission and I'm honored to be a small part of the amazing work they do.
I have had the pleasure of being a member of AEI's board for the past 1.5 years, primarily focusing on working with Sarah Geller on tactical issues including operations, budgeting, organization planning, and program execution.
I continue to be impressed by Sarah's singular focus and vision for her nonprofit and have witnessed first-hand the impact that AEI's programs have on orphaned and abandoned children in West Africa. Sarah operates her organization with a keen focus on what the kids need, and is effective at aligning her administrators' and artists' objectives to investing the limited funding that she works tirelessly to generate into the right place at the right time. This is why she continues to be successful and why AEI's programs have expanded by over 75% in the past two years. And as a donor, I cannot envision a more effective way to make a difference in childrens' lives.