Our AGM took place in London on Thursday 12 June. It was attended by 43 people, 10 of whom had sent a very welcome extra donation to GSA funds. 16 other people sent generous, and much-appreciated, donations but were unable to attend. We were pleased to welcome two representatives from the Ghana High Commission. In lieu of a keynote speaker we heard this year reports of several prominent projects with which GSA has been associated. Lynne Symonds spoke about the Wulugu Project, David Mustil gave a lively account of progress at the Good Shepherd School at Kasoa, Sonia Hinton told us about the work of the Sabre Trust in supporting and encouraging kindergarten education in the Cape Coast area. In the afternoon we had further updates on GSA-supported projects, including the J.Bedu School and the Cambridge-Bethel School in Awudome, Volta Region (Penny Sewell); the Let’s Read Scheme in the Upper East Region (Jo Hallett); Cape Coast Primary school (Susannah Mayhew); the Sandema community radio project (Patrick Heinecke); the Firm Foundations Academy in Bolgatanga (Moses Anafu); Abonse School (Letitia Boateng).
Here is the text of our Chairman, Ted Mayne’s, address to the meeting.
It was four years ago that we witnessed the success of Ghana’s footballers when they came within a kick of reaching the World Cup Semi-Finals. That in itself was a remarkable achievement and as the thirty-two nations assemble again, all of us involved in Ghana School Aid will be following them once again. The last football World Cup took place in South Africa and since then South Africa has lost its greatest son, Nelson Mandela. Nelson Mandela was an icon who strove for most of his life to improve the quality of life of his people and his primary aim was education. He regarded schooling as essential and a path to a better future and, shortly after his release from detention after serving 27 years in prison, he was appalled at the limited schooling availble to so many of his people, and he said “MAKE EVERY HOME, EVERY SHACK OR RICKETY STRUCTURE A CENTRE OF LEARNING”. These were brave words and we who are assembled here today, along with our supporters, are building on Mandela’s vision.
For our part, we have had an interesting year and continue to make progress. Our supporters may have been reduced in numbers but we continue to grow in other ways. Since our last meeting, when we were addressed by Lalage Bown, a true stalwart of education in Africa, we have seen our projects prosper in so many different ways. From the Sandema project in the north where Patrick Heinecke strives so manfully to keep this struggling project running, to the School of the Good Shepherd on the coast near to Kasoa, we have enabled struggling educational establishments not only to survive but also to grow and prosper. One only has to look to the Volta Region where Penny Sewell is so active monitoring two schools which have literally grown from nothing into successful schools which have been supported by Ghana School Aid. Likewise in Bolgatanga Jo Hallett’s regular trips ensure that the Ghana Let’s Read project remains on the rails. We now have plans to help out in Tamale as a result of the interest shown by Paul Boateng and, having our contact, Baako, in that area we have someone on site to keep us fully updated on the progress of GSA-supported schools in the region. There will be a chance for all of us to hear all about our projects after lunch and this afternoon also gives us the chance to meet up with old friends who are so closely involved with the work we do.
We recently reported the death of Bill Peters who was an active supporter of Ghana School Aid. He originally came on board following a successful global partnership gathering in the Barbican. He was an old African hand and was at our reunions until recently.
Our two patrons remain very supportive but sadly they cannot be here today. I was in touch with Baroness Chalker recently and she expressed her disappointment at not being able to come today. For my part, I must express my appreciation to Paul Boateng who has given us a lot of support, and his donations through his speaking engagements have ensured that our funds remain healthy and we can now embark on ambitious programmes in areas otherwise untouched. Paul has also helped out with visa applications for GSA-sponsored students keen to visit the United Kingdom.
I could go on at length about our work, but will refrain from doing so because our website is kept up-to-date and contains details of what we are doing. This is thanks to our hard-working committee members who have mastered modern IT. The committee has worked tirelessly to keep the show on the road. Our quarterly meetings present us with opportunities to discuss the needs of those applying for assistance and there is always full agreement on what should be our priorities. Nigel Dennis recently joined us and will be helping out with the accounts. This will be of some relief to Stanley Anthony who has held the fort for so long. Yes, thank you committee, and a special bouquet for Jennifer MacDougall who once more has produced an excellent Newsletter. As we enter another year, may those earlier words of Nelson Mandela be our foundation for the future.
Thank you all for your support.