We held our AGM by Zoom on Thursday 25th June 2020 (see separate report). Here is the Annual Report, given by our chairman, Ted Mayne:
We have had a testing year, what with the Coronavirus Pandemic and the extensive requests from rural schools in Ghana. I do not really know where to start, but I can confirm that, thanks to our representatives on the ground, we have managed to support more projects than ever before. This is because we have received nearly £35,000 in donations from generous donors and legacies.
When I first went to Ghana in 1987, I became conscious of the thousands of children who had received little or no education. 1987 was a hard time for Ghana: there were food shortages and the country was very slowly climbing out of a severe recession. The World Bank was there to lend a helping hand and slowly but surely things improved. It was around this time that Ghana School Aid came into existence and this dedicated team of old Gold Coasters were able to see where the schooling deficiencies lay. Francophone Africa appeared to be so much ahead of the game and Ghana was likely to be left behind. However, things did change and by due diligence and hard work the country has risen from the ashes and moved forward.
There was much to do and very quickly funds were raised to finance education in the rural schools. The grants were only small but our efforts made such a difference to these rural schools. Over the next 30+ years the charity grew and we were able to finance several major projects. This was an achievement in itself and once our website was built, we were able to “show the world” what we were doing. Originally, we only raised £3,000 and this slowly increased, and I am pleased to report that in the 12 months up to 27th March 2020 we raised almost £35,000. This is amazing and our recent Newsletter contains up-to-date information on our achievements so far.
Our fund-raising methods have been revolutionised: gone are the small raffles and small cheques from donors, to be replaced by 4 to 5 figure legacies from individuals who have discovered our existence through the internet. I can report that our hard-working committee keeps the show on the road.
In spite of “lockdown”, information technology has enabled us to have our quarterly committee meeting thanks to Zoom and for the first time ever, this AGM, .
Patrick Heinecke, who now no longer attends our meetings and no longer travels to Ghana, is still active with the Sandema Project. This means that we shall continue to support this project. Patrick has not been to Ghana for two years, but he remains as passionate as ever about the work in the upper regions.
Coronavirus has left much of our work in Ghana in the balance. Most of the schools remain closed, which is not good. So many of them have seen their funds dry up and it will take a long time to restore their finances to their previous level. We are fortunate that we have Kofi Ohene who can manage our funds in Ghana, so our projects can survive.
The GSA committee has been fantastic. Every member has remained on fire for the people of Ghana. I cannot let this report pass without mentioning Jennifer MacDougall who produced a marvelous Newsletter. I am sure you will agree that it is a true work of art. It is creative and full of articles describing exactly what we have achieved over the past year.
I am sad that we will not be meeting up for our AGM, but I am pleased that we have Zoom to act as a substitute. I hope all will be well for 2021. There is much to achieve and I end by quoting the much-maligned Cecil Rhodes who said, “so much to do, so little done”. In real terms, our efforts have been small, and there is much to do. However, the little we do does make a huge difference to the impoverished schools that we support.
We have had encouraging comments from one of our longest-standing members, Lalage Bown, who went to West Africa in 1949. She sent glowing comments on our recent Newsletter. I spoke to her last week and, at the age of 93, she is as bright as ever. Eric and Auriol Earle, who can no longer attend our meetings remain avid supporters. Both are well into their nineties and I have enjoyed visiting them and updating them on our work.
This concludes my report and I hope we shall regroup next year. God bless you all.