We spent a very enjoyable day on 13th June in the Crypt of St Mary’s Church, Islington. The morning was spent reviewing our activities for the past year. Secretary Jo Hallett provided us with a two-page document itemizing 29 Ghana school which had received grants between February and September 2018. The list was impressive, and the feedback always grateful and emphasizing the difference the grant had made to the operation of the school. Our main source of income has been some generous legacies left to us by people whose professional lives had taken them to Ghana, a country which remains dear to our hearts for all sorts of reasons. Full accounts were scrutinized and will be posted on our website. The committee was reelected nem con. I reproduce below the text of the Chairman’s report.
“Welcome to everyone and thank you for turning up today for this AGM and Reunion Lunch. This is the fourth time we have met here and the venue is proving to be popular. A huge thank you to Penny Sewell for the effort she has made to organise this occasion so well.
Ghana School Aid has had a good year and reports coming out of Ghana indicate that the nation is coping well and making progress in the education programmes. Of course all is not perfect but, from the evidence available, the situation is improving. With regard to Ghana School Aid, we continue to support projects in the North with emphasis on girls. We have been helped by the increase in donations from our supporters. In addition,our up-to-date website has enabled would-be contributors to gather information on what we actually do and I have been hugely encouraged by the way that our bank balance has grown and we have considerably increased our giving. The response from our recipients has been phenomenal and most encouraging. We received a generous legacy for nearly £10,000 from Sheila Mercer and a similar amount from the estate of Elizabeth Bennett. Generous donations from the estate of John Hampshire and £5,000 from Karola Strong. One surprise came in the form of a cheque from St James’s Place Charitable Foundation for £2,500 to go to Asuadei Basic School in Brong-Ahafo. Full details of our finances appear in our Newsletter. We actually received nearly £41,000 in one year to March 2019 which is amazing considering our annual totals in the past were around the lower four figure mark. In the 12 months up to March 2019 we were able to give away almost £43,000. This is fantastic and we have received numerous letters of thanks from grateful schools.
Looking back over the year, it is easy to see why and how we have made so much progress and this is thanks to the efficient way Penny Sewell and Jo Hallett have kept our website up-to-date. All this, plus our Newsletter produced so professionally by Jennifer MacDougall. Our website gives a clear indication of what we have achieved and what are our aims. Our Newsletter and website have provided the public with a shop window which comprehensively details our achievements.
I cannot conclude without further expressing the importance of a good education and many of the Ghanaians who have been helped by Ghana School Aid are very grateful and we have provided them with a lift out of poverty. In Ghana poverty and the breakdown of family life have secondary effects. Too many children wander about the streets because they have no schools to go to, or nor money for them to go to school, or no parents at home to see that they go to school, because both parents (if there be two) have to work to keep the family alive. This so often leads to a breakdown in moral standards. This is a mounting problem. It is hoped that Ghana’s recently found wealth from oil will go some way to easing the burden of the poor and lift them out of poverty. It was Clement Attlee who said that if we can educate our people we will eliminate poverty nd sickness. Our small contribution to education in Ghana does not go far, but it is of vital assistance for those whom we are targeting. We must go on.”
After a very pleasant lunch, with lots of old friends catching up on news, we reconvened to hear three very interesting presentations. Sarah Albebourle recounted how she had been to Lawra as a volunteer and had come to realise how best to help people in the region. With help of her family she has founded a charity called ACTION THROUGH ENTERPRISE with three aims: to provide school dinners; to improve the lot of the disabled; to mentor and support people as they start small businesses. We were all extremely impressed with Sarah’s activities. Then Jane Scott gave us an update on the WULUGU project which seems to go from strength to strength, and finally Sadia Hussain described her three-month stay in Ghana, volunteering in both the North and in the Volta Region. We were delighted to hear all three reports. Here are some pictures of the meeting. Apologies to Jane, whose photo somehow vanished from my phone.