Akwaaba from Ghana!
I am so excited to write to you from Ghana, and share much wonderful news from all of us here at the Lilies of the Field Academy in Osu! I arrived about a week ago, and will be here in Ghana until early August, sharing the end of the academic year with all of the children. I have also had the opportunity to visit all of the schools which the children are attending, and am thrilled to report that the headmasters and teachers shared tremendous praise for our Lilies students. They are leaders in their classes and schools, and we expect that every single one of our 85 children will pass their end of term exams and move on to the next level. This is unprecedented achievement, in large part due not only to the dedicated students, but our teachers as well. Under the leadership of Luigia Adokwei, our teachers provide the support and encouragement that is reaping amazing benefits for the Lilies children, and for that, I am truly grateful.
There are two pieces of business I would like to share with you. First, we have been extremely lucky to receive our first grant from a private family foundation. While the foundation has asked that we not make any official public announcement about the donation, we are able to tell you that it will be used to start renovating our existing building, and start building a new school facility on our current property in Osu. Joe and I met with the elders of the community and the landlord, who have to approve all changes to the property, and they have given us the necessary approval to proceed. An architect is currently completing a design for a basic two-classroom building adjacent to the current structure. We hope to complete this phase of the project while school is vacated this July and August. Then we will begin a renovation on our existing building, where will also have two additional classrooms and some storage space. This will allow us to bring more deserving children into our programs. Ultimately, we hope to connect these two buildings with shared office space and fully functional bathrooms. Of course, this will require some significant fundraising, so plans for that are in the works as well.
The second topic of business concerns our sponsorship program. Currently, 85 children between the ages of 4-14 are attending school in Osu through sponsorship. In order to comply with IRS regulations for tax deductible donations, we cannot ask anyone to donate for a specific child, but to the sponsorship program in general. However, I have been able to designate your gifts to each of the children, so you can know something about their individual progress. Looking ahead to the 2018-19 school year, we are asking that the annual sponsorship fee be increased to $325. All of the fees at the schools have increased significantly this year, as well as the items and programs these fees are intended to cover. For example, we were just informed that all of the children at the government schools need to have a special uniform made for the graduation exercises in July, or they cannot attend. I hope the additional expense will not be a burden for any of you. We are also looking for an additional 25 sponsors, which allow us to send additional children who are attending our after-school program to full time school. Please share our website with anyone you think would like to join our sponsorship program, or have them contact me.
It will be very helpful if all of you agreeing to sponsor a student again for the 2018-2019 school year can make the $325 payment by the end of July, through the “donate” button on our website, theliliesfoundation.org. Since I am in Ghana until August, depositing checks will be a challenge. However, if that is what you want to do, please note that our address has changed to 8 Goldenrod Lane, Sidney, Maine, 04330. You can also use Venmo or PayPal to send the money to me at Kim Wiggin. If you need to pay your sponsorship fee in two installments (July and January) please just let me know that, and I will send you a reminder in December. If you are not able to continue as a sponsor, please let me know that as well so I can try to find someone else. We really want to make sure that all of the children can continue uninterrupted attendance to school!
We will updating the website with new pictures at the end of the school year in late July. I try to post frequently on our Facebook page as well. I am also in the process of planning our first Gala, which I hope will be held later in 2019. This will allow us to share the good news about Lilies and our important work to change a community through education and cultural experiences.
Lastly, please know how very much I appreciate your support, both financial and emotional, for this amazing program. There is a special energy around Lilies, one filled with joy and hope, in an otherwise severely impoverished area. Your help is changing lives every day, and it is these children who will change our world in the future. I invite all of you to join me for some Ghana time if you can. The house I am building should be ready by the end of the year, and I welcome all of you to feel the joy I experience when I am here.
Please contact me with any questions or concerns. And once again, thank you so very ,very much!