Yo Ghana! faces the additional challenge of having a mission statement that doesn't lend itself to bumper stickers or sound bites. We facilitate "transformative exchanges" between students in Ghana and the Pacific Northwest that emphasize partnership--friendships and understanding nurtured through the thoughtful exchange of letters. This takes a great deal of time and care, gifts of hours not money. That said, keeping the letters moving requires some money, and we also support some very worthy projects at our Ghana schools. But the projects are more subtle than sexy. We aren't claiming to "Save the Children" or "Feed the World."
Thoughtful development requires humility and caution, a deep respect for what people are already doing for themselves. We are not in the business of feeding people or even building schools. Rather, we provide partial scholarships to families who are donating their time to strengthen their schools, and if a school builds walls for new classrooms, we are interested in helping with the roof.
Aside from personal friends and family of board members and other volunteers, we have found that two types of people are likely to support us. People who leave places where poverty is common are often bombarded by requests from family members and friends for support, so they quickly become adept at giving in a way that will inspire local initiative. Returned Peace Corps Volunteers who have spent years immersed in places where social structures are strong and material resources modest also appreciate the power of judicious and collaborative giving. You don't have to have grown up in a village where food and education could not be taken for granted or have been in the Peace Corps to get excited about donating to us. But it helps if you think carefully about how to give in a way that will be likely to help people in the long run.
Like most of us, I don't like asking people for money. I have overcome that reluctance by working with the rest of our board and volunteers to create an organization with virtually no overhead that funds projects that reward local initiative. Our board donates about half of the money needed to link our thirty-some schools and two thousand students and provide some modest grants for our Ghana partners. If you can help us with that other 50 percent, please click on the "Donate" button on our home or donate page, or e-mail us.