Tools for Schools Africa presents annual Shine! event

The event will take place on Sept. 24th at 7 p.m. at the Harvest Centre on the Westerner grounds in Red Deer.

In addition to lovely jewellery, accessories and a visit from Ghanaian Sophia Dauda, the annual Tools for Schools Africa Foundation fundraiser will also feature a variety of artwork this year.

The event will take place on Sept. 24th at 7 p.m. at the Harvest Centre on the Westerner grounds in Red Deer. Tickets are $35 each or five for $150 and can be purchased online at www.tfs-africa.org under the Shine! category. Tickets can also be purchased by phoning Lyn at 403-314-4911 or Wendy at 403-347-7285.

“The evening is a fundraiser to support girls’ and young women’s education in northern Ghana. We do what we do because we truly believe that educating women and young girls is so key to helping people in developing nations succeed, and to get out of a cycle of poverty,” explained fundraising co-chair Susan Knopp.

“The last two years it’s been down at Festival Hall but we’ve outgrown that space and we’ve moved onto the Harvest Centre. We’ve got lots of activities and merchandise for the evening.”

Merchandise including scarves, fine jewellery, handmade jewellery, gently used art and various silent auction items will be available throughout the evening. Each year a guest comes from Ghana to speak with attendees and share stories of their involvement with Tools for Schools Africa.

“We have Sophia Dauda coming from Africa, and I think our guests are always a highlight of the event. We heard that from many people last year when Gabriella Wumnaya (a coordinator in the Ghanaian charity) was here and spoke at the event. Her message at the event was something that I think really made people believers in Tools for Schools Africa, if they weren’t already before,” said Knopp.

Dauda recently graduated from the Catholic University College of Ghana with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Economics and Business Administration and Management.

Prior to this, her family struggled and adjusted to bring her an education. Without Tools for Schools Africa, she would not have been able to attend post-secondary.

“It’s very powerful for our event guests to hear the stories and the struggles and the lives of the women we are sponsoring. They hear about the struggles these women face to get an education,” Knopp added.

Lyn Goertzen, chair of the organization, said that due to the sponsorship of the community for catering and space, the organization is able to make the most of their donation to the Ghanaian girls.

“A lot of our expenses have actually been donated and covered by people in the community – we have very little overhead because we have such a generous support from the community. We have a lot of people who support us so that our expenses are very minimal for this event, and that way nearly everything we make here goes directly to the girls.”

In June, the girls who have gone through the program in Ghana are invited to re-connect over a weekend at their own Shine! event. Goertzen said that for many girls, this is an exciting part of the program and many enjoy the mentorship aspect of the weekend.

“Every post-secondary girl attended Shine! this year. They came from far and wide to come for the weekend event. It’s a great venue for conversation about our expectations of the girls and also for their input of what they would like from us, and how the program is working,” she said.

“It’s nice that this is something that the girls look forward to – becoming a mentor to the younger girls. The older girls talk to the girls coming up and give them some hope for the future of what the younger girls could accomplish in their life. They do career counseling and work out a lot of options for the young ones so the girls are able to see a future for themselves.”

Tools for Schools Africa Foundation provides scholarship programs and sponsors the costs of education for up to 75 girls, from primary school through high school years. Additionally, they are currently supporting/have supported 17 young women through post-secondary.

The proceeds collected from the Canadian Shine! event go towards these scholarship programs, and help to cover the costs of admission, uniforms, shoes, supplies and sometimes housing for the girls.

kmendonsa@lacombeexpress.com