Long time, no blog!
In November, I celebrated my two year anniversary of my return from Benin. It doesn’t feel like two years have passed – it still feels like I “just” got back in some ways. In other ways, it feels light-years away. I now have a “real job” at a small nonprofit working with people who are homeless. It’s very rewarding and honestly Peace Corps did prepare me well for a work environment where you never quite know what will happen from day to day. But that’s not what this blog is about.
Some of you know that I was fortunate to be able to take a trip back to Benin in August of 2014. It was great to go back and see everyone again. Not much had changed in the 10 months I was gone, and it felt like going home in some ways.
On that trip, I was able to meet the Peace Corps Volunteer who is now posted at my former site. His name is Stacer; we have stayed in touch since then and he has kept me updated on the community and what he is doing.
He has taken on an ambitious project that is driven by the community: helping them build two more classrooms and two female latrines at the secondary school so that more grades can be accommodated and more girls can stay in school.
(I admit that I considered a classroom-building project during my service but I was intimidated by the enormity of the fundraising that would need to be done and elected not to do it. It is definitely a need, though.)
The community is contributing 25% of the funds, mostly in the form of donated labor and resources, and Stacer is trying to raise the other 75%.
He has already raised over $6,000 but he still needs a little over $3,000 to complete the project and time is running out as he will complete his service in August and it will take about 5 months to build.
The total left to raise is now $3,327.
They cannot start building until the funding is complete.
So, this is my Hail Mary for Stacer and the community that still means so much to me, even two years later. Please, if you can afford to make a donation of any size, please consider it. It would truly make a huge difference in the lives of students in rural Benin, who are trying SO hard to succeed.
Here is the link to donate: https://donate.peacecorps.gov/donate/project/classrooms-for-equality/
Please share this far and wide!
Also: if you know any business owners who might be interested in contributing, I would be most grateful if you could share this with them or connect us and I would be happy to talk with them! We need to raise this $3,300 quickly.
All donations are 100% tax-deductible and will go directly to construction costs at the school.
Below are Stacer’s own words, describing the project in detail.
This year, the community and I have been working together to address the need of a greater access to education in Assanté. Our one and only secondary school can only offer grades 6-9 due to a lack of classrooms—this year there are roughly 530 students and only ten classrooms and three latrines.
This need only scratches the surface, however, of a much greater issue. After completing the 9th grade, students must go to the neighboring towns and cities to complete high school, which is often a very serious financial burden for their families. In addition to the costs of raising a family in Assanté, parents must also pay for tuition, school materials, uniforms, lodging, and food for their child who must live elsewhere.
Unfortunately, families rarely have the means to meet these needs and must often choose between their children when deciding whom to send to finish high school—and more often than not, it is the daughters of Assanté who must delay, and even abandon their education, sacrificing their academic success for their brothers.
Our solution to this need is a project called Classrooms for Equality, which has been partially funded by Michelle Obama’s Let Girls Learn initiative.
Our construction project will include two classrooms, and two female latrines to facilitate the addition of the final years of high school, all while highlighting gender-equality on campus and in the community.
As the construction takes place the school will host community-led workshops on children’s rights, gender-based violence, feminine hygiene, hand washing, and proper sanitation practices, as well as a community-construction day where students will bring their families to contribute alongside one another.
By localizing grades 10-12, more brothers and sisters, who may otherwise have been held short of their opportunity to success, can complete high school together in their community.
Being so far away from my first home, it’s easy to remember that which I miss and am grateful for. And it is with ease that I say that I am thankful to know each and every one of you. May your holidays be filled with love and peace.
Enfants du Bénin debout.
Thank you so much for reading and sharing this! I know that we will be able to raise the rest of the funds and make the students’ dream of having enough classrooms for everyone a reality. Here is the link one more time: https://donate.peacecorps.gov/donate/project/classrooms-for-equality/