Thursday, May 30, 2013
The Senase Project
Back in 2011, after a group of students from Semester At Sea had the chance to visit Senase in Ghana, Africa, they came back to Buffalo with a mission. While they visited a small village named Akatim, they found out there were hundreds of kids there with no access to education. Though they spent a short time with the community in Akatim, they were changed by what they saw, and shortly after began The Senase Project.
Since the trip in 2011, volunteers from The Senase Project have made additional trips to Africa to meet with local leaders and educators and find out what they could do to help. The result, a plan to build a new school and provide the resources educators need to help the children of the village.
The enthusiasm and clear passion for the mission gained them a big name supporter, Desmond Tutu, who has worked with the Senase Project to obtain grants and other funding to begin the work. The Buffalo community has also been extremely supportive of the organization as well as family and friends of the founder/Board members.
Currently, three functioning classrooms are up and running at the current school location while work finishes up on the new school. When completed, the new school will help facilitate educational programming for over 120 students from Kindergarten to 11th grade. They hope to have work on the new school completed by the end of September 2013.
The Senase Project volunteers don’t have plans of stopping once the school is finished. They have already outlined their second project, a new medical clinic. The medical clinic will be a much larger undertaking with a considerably bigger budget than the school. They already have a plot of land where the clinic will go, but are taking the planning stages slowly so they make sure they get it right.
The clinic will be a major improvement for the village. The current medical clinic serves about 10,000 residents and is a considerable distance away from the village center, making it difficult to get to, especially for those very ill. Medical resources are very limited and while they currently do the best with what they have, there is great need for improvement.
“Our mission is to empower a community and provide them with the resources to help improve the quality of life.” Sophie Herrman, Marketing Director for The Senase Project told me.
What impresses me most about this small, grassroots organization, is that the majority of the founders and Board members are still in school. They are an extremely passionate and young team with a lot of ideas and a great set of goals and plans to improve life in Senase.
"Our immediate goal is to improve the quality of life in Senase and provide them with the resources they need, but we hope in 5-10 years that we can say we have helped additional villages in Africa."
The organization relies on private donations and they are currently running a "UFunded" campaign to raise money for the school in Akatim. Check out their fundraising page, HERE, and if you can, support the drive!
You can stay in the loop on the progress for the school and other upcoming projects and fundraisers by checking out The Senase Project on Facebook and Twitter too.
Education has been a hot topic in Buffalo and throughout New York State for the past few years with budget cuts, state testing and limited government funding. While these challenges are incredibly hard to work with here, there are millions of children who don't know what the inside of a classroom is like and have never been to "school".
I'm looking forward to seeing where The Senase Project goes next and am so proud of the students who have been working to "Pay It Forward" and make a difference in the lives of others!