Thursday, November 17, 2016

Abu’s Video Report to Moringa Community Supporters


We were excited to have had Abu, our project cofounder, return to America in September.  During his stay, a reception and project update presentation was made in the main shop of JD Lohr Woodworking.  We are proud to present Abu’s most complete and current update on our project mission goals thus far.   Please take the time to watch our video and witness where we’ve proudly taken this remarkable educational project.

  


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Sunday, November 6, 2016

MCSOT Launches Its Own African Web Site!



Larissa & Abu develop new Phone friendly Ghana School Site
This fall the Moringa Community School of Trades (MCSOT) has proudly launched its own independent, school manged web site of www.MCSOT.ORG   The new site is intended for African access and use as well as its own in-house development over time.  

While the typical West African does not have easy access to the Internet, with the advent of the smartphone, many African families will communally own a smartphone.   Although few Africans will have a bank account, today in Africa, the smartphone is often being used for everyday financial transactions.   In some villages, people also can access the Internet by visiting the local Internet CafĂ©.   Given the expense and limited reach of print media, it was logical for us to promote the Moringa Community School of Trades on the ground in Ghana through a smartphone friendly, independent web site that is MCSOT Ghana owned and managed.  

Students work with six of our total of eight MCSOT laptops
During Abu’s late 2016 visit to America for related project development work with Jeffry and Linda Lohr, our Lohr Woodworking Studio journeyman Larissa Huff assisted Abu in developing the new www.MCSOT.ORG web site for the Moringa Community School of Trades.  While the new site was fleshed out here in the Shop in Schwenksville PA, anyone that has ever created and maintained a web site knows how much work it is. They also will  understand that any site is a constant work in progress. As our MCSOT staff become more and more knowledgeable about the new MCSOT.ORG editing platform, it is intended to grow the new Ghana site into a significant development tool for our trade school by the teachers themselves.   
LAPTOPS NEEDED !
Our Annual MCSOT-IT budget is $1,440/year which we need to raise to cover our annual remote Central Region Ghana Satellite Internet connection package fees as well as our new Ghana web site host expenses.  This cost does not include any funding for laptops and software for which we rely on donations of functioning used laptops and outdated smartphones from thoughtful USA project supporters.  Please consider donating your functioning laptop with operating system to Moringa Community. Org.  We also are in desperate need of a good quality, all-in-one scanner/copier/printer for our Breman Baako version of Kinkos housed at MCSOT.  Yes African's need copies made from time to time as well folks so please help us provide a local resource for this service to the village and community we serve in Ghana.   
While we are always (and I do mean always) desperate for cash,  if you do have a laptop or other useful IT equipment such as used smartphones or other, please contact Jeffry Lohr at JeffryLohr@aol.com  for donation and shipping details.  

Thanks to all who have remained with us on this project.  Please click here if you wish to donate.

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

A Scholarship Program For MCSOT

By Martha Bruch and Jeffry Lohr

   Vocational training programs at Moringa Community School of Trades (MCSOT) started in 2010 as the concrete was still curing on its main school building.  In the first years of operation, attending students were the children of parents that had volunteered their labor to help build the school with MCSOT honoring its promise to educate the teenagers of volunteers for free in exchange for their sweat equity.  Thus in its first four years of operation, MCSOT students were not charged tuition to attend the school.  The operating costs, including teacher salaries in those early years, were funded by private donation to the US 501C3 charity MoringaCommunity.org.
    When tuition was not required, the school was popular and successful, with over 75 girls and 50 boys completing at least one program from 2010 to 2012 (some students completed more than one program).  However, to be sustainable, it is very clear that the school must charge a tuition in order to pay teacher salaries and other general  operating costs of MCSOT.  The truth is that the school has had difficulty making the transition to tuition-based enrollment.  Clearly the school needs enough paying students to keep the cost per student affordable, but even a small tuition is beyond the means of most of the local Ghanaians.  Consequently, enrollment for 2016 has diminished so significantly that MCSOT struggles to generate enough income to pay teachers even a basic wage.  The absence of guaranteed salary money has made it very difficult to recruit and retain teachers, which in turn adversely affects the ability of MCSOT to attract students.  This self-perpetuating cycle has made it extremely difficult for the school to gain traction in its quest to be self-supporting. 


     What we believe is needed to break this negative cycle, is a need-based scholarship program.  If enough supporters of MoringaCommunity.Org would help fund such a program through annual tax deductible charitable giving, such a program could be implemented. Applications would be submitted to MCSOT, which would screen the applicants, choose the recipients based on need and abilities, and award the scholarships. These scholarships would have a multitude of positive outcomes.  First, they would provide education and job training for more women, affording them opportunities to work in fields other than agriculture, including occupations that are traditionally performed almost exclusively by men, such as carpentry and kente weaving.  Secondly, the scholarships would provide MCSOT with a stable, predictable source of income, which would enable higher and more stable teacher salaries.  This would greatly assist with recruiting and retaining teachers at MCSOT, both for the skills training programs and the core secondary education courses.  Consequently, providing scholarships to MCSOT would provide a means to expand the secondary education programs by attracting more teachers, so this indirectly represents a community program to recruit and train volunteers to teach in short-staffed rural schools. 
     Providing need-based scholarships would also provide long term benefits as the dividends from investment in education continue to multiply over time.  Both full and partial scholarships would be offered, with the full scholarships reserved for girls. Full scholarships would include the equipment and supplies necessary for individuals to start a business based on the skills obtained   For example, a girl completing the carpentry and machinery program would have access to securing a portable Mr. J's Third World Machine Shop or a loom and supplies would be available upon completion of the kente and bamboo weaving progam. Likewise, canning jars would be made available to students completing the canning and catering program. This approach has already resulted in success stories; several women students were able to start their own catering business after receiving training in canning and catering.

MoringaCommunity.org believes that enabling women to start their own businesses is key to breaking the cycle of poverty in the third world.  Women hold families together and are more likely to spend money on family needs over personal needs.
Please help us make a difference and donate to MoringaCommunity.Org today.  As our US 501C3 is an organization of unpaid volunteers, be confident that at least $0.96 on every $1.00 donated goes in full to supporting the programs illustrated on this blog entry.  Even our volunteers donate as the need is so great.  

This a a darn good project folks and does not deserve to tank for want of a truly modest $48,000 total in annual subsidy funding needs.
Much of its own operating expenses are indeed generated by MCSOT itself but like most schools throughout the world, they do need at lease some basic subsidy funding.   
  As of the date of this release we are still over 20% short of our 2015 funding goal.   Please help.  Be confident you won't find a charity anywhere that would be more personally and genuinely grateful and where your charity dollar will be stretched so very far.