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
    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. 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.      

Monday, November 30, 2015

Computer and Internet Access Struggles for MCSOT.

     In January of 2015 Moringa Community School of Trades (MCSOT) had to make the hard choice to temporally discontinue its Satellite Internet Service for lack of available funding.  This was unfortunate but as hard as the decision was to make, meeting our rock bottom baseline $3,400 per month general operations expense had to come first.  This $3400 figure, breaks down to our monthly consumable supply costs, fuel, insurance, and utility expenses, and it also covers MCSOT’s base payroll for 15 staff members at an average of $110/month salary.  Yes you read that figure right.  We can only afford to pay our teachers (most of whom are university or technical school educated) only $110/month.  We wish this were not so but having no reliable funding stream we are not left with much of a choice.
      Anyway, as MoringaCommunity.Org USA’s 2014 total donor contributions were just $23,146 for the entire 2014 year, little funds were left in our treasury at the beginning of 2015 so deep cuts had to be made.   In hind sight, eliminating our access to the Internet for the School compound had a cascading negative effect on MCSOT’s communications and marketing capability, but when the money is just not there hard choices are called for.  
Hired tech contractors from capital trouble shoot connection.

Dapplecroft Fund to the Rescue!                   

     Fortunately in late October, funding was able to be diverted from a third quarter 2015 grant from the Philadelphia Foundation / Dapplecroft Fund to cover the cost of a low bandwidth restoration of our MCSOT Satellite Internet service.  We have three Satellite plans available to choose from.  These are the Freedom 10 plan at $106 US / month, the Freedom 15 plan at 169 us / month, and the Freedom 20 plan at $226 US / month.   Although our Freedom 10 plan has such a low bandwidth it is not that dissimilar to a dial-up connection, it has at least reconnected MCSOT with the outside world and we are grateful for it.
Students line up for there turn on MCSOT's Internet Network
      The restoration of the MCSOT Satellite Internet Service in October has proven to be a Godsend not only for the school’s staff and students, it is quickly becoming recognized as a good community asset with the younger population of the village. Ever increasing numbers of late teen and early 20’s villagers are willing to pay a small user fee to MCSOT for access to our satellite service for purposes of securing applications for secondary school, checking email, and other Internet related needs.

with this re-connection, plans are now afoot to develop an MCSOT Website through to develop an Internet presence for the Trade School in Ghana.   It is hoped that through the development of the website, MCSOT can secure more paid tuition students to better help self-fund the school.  While Internet is not commonly available in Ghana, there are a number of Internet Café’s throughout Ghana where those that can read and write can access the Internet.  We believe the literate population of Ghana to be our target sector of the population for securing more significant numbers of tuition paying students.  Currently, MCSOT is often limited to exchanges of labor, goats, or other commodities in exchange for tuition.   Such trades, although helpful, are difficult to transform into funding for actual operating expenses but all is being done to adapt and adjust.
Hard copy receipts and documents are now available to locals
 What MCSOT Could Use to Move Forward In Its Quest for Self Sustainability.  
We've already seen a good and easily accessed connection to the Internet is key to MCSOT's future. Currently there are two obstacles in the way of developing such Moringa Information Technology resources. These are lack of working computers and the current low bandwidth connection.  On the computer end, the school currently has only two working computers.  We could easily use at least 10 more PCs.  Laptops are preferred as these are the only ones practical to ship so please contact if you or anyone you know may be able to donate laptop. You can take up to a $500 in-kind deduction (with documentation of value) for such a donation but better yet, your donation will be honored and treasured by MCSOT.  
Along with a strong need for laptops, we are extremely limited on upload and download capability with our current Freedom 10 plan at $1,272 a year Internet Connection but we are hard pressed to afford anything better.  We really need to upgrade to at least the Freedom 15 plan that costs $2,028 a year and much preferably we could make even better use of the Freedom 20 plan at $2,700.  The Freedom 20 would give MCSOT enough bandwidth to open a full service Internet Café which we are confident would help a lot to fund the school. The bandwidth upgrade will depend on securing working laptops but as with everything we’ve done since 2009, all we can do is just begin and hope that some help will show up.

Please help us by donating today!
Please consider donating your old working Laptop by contacting
Also, please please consider donating toward funding a bandwidth upgrade by making a tax deductible donation by clicking DONATE.
Thank for your time to read this.  Please see key earlier (older) posts on the menu.  There is a lot of remarkable news about MCSOT within.   

Note about the New Reference to MCSOT.  Many that have followed this project since 2009 may notice our switch from MCST as the abbreviation for Moringa Community School Of Trades to the new MCSOT.   This is due to the fact that the school is hopeful to develop its own web site in 2016.  As it turns out MCSOT.ORG is the closest available domain name to match the school's name so we'll likely be running with that from here on out.  You will not find anything there as yet if you enter it into your browser but hopefully that will change in 2016.  

Saturday, November 28, 2015

What To Do With Crap?

Since 2009 Mr. Jeffry’s Third World Machine Shop (MJTWMS) has greatly improved the productivity and profitability of Ghanaian carpenters.  Since 2010 Moringa Community School of Trades (MCS0T) has enjoyed the luxury of an on-demand running water supply through construction of a Mr. Jeffry's Artesian Well Water System,(MJAWWS).   Now entering 2016, we have another technological hurtle to jump in order to further fulfill our project’s mission to help reduce the rigors of Rural African life.   To put it bluntly, this next hurtle is how to take a crap in rural Africa with a modicum of dignity in a village with no public sewer, limited water supply, and very little in way of resources and material to develop reasonable restroom facilities.

Thankfully, unlike the demands of creating our MJAWWS and MJTWMS systems where we had no existing model from which to draw, some successful research and development by others has already been done to address this 3rd world crap problem.  Our project efforts seen here are based on a system that has been gaining wide acceptance in India.  This system is the Pour Flush Toilet System that also fits well for Africa.  It is straight forward to construct, it uses a minimum amount of water, it is infinitely more hygienic and dignified to use than our earlier pit latrines, and certainly better than just ducking into the bush whenever nature calls which is more the rule than the exception in Africa.  Additionally, the waste smell is kept to a minimum an added plus is that the byproduct is useful compost that can be applied as a fertilizer and soil builder.

The Pour Flush system is best understood by viewing the line drawing shown in Fig. 1.  Basically this system is a hybrid combination of an old fashion pit outhouse and our contemporary modern day flush toilets with full on site septic system.  However, rather than wasting 4 gallons or more per flush, the pour flush requires only 1 liter (0.265 gal.) of water per flush.  This enormous reduction in water not only saves on the labor required to carry water but it also eliminates the need for the traditional western style septic tank that must be periodically pumped by a municipal waste service and subsequently taken to a sewage processing plant.  These later services do not exist in rural Ghana nor is water so freely available the people can just flush it away.  The reality is that even if municipal systems were in place and water was in able supply in Ghana, the waste product of the Pour Flush system is a far more user friendly material than typical sewage waste sludge and much easier to safely dispose of in an environmentally correct way. The by-product of a fully cycled pit is actually a relatively odorless dry dirt-like material that is useful.   

As shown, our first pour flush facility construction is nearly complete.  As this first model is a single unit, it will be a unisex facility on the MCSOT compound.  We are hopeful to secure enough funding to build a second Pour Flush unit so we can designate one unit for Girls and one for Boys on the school campus.
Ultimately, the plan is to market these units to the surrounding community for a profit that along with our other Moringa Made Products and services will help support our school’s teacher salaries and general operation expenses.  Although cost is very reasonable by western standards, it is still unfortunately high by African standards so creative marketing will have to be employed.  Currently we believe that the health, hygiene, and the dignity factor of having such a system will be a good motivator for buyers but in the end it may come down to pride in ownership and the associated status symbol of actually having a toilet in which to take a crap will drive sales.  We will see.  All we can do is try.

Among other things our school needs, we so hope sponsors will show up to help fund our second needed Pour Flush Toilet for MCSOT.  We remain hopeful we might even be able to build a few public use units in the village proper but we would be content with at least adding a second unit on the compound so fewer staff and students will have to duck into the bush for relief. 
To consider funding a system or even part of one, the complete cost breakdown per unit is as below. 

Pour Flush System Cost:
Option # 1 = $1,651 USComplete Dual Pit – Pour Flush System with a top of the line masonry brick s**t house construction.
Option # 2 = $1,220 US
Complete Dual Pit – Pour Flush System with masonry washroom foundation and wooden enclosure.
Option #3 = $1,100 US
Dual Pit – Pour Flush System with masonry washroom foundation only.  Owner to build restroom enclosure.    
We cannot do this work without at least some funding folks. Please help us out.  Please. 

MoringaCommunity.Org is an organization of unpaid volunteers.  $0.97 on every $1.00 donated goes directly to our project in West Africa.  We do not use any third party fundraising service. We never bother anyone on the phone.  We only hope those familiar with the Moringa Project will please continue to support it. . 
What do you say?  Will you lend us a hand.  We promise we washed our first. We are a proud and clean lot.