Before Cale and I left Seattle, I applied for this awesome nonprofit startup called The Wandering Samaritan (TWS). TWS connects travelers with donor money to use on good deeds while traveling. I went through an application process, complete with letters of recommendation from friends and co-workers (thank you Kate and Hester!), and was approved to be a part of TWS. Basically the way it works is that if Cale and I see something or someone that could use funding while we travel, we run it by TWS and they have the final say on whether or not to fund the project.
In Ghana, we were able to settle in and explore enough to be able to find two projects! The first was JayNii Streetwise Foundation.
JayNii is a school and orphanage located in the Jamestown neighborhood of Accra, on the beach. Started by a local couple, Jay and Nii, they provide housing for 25 street kids, and schooling for 50. They would like to be able to provide more classrooms and housing for the rest of their students so that’s one of the things they will likely add in the future.
They get some funding by performing (Jay and Nii are both performers, and they teach drumming and dancing to the kids, who perform around Ghana), and some from local churches. Some funding also comes from a bar that that they run on their property.
Alex volunteers weekly at JayNii, providing tutoring for the kids, and he also helps out with bartending when needed. We planned to be in Jamestown for a festival and realized that one way we could help with TWS funds was to provide the beverages for JayNii during the festival, when they would have more bar customers than normal. JayNii could then keep 100% of the bar sales, rather than just the profits on each drink. TWS approved our project immediately and we were able to purchase the drinks.
We arrived early the day of the festival and got ready to help with the bartending (ahem, did I mention I have my certificate of mixology? Worst money I’ve ever spent). Luckily, Alex invited all of his teacher friends so we had a great crowd there to support JayNii and also have fun at the beach. Everyone was being extremely generous and paying more than the normal drink cost because the funds were all going to a great cause.
All in all, we were able to turn TWS funds of $80 into about $325 to go to JayNii to use however they please. It was a fantastic event, and Cale and I got to hang out at the beach, dance with the kids, and experience the Chale Wote art festival as well. More importantly, the festival brought a number of people to the bar who were unaware of it previously, so repeat business there may be even more valuable to JayNii.
Project number two was with DUNK, which I wrote about previously. The only problem with DUNK was that we wanted to donate more money than we could! They have need for basketball shoes, socks (the kids share these since most of them don’t have their own), school supplies, money for a school tutor, jerseys, basketballs, etc. We sat down with Emmanuel and Deborah (youth President) and Salim (youth VP) to brainstorm all the items that DUNK could use, then we ran the items by TWS to see how much we could get approved. The most exciting idea was for a basketball hoop – the kids have use of one full sized court, and one concrete slab that doesn’t have two hoops to practice with. I got the approval and traveled to the side of the road… as I mentioned, that’s where you buy everything around here… and handed over the funds.
A friend of DUNK transported our new hoop and we set it up with the kids, who immediately started playing with it. Thank you, TWS!