Years ago I started an experimental humanitarian missions project.
What would the effect be, to divert a small amount of my wealth as an American to an ordinary citizen of Africa? Someone who wasn't going to win any awards, or even get noticed. Deserving, but not in a way that would attract the attention of international agencies or megacharities.
In this case, I had an opportunity through a chance meeting. I had occasionally been corresponding with an ordinary high school kid online (back when ICQ and Y! allowed such random encounters, although I never initiated one), and gotten to know him a bit. He was intelligent and decent, quite skilled in English, and eager to learn about the world beyond his home town of Tamale, Ghana.
He was dirt-poor, but not starving. Based on everything I was able to learn, that is what he could expect out of life. He'd survive, but never thrive.
But schooling would not be expensive, and could make a huge impact, down the road, not just for Amin, but also for his family. He has younger siblings to whom he could pass on the blessing of education. It was worth trying.
To get into a better tertiary school (life is a little different in Ghana) was ridiculously cheap. Amin applied for and was accepted into the Tamale Polytechnic School, graduating and earning his Higher National Diploma.
And there, he got noticed ...
Amin studied Accounting Fundamentals. Based on his past academic records (mostly As) and his senior High certificate (secondary school—I told you things were different in Ghana), and his performance for the first year in the Polytechnic, he was invited into the University for Development Studies for a degree in Real Estate. (Don't confuse this with becoming a real estate agent: the course work for this is something of a mix of economics, civil engineering, population demographics, and valuation.)
And, he did well. He wasn't a straight-A student (earning much teasing from me, especially about the one C+ he tended to earn), but his grades were good, and he graduated with honors and quite high up on the class rankings.
Then he was off for a year of national service, a fascinating program in Ghana where one works for the government at less-than-enough-to-live-on. (I think of it as being paid in soap, which is not at all far off. They promised a "stipend," which turned out to be, seriously, toiletries and some rice for the year.) Amin worked for the Ghanan equivalent of the Social Security Administration, learning that most important of skills: bureaucracy.
And now? The Big Time.
His excellent work at the UDS earned him another invite: this time for a Master's in Economics (with speciality in the areas of Energy and Resource Economics) at the Kwame Nkrumah University for Science and Technology —the #2 ranked University in Ghana—in Kumasi.
And he's started. One of his professors from UDS donated a large sum (for Ghana); I helped with about the same level. Together, we had enough to get Amin enrolled and off to lectures.
But wait, there's more ...
But I'm tapped out. My own expenses have gone up, and the level of support needed in the next year is more than I can provide. I'll certainly be continuing to contribute, but I'm going to need help.
Amin's schedule can be divided into three sections:
Semester 1, through February, 2015.
Semester 2, February through August, 2015.
Internship, August through December, 2015.
To cover all the expenses, we're going to have to raise about $8,000. That's for everything except the occasional trip home to Tamale. Tuition, housing, education, office fees, food, transportation, etc. Here's how it breaks down, in US dollars:
$1,000 - Remaining Tution,
$933 - Housing (2 semesters)
$867 - Food
$1,600 - Printing / Class Fees,
$500 - Campus Medical
$533 - Campus Shuttle
$620 - Internship
$500 - Dorm Utilities
$567 - Two tours of relevant industry
$550 - Non bursary books
$667 - Thesis/Research project expenses
$8,337 - Total
Let's take some of our abundance and share it across the world, and allow Amin to finish his degree.
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