|SISTA Scholar Program|
In 2007, BaBa Blankets™ began the Stay-In-School Tuition Assistance (SISTA) Program to help girls from Ghana's rural northern areas complete their secondary school education (high school). We've found that an overwhelming number of these girls can't afford to attend beyond the junior secondary school level (middle school). Today, there are tens of thousands of these northern girls in Ghana's urban centers, searching for menial jobs such as load carrying. Without the opportunities that a formal education offers, the cycle of poverty is destined to continue for them and their families.
In April 2011, we established SISTAWorks, Inc., a non-profit 501(c)(3)
tax-exempt organization. SISTAWorks mission is to invest in women's
entrepreneurship and girls' education to transform marginalized
long as any women or girls remain on the margins, we believe that we are
missing vital components of our society. Educated girls will birth
healthier communities. To this end, SISTAWorks is committed to
furthering the SISTA Scholar program. Entrepreneurial exchange,
cross-cultural connectedness and educational advancement are the
cornerstones on which we base our work. The SISTA Scholar program is
funded by contributions from donors like you and all donations are fully
tax-deductible. Proceeds from the sale of BaBa Blanket™ products are also used to support the program.
We select our SISTA Scholars based on the courageous academic drive and personal vision that inspires them to excel beyond their current circumstances. We believe that this educational support will help empower these amazing young women to manifest even more of their own greatness, as well as that within their own communities. Currently, there are 50 students in our SISTA Scholar program. Each of our scholars receive full tuition, supplies and dorm essentials required for Ghana's public boarding schools. Depending on their grade, school fees and supplies range from $215-$395 per year for each girl. Our goal is to increase our sponsorship to 100 students by 2013.
Here are some of our current SISTA Scholars, their stories and appreciations.
Throughout elementary school, Janet was ranked 1st in her class. Only after losing her father and experiencing her family slip into financial distress did Janet move to 3rd in her class. While her mother struggled as a farm hand to provide for her and her siblings, she often felt embarrassed to have only nuts to bring to school for lunch. For awhile, Janet felt consumed by grief. A teacher noticed the sudden change and helped Janet to return her focus to her education. It took Janet three years but she told us proudly how she ultimately regained her ranking as 1st in her class. She envisions herself obtaining the highest level of education possible and a career that would empower her to make a difference in her community.
Esther lost both of her parents to an undiagnosed illness when she was about 3 years old. Though her sister Dorcas is only 5 years older, she knew enough to emphasize the importance of them continuing their education despite their circumstances. Together, Dorcas & Esther took odd jobs to feed themselves and to pay their primary and junior secondary school fees. When a chieftaincy dispute erupted and a curfew was imposed in their village, Dorcas & Esther fled to a nearby town to sleep in a kiosk so that they could continue going to school. It was not until Esther reached the secondary school level that they found the required fees to be much more than what they could earn washing dishes and making clay pots. Though Dorcas is unable to contribute financially to Esther's education, she continues to be one of Esther's greatest advocates. She says that Esther is the "more clever one between us two" and she believes that she will achieve much more than anyone in their family has thus far. Esther tells us that she wants to become a nurse.
Comfort lost her mother to an illness about two years ago. Her father is a farmer but he suffers from a malady that makes it difficult for him to walk. Comfort is the 5th born of 7 children. She has three brothers and three sisters. Comfort's family calls her the "eye" of the family, the one that they expect will eventually "raise the family up". They say that if she falls, then the entire family will fall. Comfort's siblings look up to her as the one who loves books and school. She often used the money that she earned selling firewood to provide food for her brothers and sisters. As she neared the end of junior high school and learned of the costs involved for her to continue to secondary school, she asked her auntie, "When the time comes, who will pay for me?" Her auntie answered, "Just keep learning and maybe God will pay for you." Comfort enjoys telling cultural stories with messages that can change peoples lives. She plans to become a doctor one day and to find a cure to help her father.
Nafisah is starting her first year in secondary school. She is from a village called Zabugu in Bawku, the central region of Ghana. Her mother was an elderly tomato trader. Her father is a farmer. Her parents have six children and Nafisah is the youngest. One day when Nafisah was at school with her older brother, she asked him for a pencil. Her brother threw the pencil to her and it inadvertently hit Nafisah in the eye. Subsequently, she lost all vision in her right eye. This injury has brought many educational challenges for Nafisah. She tries to ease her learning process by sitting in the front of the class. She declares that her eye injury will not stop her from reaching her goals. She uses her perseverance throughout her blindness as proof that she will continue to further her education no matter what obstacles are thrown in her path. Nafisah is studying to become a medical doctor.
Sawdatu begins secondary school this year. She is the first born of three, with one younger brother and sister. Her mother and father were both millet farmers. Her mother died when she was six. A few years later, her father lost his vision in a car accident. Sawdatu grew up to realize that farming the family's small plot of land would only produce enough to feed her and her siblings. It would not be enough to provide for her education.
Monica is attending her first year in secondary school. She is from Navrongo, in the upper east region of Bolgatanga. Both her mother and father passed away before she made 10 years old. She and her siblings were raised by her Aunt and Grandmother. They trade peppers and tomatoes.