Tickets are currently on sale for the Susan Lankai Debrah Educational Foundation and its inaugural Taste of Ghana fundraiser, set for June 13.
At the event, guests can expect to enjoy Ghanaian delicacy, a raffle drawing, music and mingling.
The Susan Lankai Debrah Foundation, according to its website, works to help equip junior high school students at Osu Presbyterian Girls Middle School with the materials and resources needed to facilitate a world class 21stcentury learning environment.
The school has its challenges.
“It has some specific capital issues,” said Joyce Debrah-Sheppard, president and co-founder of the Susan Lankai Debrah Foundation. “The resources in the facility and the condition of the facility, there’s some things that need some improvement.”
Organizers said the goal is to raise between $8,000 and $10,000 to pay for flooring and white board installation.
The project, once completed, will serve as the fourth project undertaken by the foundation.
The foundation’s Board of Directors has taken several trips to Ghana to complete service projects in the past.
Debrah-Sheppard said that seeing the students during the foundation’s first trip, which took place in August of 2017, particularly tugged at her heart.
“They were taking an exam that was going to determine what high school they would be able to go to,” she said. “Instead of having a desk where they could focus, they were sitting on church pews that the church had discarded.”
A short time later, the foundation raised money and received a generation donation to help support the building of 100 desks for students.
The junior high school has approximately 130 girls.
“It’s really an opportunity to engage with the foundation,” Debrah-Sheppard said, referring to the fundraiser. “Stakeholders, they’ll learn more about the school, about the girls, and about the impact of aesthetics on academic performance.”
The students who’ve benefitted from the foundation’s contributions have yet to graduate from high school or make plans for post-secondary education, but Debrah-Sheppard said the foundation “hopes to be supporting their collegiate endeavors.”
The foundation hopes to make that possible in different ways.
For example, the foundation took students on a college visit of Ashesi University during August of 2017.
“We were able to take 30 of their highest performing students to the college,” Debrah-Sheppard said. “They absolutely loved it. We hope that providing that exposure on a regular basis will only increase the number of students, especially female students in that region, that want to go to college.”
The foundation received a generous anonymous donation and raised funds by way of friends, family and social media to make its efforts possible in the past.
Debrah-Sheppard said that getting people to support the cause makes more of a difference than they may realize.
“I think our future leaders have an opportunity to come from all sorts of places,” Debrah-Sheppard said. “There are a good number of African students that arrive in Chicago, specifically because we do have a large Ghanaian population, and they become future leaders.”
Organizers hope the fundraiser draws between 125 and 150 guests.
“We can build up a cadre of monthly subscribers or monthly donators to raise funds for the school,” Debrah-Sheppard said.
Tickets are available for advance purchase until June 9, and the cost is $65 per person. Tickets will not be sold at the door.
Event organizers want the fundraiser to be family-friendly. For every ticket paid in full, guests can bring one child under age 7 for free or purchase a ticket for $20 for youth ages 17 and younger.
For information or to make a donation, visit educateghana.com.
If you go…
What: Taste of Ghana fundraiser
Where: Hyde Park Art Center—The Pond Room, 5020 South Cornell Avenue, in Chicago
When: 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.