I am genuinely so pleased with and excited about how this project is progressing, and as people with good news generally do, I wish to share it. Here are the updates on our progress:
1) I have now heard back from Carrie Brown, an American ex-pat I met in Ho, Ghana the last time I was there. Carrie runs an organization in the region in which Patience and Richard live, and her organization works to promote the rights of persons with intellectual disabilities (PWIDs). Carrie has expressed to me that not only does she take care of many children for whom a wheelchair could do wonders, but she also knows several children who would benefit from surgeries that would increase their mobility. For example, one child with spina bifida needs corrective surgery on his feet in order to walk. So there is potential for this project to develop in order to raise money for this type of procedure as well as for mobility equipment. Ultimately, it would be ideal if we could do both, but I will have to see how things progress. For now, Carrie has been helping me determine where to buy the wheelchairs and how much each will cost. I think as of now our best option is to buy them in Accra so we do not have to worry about shipping and customs, and additionally, we can get the children fitted for them first. I am beyond thrilled to have made this connection with Carrie’s organization and am looking forward to rallying support so we can get these children (and adults) what they need.
2) I have been doing all sorts of investigating into the complicated legal options for channeling the donations we will raise. My main goal is to be as transparent as possible and allow donors the security of knowing exactly how their donations will be used. I’ve talked to several professors and lawyers who have been trying to help me determine the best path, but I am meeting with a clinical law professor from Notre Dame’s law school next week. He runs a clinic that helps local people set up non-profits and businesses for free, and when I reached out to him, his response was overwhelmingly supportive and positive. This project is really increasing my faith in the goodwill of people. Anyhow, we are meeting to determine whether we can find an umbrella organization with non-profit status in which to funnel the donations or if I should go ahead and go the non-profit route myself. It’s an incredibly complicated process, but if I start now and have the help of a team of law students, it might actually be possible. I will report after the meeting, as our next big step is setting up some sort of account so we can actually begin to raise money for the cause.
3) My cousin, Colin, with whom I traveled to Ghana in the summer of 2013, is on board again for this summer. This is probably the best news I have to report, as Colin was and will be an incredibly crucial piece of making this project come together. I’m so lucky to have him as my cousin/twin/friend. Moreover, I am so fortunate to have so many family members providing support and advice on all the steps of this project, from my mom’s undying encouragement to my dad’s fierce idealism to my aunt Mary Rita’s sage advice on all things practical and non-profit to my grandma’s eagerness to share this project with her incredible network of clients to my uncle Dennis’ passion for social justice and all things dignified.
Right, folks, well that’s all for now. Sometimes I still have small doubts, which is healthy I suppose, but the pieces are really starting to come together, and wow do they make a coherent whole.