Case studies > Charities in the Spootlight

Porridge & Pens

Porridge and Pens

The area we work is called Mampongteng, it is a remote area of Ghana. It is a new and developing area where many families have moved to because they cannot afford to pay the cost of renting near the centre of Kumasi. As the area is so rural, the area where we work is not easily accessible, the roads are very poor and food production is low. Over 90% of adults in the area are traders, selling palm oil or water on the streets. A handful of adults have more skilled jobs such as Shoe Makers, Hairdressers or Seamstresses.

To deliver our work in the local community we have enrolled 106 children to the Brightlingsea school - Ghana. All children are given two healthy meals a day to maintain a healthy weight and diet. Porridge and Pens identified the age group most vulnerable to all these problems in the area to be 0-11 years old. There are two local orphanages and most children belong to this age group. Parents easily give up their children because of the disabilities, lack of food and the cost of education. Porridge and Pens works to reduce child abandonment and ensure families are supported to look after their children.

By far our biggest success is raising the funds to build an infant and primary school in Ghana, something we started doing without registered charity status. I did this with my two sisters when we were all still in full time education.

We now have over 100 children registered at our school, called the Brightlingsea School – after the town I grew up in. These 100 plus children are all supported by our feeding programme, they are tested and treated for HIV and Hep B and supported through their education. It’s crazy to think that if our school wasn’t there, the children would be selling items on the street to raise money for their families, now their families can send them to school, knowing their children will be fed.

Running a small charity is not glamourous, there have been many challenges along the way: finding suitable volunteers to help; getting hardworking trustees; raising the funds to keep our charity going, while being a full-time school teacher!

When I first started the charity, I was adamant that I could juggle working full time with managing the charity efficiently and maximising opportunities. After six months of not much sleep I realised something had to give. This was when I decided to ask if I could go part time at work and although the charity is not at a stage to pay me a wage, I am able to juggle more and take back a bit of me time.

Having more time has given me more opportunities to ask people for help as well, so I have a great team of volunteers. One piece of advice I would give to charities in a similar position is – if you don’t ask you don’t get, this is the same with volunteers. Most people are more than happy to help if you show them their time is vital to the work of the charity. People who are close to you will often just want to help you, even without being as passionate as you are about your charity.

For us, the next step is to work closely with the small charities commission, as we are growing at such a rapid pace I want to work with those who have experienced this growth, been there and got the t- shirt. for me the road ahead involves lots of learning, begging, borrowing and stealing. In the future, I hope Porridge and Pens can build more schools in rural parts of Ghana and put more feeding programmes in place – delivering our mission to even more children, because no child should go to school hungry.

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