Paul Presents: ATE with Sarah Gardner and Sally Breech

In February 2012, Sarah Gardner, a primary school teacher, was granted a sabbatical from her job to spend a year working for Voluntary Services Overseas (VSO). Posted to Lawra – a remote area of Upper West Ghana close to the border of Burkina Faso, Sarah found it very remote and very hot. Her role was as a Teacher Support Officer, tasked with improving standards in 96 primary schools.

The UN Human Development Report 2010, describes Lawra as a community with chronic food shortages and 100% poverty incidence. As a result of this, Sarah’s isolated house was always surrounded by children. She built relationships with these children and their families, learning about the needs of the community, listening to local people and creating trusting friendships.

During a much-needed holiday, Sarah told her family about the situation in Lawra and they in turn immediately offered to do everything possible to help. By the end of October, Action Through Enterprise (ATE) had been born and Sarah decided not to return to teaching. ATE is a UK registered charity, and a registered NGO in Ghana, working specifically in Lawra, to address some of the issues Sarah had identified through her work.

Already ATE has achieved fantastic results in improved attendance of hundreds of school children through the provision of free school meals and enabled small business owners to continue to gain new skills and make greater profits to support themselves and their families year-round. We are also immensely proud to make it possible for families with disabled children to overcome isolation and discrimination, and find renewed strength to raise their children to fulfil their potential.

A harrowing tale of Sarah’s experiences and what led her to take the action she has taken, Sarah talks about her time in Lawra and what she has been doing to help.