Blessed Mount Mary's school has been a big part of my life and the business for many years, its partly what inspired me to return to Ghana after my first visit in 2008 and I never knew then, that it would take me onto a path which would entwine Ghana into my life and lead to the creation of Ashanti Empress!
My first visit to the school in 2008
Ever since Ashanti Empress was created in 2015 we have always been determined to recognise and give back to the community in Ghana in which we operate. We have aimed to do this in a number of ways; through ensuring fair wages, reliable work contracts and training opportunities for the tailors we work with but also through donating 10% of profits to a local school in the area. Blessed Mount Mary's was an obvious choice as we had already seen how a small investment could go a long way.
Interview with the Headteacher and owner - Richard Obiri Yeboah
Throughout the past 6 years, thanks to you buying our clothing, we have been able to provide sponsorship to 18 pupils from low income families throughout their education at Blessed Mount Mary's school. This has taken the pressure off parents who were struggling to pay the termly school fees and buy materials such as books and pens. We were also able to invest in building two new classrooms which became the Junior High School (JHS) department, enabling the primary students to further their education at the same school. Finally, we had also begun work on a new toilet and shower block and were partway through this project when the decision was taken to close the school.
One of the families who benefitted from our sponsorship programme
The last few years have been hard for many people around the world. COVID-19 hit hard and various Government policies to combat the spread of the disease have made a lasting impact on economies. At the beginning of the outbreak the Ghanaian government closed all schools indefinitely to stop the spread and this resulted in children's education being on pause for a year. Lots of school's in Ghana are private, including Mount Mary's, and with very little Government financial aid throughout the pandemic there was a very damaging impact. When schools reopened the attendance at Mount Mary's had more than halved to less than 50 pupils, some of the teachers had found new jobs and it was very difficult to restart although they did try!
It brings so much sadness to our hearts that this year the Head Teacher and owner, Richard Obiri Yeboah has taken the very hard decision to close the school and it finally shut its doors in September.
Break-time at Blessed Mount Mary's
Although the school has closed we will continue to financially support the further education of two former students, Rahannah Mustaphah and Emmanuel Tuffour (the son of Yaw N'safoah and Mama Ester who make our patchwork) as they complete their studies in college.
Social responsibility is at the heart of Ashanti Empress and we firmly believe in investing in the community we operate within. We are totally open to your ideas for a new cause to support in Ghana and we will be looking into this more on our next trip, early in 2022.
Frederica working hard in the classroom