This past year, Talents Empowered created opportunities for education, healthcare, and spiritual development. The 2019 Annual Report highlights the past year and shows what is on the minds of stakeholders for 2020.
Throughout 2019 we better defined our focus on women and girls, orphans, and widows in low-income countries. This led us to expand and improve the scholarship program in both Liberia and Tanzania. In addition, we began improving the quality of the partnerships we have with organizations and individuals. Key points for the year were adding new team members from Liberia and Tanzania, improving how we communicate with stakeholders, and developing our organizational capacity.
Thank you for being a part of this nonprofit and supporting the mission. We hope you find this report informative and joyful.
- The Talents Empowered Team
Where does our focus come from?
When traveling through a low-income country, while there are many things that bring you joy, there are also many things that can be disheartening. To fully understand our focus in 2019, let us tell a story of a girl in Sub-Saharan Africa; a story few people will hear because girls in Sub-Saharan Africa tend to have their voice muted out by others. This story is not anyone’s in particular, but the amalgamation of people we have met, stories we have heard, and, of course, data.
Let us go to Liberia where we meet Faith, a 12 year old girl who just finished Primary School (similar to finishing 5th grade in the U.S.). Faith would have finished primary school at age 11, but in 2015, all schools closed due to the Ebola epidemic. Faith’s parents live in extreme poverty and she has four other siblings, three of which are boys. Thankfully, in Liberia, public education for Primary School is free. Books, uniforms, and other miscellaneous fees are not.
Faith’s parents have just been able to afford to send all their children to a small Primary School in the town outside their village. The school lacks basic supplies such as pencils and only has a few chairs and desks that the students share. Faith is the oldest of her siblings, is extremely bright, and wants to be a doctor to help prevent another outbreak like Ebola from having such a profound impact. However, she knows that she will probably never enter a classroom again. Her parents need her help with housework, crops, and her youngest sibling who just turned one year old. Her parents also know that they can only afford to send one child to Secondary School, and due to factors like cultural traditions, they plan on sending the oldest son who is 10 years old.
With no education past the age of 12, Faith’s options in life become very limited. Marriage is the typical path for someone in Faith’s situation. If her family’s financial situation does not worsen, she will likely be able to find a husband at her own time. However, if it does worsen, her parents will explore their financial options to afford things like her younger brother’s education. Financial relief options are typically more limited in rural areas and can range from a loan from their village to receiving a wedding dowry, forcing a daughter into marriage, even as a child.
Faith’s mother wishes she could send Faith to Secondary School because she herself was a child bride, and she recognizes that education provides limitless opportunities. But she also knows what the family can afford and respects the decisions of her husband.
The story of Faith and her family is, unfortunately, common. The school enrollment rates for girls are significantly less than boys for Secondary School and drops to nearly half for higher education. This gap is being closed by dedicated organizations and individuals both within and outside of Liberia, including Talents Empowered. Child brides are common in Liberia with 9% of girls being married before 15 and 36% of girls before 18. Change regarding child brides is happening, but slowly. It is important to note that this is not the only story of a girl in Sub-Saharan Africa, there are many.
Our focus includes women and girls, orphans, and widows in low-income countries. These individuals live on the margins of society and therefore disproportionately lack opportunities for empowerment. We believe that education, healthcare, and spiritual development are some of the areas that, if supported, can lead to opportunities for empowerment and have the most impact. When these opportunities are presented to women and girls, they have risen up as leaders in their communities and countries. There is so much value in this work.
We firmly believe in creating scholarships for women, girls, and orphans to pursue education. Women who have higher educational achievement are very likely to make sure their children have high education achievement. In addition, they are in a better position to provide for their families and impact communities.
We firmly believe in creating opportunities for individuals in low income countries to start their own businesses. These individuals build up their families and their communities through their efforts.
We firmly believe in increasing vulnerable groups’ abilities to access healthcare through our support of Hope Clinic. When individuals have improved health outcomes, they are able to live healthy lives to develop and lead.
We firmly believe in supporting education for those on the margins of society, expressed through our partnerships with Angel House Orphanage and School and Amazima School.
We firmly believe in the right to practice religion freely, expressed through our support of Meidys spreading the gospel throughout Cuba.
One way we create opportunities is through scholarships. In 2019, T.E. empowered 18 female scholars and 4 male scholars from Form 1 of Primary School all the way up to the Postgraduate level. These scholars reside in Liberia and Tanzania. T.E. provides funds for their tuition, exam fees, and any other additional fees. When we give a scholarship to a student, we commit to them as a scholar for as far as they wish to go as long as we are able. We are beyond thankful to support such brilliant and dedicated minds.
One such student is Leah, a Tanzanian scholar who began pursuing her CPA in 2019 with our support. Leah grew up at Angel House Orphanage and received her degree in accounting through the support given by Talents Empowered. Leah is a role model for the children at Angel House Orphanage. Every time she visits the orphanage she inspires the children and motivates them to study and dream what they thought were impossible dreams. She is empowering future generations through her bravery, her choices, and her intellect. Leah inspires us to support more women and girls’ education, as we see how empowered women impact their surrounding community.
In Liberia, we expanded the scholarship reach through a defined partnership with Pastor Dolo, a new team member. In 2017 we began working with Pastor Dolo in Liberia to provide funds for books and uniforms for students at the Primary and Secondary School levels. Since 2018, we have increased the amount of primary and secondary school students we support in Liberia from 10 scholars to 15. We hope to improve the quality of the scholarship in 2020 through discussion and feedback with the scholars. In 2020, we will begin supporting Ruth, who is our first Liberian scholar at the University level. Ruth was one of the first Liberian scholars, and we are excited to see how she grows and is challenged through this next chapter.
Meidys’ pastor training and community outreach in Cuba, is thriving. In 2019 she branched out to reach individuals abandoned by society. Her team visits these people every two weeks, bringing food and worship to them each time.
Ommy’s safari business in Tanzania is another continued commitment. Ommy has been faithfully paying his loan and is excited to start the upcoming safari season in 2020.
The Bookers, who work with Amazima in Uganda, have continued to be rocks for the students they house. In 2019 they said goodbye for now to their daughter, Maggie, who returned to the United States for her undergraduate education.
Angel House Orphanage in Tanzania has experienced massive growth this year. Their irrigation system and greenhouse projects are flourishing, and they welcomed a new baby cow to their community!
Hope Clinic in Guinea has also grown in 2019. Jon Erickson is working hard to establish a nursing program there, and hopes to send a doctor for training in the UK soon. He will be visiting the United States in the summer of 2020 to fundraise for this project!
Top left = Joe Booker and Maggie Booker, Top middle = Hope Clinic, Top right = A.H. new calf, Bottom left = Cuba outreach, Bottom right = Ommy
FUNDS AND DISTRIBUTION
In 2019, we had a total income of $51,901.79 USD! (see Figures 1 & 2 for breakdowns).
100% of individual donations went directly to creating opportunities for empowerment. Business donations covered all of our operational expenses, which ranged from the website maintenance to Yusuph’s graduation trip to America. All excess funds are being used for the 2020 budget and new initiatives.
Figure 1 - Income
Figure 2 - Distribution
New Team Members
In 2019, we acted on the need to bring in leaders from the countries where we work. These four new members vastly improve how we connect with those we support. The fifth new member, Maddie Crowell, is a passionate volunteer in America. Read more about them below!
More Team Updates
Becky, Co-Founder & Chair, relocated her law practice to 905 Jernigan Street in Perry, GA! Moody & Associates Law Office proudly displays Talents Empowered merchandise and is a hub for T.E. meetings, events, and team bonding.
Ashley, Administrative Support and dedicated volunteer, started her Master of Business Administration degree at Columbus State University. Ashley’s studies have provided so many valuable insights to the T.E. team and we are so proud of all she has accomplished.
Mr. Carroll, Co-Founder and Board Member, has continued to be a voice of wisdom within our organization. He is an invaluable team member, solely in charge of making sure funds reach T.E. stakeholders, and Talents Empowered would not run so smoothly without him.
Emily, Co-Founder & Executive Director, started her Masters degree at the University of Westminster, studying Entrepreneurship, Innovation, and Enterprise Development in London, UK! Emily has learned so much about successful business owners already and is excited to use her new knowledge to grow Talents Empowered.
Frans, Director of Organizational Development, began his Masters degree at Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine in the UK studying International Public Health! Frans continually brings new knowledge about the needs of the countries T.E. empowers through his studies, and has grown and improved Talents Empowered immensely.
Mary Ann, Director of Finance, has brilliantly organized our donor information throughout the entire year. Her efforts have highlighted areas in which Talents Empowered could improve, and we are eager to see those improvements through in the coming year.
One relationship, seven years in the making, is our relationship with Yusuph. He has grown into a remarkable leader, from the humble origins of an orphan to an individual who not only dedicates his time to Talents Empowered, but his own personal funds to support his family (distant and near) in attending school. Yusuph embodies the passion, motivation, and giving spirit we hope to foster in every Talents Empowered student. Yusuph also graduated from law school this summer! His accomplishment is immense, and we are fiercely proud of his growth.
This year, you had the chance to meet Yusuph! Talents Empowered brought him to visit the United States to celebrate his recent graduation. During the trip we were able to train Yusuph for his new role as Scholarship Coordinator. Yusuph now recommends students to Talents Empowered for scholarship and actively works with our current scholars. Perhaps the most touching moment of Yusuph’s visit was meeting Mr. Carroll, a man who funded much of Yusuph’s education and has maintained a close online friendship with him from the start of our journey with Yusuph. Connecting Talents Empowered supporters with those we support was a highlight of our year. We hope this is something that continues and grows in the coming year!
In 2019, thanks to a few generous business donors and partnerships, we were able to invest in T.E. as a nonprofit, improving our ability to impact those we serve. We invested in a new website, advertisement, the celebration of immense successes such as Yusuph’s law school graduation, and the development of those who tirelessly work to fulfill our mission.
The Talents Empowered team has made steps towards increasing awareness throughout the Perry, GA community. We recently established a partnership with Bodega Brew and Massey Gordon in the downtown Perry area. These businesses partnered with us to help sell ornaments during the Christmas season, raising funds for orphans and vulnerable children in Africa. We are grateful for the relationship we have with these two successful Perry businesses and plan to strengthen those while creating more relationships in the coming year.
We’ve increased our online awareness and redesigned our website! If you haven’t seen it yet, check it out: talentsempowered.org. With over 300 followers on the Facebook page, we’ve seen a 166% increase from last year!
A FEW WORDS
This page is dedicated to the individuals with which we work. In 2019 they told us their thanks, hopes, worries, and future projects. Here are a few segments from those conversations.
“Hi Emily, my name is Matee k. Jallah, the mother of Priscilla and Dekehgar Jallah. My girls were among those selected by Pastor Dolo for your sponsorship. I never knew that God would have opened such an opportunity for my girls to continued their education through the grace of God, and through the intervention of the Talents Empowered family, my girls will stayed in school and graduate, I am so thankful.”
Matee Jallah, mother of two Liberian scholars, 2019
“Hello mum am by names of Koburunga Flavia, I am so greatful for the offer you granted me of continuing my studies. May God richly bless you! I promise I try my level best I won't let you down. Am so thankful to the almighty heavenly father who makes away where it isn't, He also made this for me too.”
Koburunga Flavia, Tanzanian scholar, 2019
“My vision for the program is for it to continuously help underprivileged young people acquire quality education and, in the process, introduce them to Christ. I intend for the program to live on in such a way that those who are being helped now could be of help to others in the future – that is, they will be agents of change and they will hopefully help other children acquire education as they are able.
It is part of my vision to (in the future) establish both an orphanage and a school where feeding will be part of our services. I intend to start an elementary school by September of 2020 – I am praying about that.”
Pastor Dolo, Liberian scholar coordinator, 2019
“My big worry is how to help pay for a doctor that we are sending for surgical training starting in January. His bills will be around 25,000 USD a year for 5 years. We have two more young men that will start in two years.”
Jon Erickson, Hope Clinic co-founder, 2019
Thank you for your passion to invest in others. Thank you for creating opportunities for them to empower themselves and their lives. Thank you for proving that you can create opportunities that have tremendous impacts on others and the world. Thank you for taking the opportunity to empower yourself. We are excited for 2020 and that you will be joining and growing with us.