What Strengthens a Village – January 2022

Special Letter from David Van’t Hof, FI Board President

My love for Africa started 30 years ago as a Peace Corps volunteer in a small village in Senegal, West Africa, where I worked with the villagers on community development opportunities. But those opportunities were limited to a significant extent by the general lack of education in the village – the ability to read, write, and speak the national language.

This experience is not unlike what we encounter today in Ghana, especially in the rural villages Framework International serves.

I’ve been an admirer of Framework International for many years, particularly for its laser focus on education and the leanness of its charitable operations. With virtually no administrative overhead, almost all donations go to building materials and labor for new schools in Ghana, West Africa. Nine new school buildings and counting at this point! 

Wanting to share my love of Africa with my family, I brought them with me to Kenya, in East Africa, when I helped to develop solar micro grids for last mile villages that lacked electricity. These villages typically had a primary school, and students from those villages often progressed to high school and university outside the village.

In these experiences, and many travels on the continent in between, I have seen the importance of education to create opportunities for African youth and communities. This was reinforced last year when I had a chance to reconnect and visit the Senegalese village I lived in so many years ago. 

Pathiab did not have a school when I lived there and children did not have the opportunity to leave the village in pursuit of it. As a result, their lives generally were limited to the subsistence farming of their parents and generations before them. With a new generation of elders running the village, I was excited to see a government supported primary school upon my arrival. The elders now value education and the opportunities it can create.

I learned that almost all of the children in the village, boys and girls, attend the school. Many students progress to attend the high school in the nearby town. And some have gone on to study at university in the regional capital. The result has been several former students now working in jobs outside the village and contributing economically to their families in the village. That means more disposable income and things I had not seen 30 years ago, including mosquito nets, malaria medicine, soap, cement for compound homes and pit toilets, phones, and small solar charging equipment. In short, education is helping to strengthen the fabric of the village and the quality of life enjoyed there.

All children deserve the same opportunity! This is one of the reasons why I joined Framework International’s board of directors and now serve as its board president. I want to see the same transformation happen in the rural communities that we serve in Ghana.

I am excited to help Framework continue its strong track record of building new schools in Ghana – to provide more access for boys and girls to get an education so that they have more opportunities as they become adults. 

I’ve seen how having access to education transforms a community, and I am honored to join you in being a part of changing the future of Ghana through empowering its youth by building them schools.

David Van’t Hof, Board President

Framework International

David's other passion and day job is combating climate change. He’s worked for over two decades as an attorney and a consultant assisting renewable energy and energy efficiency projects and policy development and was Governor Kulongoski's Renewable Energy and Climate Change Policy Advisor, where he led efforts to develop Oregon's major climate change related policies.

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