Sisterhood Batik Center

November 27, 2017

“I have been working with the men and women of Hehekpoe for the past 4 years.  I have watched them raise their children, build 2 schools, a library, gather around a bonfire to tell stories with strong and beautiful life-lessons, and strive to bring more hope and opportunity to their community.  This is the village I want to help, because they know how to help themselves.”  ~Betsy Benoit

During my recent volunteer trip to Hehekpoe, the local women came to me and my friends, Sandy and her daughter Kristi, to ask us questions – how we saw them, their lives, their village, and what wisdom we had for them. The three of us had just as many question as they did, and it was a deep, touching, funny conversation.  We were moved by the women’s desire to start their own business to get them through the Dry Season when their farms didn’t yield enough crops, and for when they got old and could no longer farm or make charcoal to sell at the market.  They had collectively decided to start making batik fabric to sell in the markets – but they needed help to get it off the ground. They weren’t looking for a handout, just advice.

The three of us sat with 25 amazing women and discussed the project from every business and creative angle we could think of. When it was clear the batik center would not only support the women and their children, but also school and community projects, we were determined to help their dream become a reality. I told my mom about our experience and she also got involved.  Between the four of us, we donated $5000 to purchase batiking materials and training from a local batik center that Adanu and one of our partner, NYU Stern School of Business, is involved with.

We are now fundraising for the remaining $11,600 to build the Sisterhood Batik Center structure, a place they can work out of the rain and off the dirt. The goal is to have the structure built by the time they are fully trained in early 2018.

I am asking for your help to empower the women, children and the community of Hehekpoe. Give the gift of a future they are accountable for –a social business enterprise that follows a proven model by NYU Stern School of Business at the Adanu village of Woadze Tsatoe.

DONATE to the Sisterhood Batik Center today! (, click on drop down menu to choose Sisterhood Batik Center)

Your donation to Friends of Adanu is tax deductible.

Sisterhood Batik Center Flyer

What does it take to build a school?

August 28, 2017

An engaged community, donations for materials, Adanu (means ‘wise collaboration’ in Ewe), and LOTS of hard work from everyone!

Land is donated, work committees established, rules for work are made, and the community provides all the labor, sand, water and anything else they can.

The Chief and Elders set the tone by showing up early every workday. The women start collecting water, men start mixing the concrete by hand.  Blocks are molded, lines are set, foundations are dug, walls slowly rise.  In about 4-6 months, a school building is completed.

Sound easy?  NO WAY!

We spent a week in Hehekpoe trying to be helpful to the workers, but we mostly slowed them down.  Even something as simple-sounding as collecting water had us begging off after 4 trips. Try carrying a massive bowl on your head for a ¼ mile without spilling – it’s heavy, requires a model’s posture, and strong neck muscles (luckily the other women lifted it onto our heads so we didn’t have to start in a squat position!).  Carrying bricks this way is better as they don’t slosh around!

I tried putting my expertise in mortaring bricks to good use (I watch my husband do DIY jobs), and while I was pretty pleased with myself, the men soon encouraged me to take a seat in the shade.

In the week we were in Hehekpoe, their progress was tremendous – walls were climbing to the invisible ceiling, and the entire back wall had four courses of bricks laid.

The best part of watching the school go up was the participation of the community. Those that couldn’t work onsite still gave valuable help.  One man who ran a very small store in the community asked our Robert Tornu how he could help.  Robert said he could pay for an extra mason (from a nearby village) to come work for one day. The man disappeared for a few minutes, then came back with the needed amount – 40cedi, or $10.

Building a school is about empowerment, commitment and communication; empowerment so the community knows they can do it and own it, commitment from the community and Adanu to see the work through, and communication between everyone to ensure challenges are resolved and successes celebrated.


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