2018-2019 Annual Report

Peace Sisters continued to see excellent growth in our second year as a formally recognized 501(c)(3) charitable organization.  Thanks to the generous support of our donors, we have increased both our funding and our ability to get the word out about what we do. As a direct result of this fundraising success, Peace Sisters was able to expand our reach in the Dapaong, Togo environs of West Africa. We identified 300 girls in need of financial aid in order to pay their school fees for the 2018-2019 school year and to provide them with the necessary school supplies. Over fifty of these girls attended at the high school level, and for the first time in our organization’s history we were able to assist one of our students to pursue a University education. We are particularly happy to see continued improvement in the overall success rate of our girls’ studies; this year 80% of our students who took the BEPC (the national exam to graduate middle school) passed the exam and will be eligible to move on to high school in September.

In the Fall of 2018, serving as our “Ambassador,” Kathleen Hanna, launched a T-shirt company called Tees4Togo and began selling beautifully designed T-shirts to benefit Peace Sisters. Drawing upon her networks as a musician and girl power activist, Kathleen was able to mobilize significant publicity and interest in our work. Her activities helped to increase traffic to our website and landed us mentions in publications as varied as the New York Times and the LA Times as well as Rolling Stone, Pitchfork, Bust and Domino magazines. She also encouraged the Beastie Boys to donate some of the proceeds from sales of both their limited edition Sonos speakers and their special edition Adidas sneakers.

Our mailing list has continued to grow as our name recognition increases, and we have recently launched a Mail Chimp account so people can more easily sign up to receive our news. We also continue to publish news stories over our website and Facebook page.

Peace Sisters is always reviewing our efforts in Togo and discovering new and improved ways that we can increase the chances for our students’ success. Our beneficiaries are selected primarily due to their financial hardship, and as a result of this requirement, many of them face a multitude of obstacles in pursuing their education. Peace Sisters has successfully provided solar study lamps to hundreds of girls who live in villages without electricity so that they can study after the sun goes down around 6pm every night. We have also recognized that as an increasing number of our students become eligible to pursue a higher education at the University level, many of them need assistance with assembling the right legal documentation in order to enroll in these institutions; Peace Sisters has therefore rolled out a program to help girls obtain formal ID Cards. We have already provided this service to 136 girls and paperwork is underway for an additional 165 girls.

As we look forward to the 2019-2020 School Year, we at Peace Sisters continue to build off of our previous success so that we can expand in the most sustainable ways possible. With continued support from our donors, we look forward to providing other services for our students such as teaching them to make reusable products for coping with menstruation in order to decrease preventable absenteeism from school. We also hope to increase the computer literacy of our students by inviting them to our new office space in Dapaong, Togo and helping them to visit local internet cafés.

We are thrilled to see the continued enthusiasm that our supporters have shown us, and we anticipate a bright future ahead as our activities grow!

Lara Eldredge Schott