Posted: April 14, 2006
At an April 8 fundraiser at the Ghanaian Embassy in Washington, DC, former Take the Lead participant Emilie Kimball raised more than $25,000 for the organization Women in Progress to help women in Ghana build and grow their small businesses and become self-sufficient.
"The evening was terrific!" said Kimball, a high school junior from Potomac, Maryland. "It was a great feeling to see so many people at the event who were enthusiastic about the women and wanting to help. People flew in from as far away as Florida, Boston, and Minneapolis. Teachers from my grade school came to support me, as did teachers from my current school, the National Cathedral School." In all, 300 people attended, and almost as many sent in donations.
Before coming to Take the Lead, a four-day leadership conference at Mount Holyoke for high school girls, Kimball interned with Women in Progress in Cape Coast, Ghana. She worked with women entrepreneurs known as the Global Mamas, who make colorful batik clothing and market and sell the products internationally with the help of Women in Progress.
Kimball's goal was to establish a revolving fund so the women could be advanced money they need to purchase materials for their products. She wrote a letter to the Ghanaian Ambassador, Fritz Kwabena Poku, and won his support to host a fundraiser at the embassy.
Kimball far exceeded her original goal of raising $15,000 that she set while at Take the Lead. "Take the Lead gave me the broad vision and great confidence to know I really could accomplish my goal of raising $15,000 for women in Ghana. In the beginning, $15,000 seemed so unrealistic. But more and more people became inspired, and the word spread. I was interviewed by a local television station. A state delegate called me when she read the story in a local newspaper. In the end, we raised more than $25,000. This will go a very long way in Ghana."
Irina Liberman '06, who was Kimball's mentor during Take the Lead, said she was inspired by Kimball's determination to help women in Ghana. "We had to define the goals and put together the plan for the fundraiser, but it's really Emilie's desire to make a difference for Global Mamas that made it all happen."
At the event, which featured entertainment by a Ghanaian drumming group and food from the local Ghana Café, Ambassador Poku said, "At a time when children and other young people are assailed and bombarded by all sorts of attractions and distractions … it is incredible that a 15-year-old girl, now 16, would be so inspired to wish to make a difference in the lives of not children, but adult women she had come to appreciate and love in Ghana. Emilie, you are my hero this evening, and I wish to commend you."
Tax-deductible contributions can be made payable to Women in Progress and sent to Emilie Kimball, 7900 Horseshoe Lane, Potomac, MD 20854.