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September 19, 2012

My Visit to King George School with our New CEO Vicki Escarra

By Cynthia Greenwood

All this week, I’ve been traveling in Ghana meeting clients and staff, seeing firsthand our work in education finance, agricultural finance, and the technology innovations that help us reach many more clients. Over the weekend, I was joined by our new CEO Vicki Escarra, who is traveling on her first of many trips to get to know our work, our international staff and our hardworking clients.

George Owusu Asare and students of the King George International School in Ashaiman.Last Friday, I visited King George International School in a crowded market in one of the most impoverished neighborhoods of Ashaiman, a city in southeastern Ghana. Yesterday, I returned to the school with Vicki so that she could meet the students and the school proprietor, George Owusu Asare.

Everywhere that Vicki and I have been in Ghana, we were greeted with hugs and huge smiles, but never more so than at the schools we visited, including King George. We climbed out of the van to the beat of drums accompanying several girl students who performed an impressive cultural dance. Then we popped our heads into several classrooms to say “hello” and one of the classes chanted the names of all the regions and capitals of Ghana in the local language. We were really amazed by one little girl who was intent on copying the alphabet in her notebook, and looked up only once while this was going on around her.

Student dancers greeted us at King George School!George Owusu Asare opened King George in 2002 when he saw that the neighborhood desperately needed to provide the local children with the chance to get a quality education. He started the school with two boys and one teacher in a rented wooden structure. Today, the school serves 300 pupils in 10 classrooms and consists of nursery, primary and junior high schools. It also offers a school lunch program to children for only 25 cents per meal. All five of Asare’s children (ranging in age from five months to 11 years) attend the school, and his wife, Margaret, runs the kitchen.

King George School’s proprietor, George Owusu Asare, with his wife, Margaret, and their five children–Pious (7), Harriett (11), Antoinette (9), Nathaniel (3), and Christiana (5 months)–who all attend the school.Asare took out his first Opportunity school proprietor loan in 2007 and has been using his loans since then to build more classrooms and recruit more teachers. “Opportunity has helped me buy building materials to expand my school,” he says, “and my loan officer gives me lots of good advice.”

Vicki and I had a hard time leaving the children we met at King George, but what we saw just reinforced why Opportunity is determined to help raise up private schools in neighborhoods where government schools are few and lagging far behind. Vicki and I both enjoyed seeing how George is growing and improving the school with his education finance loans, making a better future for the local children.

For more from Vicki’s visit to Ghana, stay tuned to the blog, social media and more.