The invitation went out and the response was heart-warming. Even the raindrops couldn’t keep away our ardent supports and new friends. Held at Tonic at Quigley’s Pharmacy on September 16, 2010, the event gave attendees a chance to mingle with friends, win prizes, learn more about BEF, share their thoughts, and enjoy the evening all while supporting education in Africa. The Happy Hour generated well over $2000 in donations and pledges. In addition to the monetary gifts at least two new potential volunteers have come forward. The Happy Hour was a grand success and big THANK YOU goes out to all who contributed.
On October 8, 2009, dozens of BEF supporters came together to celebrate 11 years of partnering to support students in Benin. Attendees heard inspiring stories about our students and learned about all of the wonderful benefits that their donations bring to students, families and communities. We enjoyed food and drink specials and several lucky winners went home with raffle prizes from Benin and from local vendors.
All proceeds from the event will go directly to scholarships and educational support for our high school and university students.
Throughout the month of November 2008 the Benin Education Fund (BEF) team traveled to several high schools in Benin to raise awareness about HIV-AIDS. In honor of World AIDS Day on December 6, 2008, BEF co-hosted a parade and essay contest for our students.
Click here to read the winning essays, see photos, and learn more about the day’s events.
WASHINGTON, Oct. 18 — The Benin Education Fund (BEF), a Washington D.C.-area volunteer-run nonprofit group, hosted a 10th anniversary celebration on Friday, October 17, 2008. The fundraising event, which took place from to at Busboys & Poets in Washington, raised money towards its goal of putting nearly 300 students from rural West Africa through high school, university and trade school programs for the next year.
BEF scholarships help educate, feed, house, and provide healthcare to dedicated students who otherwise would not be able to attend high school in Benin, a vibrant democracy hampered by a 35% literacy rate. Highlights of BEF’s first 10 years include providing scholarships to nearly 500 needy students, 55 of whom passed the rigorous Baccalaureate exam that enables admission to universities. Ten BEF students have graduated with Bachelors degrees, and five went on to earn Masters. More still have graduated from trade schools in agriculture and nursing, and several have joined the military.
One of BEF’s first scholarship recipients, Mlle. Chastine Chabi, recently completed medical school and is now a practicing doctor in Benin. Dozens more have gone on to university, a remarkable achievement given the lack of schooling and basic services available to them in their home villages.
“The career opportunities created by BEF’s early and constant support in these boys’ and girls’ education are truly life-transforming,” said Mr. Alphonse Kouagou, the organization’s founding chair. “We’re amazed at the profound impact that a modest investment in education can have on these students, their families, and indeed their entire villages.”
The 2008-09 school year marks the biggest enrollment of BEF-supported students yet. Some 250 students will be given scholarships to high school, along with housing and basic medical care. An additional 45 students will receive funding for university or trade schools.
The anniversary fundraiser coincided with the start of the school year in Benin, where education beyond the Primary level is not free and is often prohibitively expensive. Tuition, fees and expenses for high school can cost $150/year for a student, while average annual income in Benin is less than $600. For ambitious students in the agrarian parts of the country, an outside benefactor can be the road out of poverty.
This was the road Mr. Kouagou was fortunate to find. One of ten children, he was the only of his generation who learned to read or write. When Alphonse was 6 years old, the village chief recruited him to attend the new primary school in his village. He excelled in school and eventually graduated from college, later earning his C.P.A. and M.B.A. and working at the International Finance Corporation.
BEF operates a small staff in Benin who monitor the students’ progress and care. More than 90% of BEF’s annual budget goes directly to student scholarships. Its directors are based in the U.S. and are all volunteers.
“Unlike many other organizations that focus on primary school, BEF focuses on high school education and we make a long-term investment in each of our students,” said Mr. Kouagou. “Through the generous support of our donors and backers, we are able to increase the number of new students we can support each year. The achievements of our students are proof-positive that the approach is working.”
The evening was sponsored in part by the Owner’s Representative (http://www.the-or.com), which provides financial management expertise to start-up businesses, small businesses and non-profit organizations.
About the Benin Education Fund
The Benin Education Fund (www.benineducationfund.org) is a U.S.-based 501c3 organization whose mission is to help students in Benin finish high school so they can provide for themselves and contribute to their communities. Founded in 1998 by Alphonse and Karen Kouagou, BEF provides scholarships to students based on performance and need, and commits to funding all 7 years of their secondary education. Funding comes primarily from individual donors in the United States and Canada.