The Dr. Lauretta Will Educational Foundation Inc. (DLWEF) held its Annual Academic Donor Awards Banquet in Atlanta, Georgia, last month, in celebration of their fourth anniversary. Supporters, volunteers and educational resource donors are normally recognized and presented with a Global Educational Partnership Award during the annual banquet.
The mission of the DLWEF is to gather, distribute, and disseminate educational materials, technological resources, and professional expertise to poverty-stricken inner-city and war-devastated communities. Last year, during her annual trip to Sierra Leone, Dr. Will conducted computer training workshops at the University of Sierra Leone for four months; donated school supplies to teachers at Centennial Secondary School and UBC Elementary in Freetown, and then guided the Engineers Without Borders Lehigh Valley Chapter to Centennial, her alma mater, to drill a water well for the 1,500 students on campus without water or sanitation.
During the banquet, the 2012 projects were displayed during pictorial and video presentations, scrumptious dinner served, a breath-taking African Dance performance by the Rakaba Dance Group entertained the audience, and inspiring speeches were delivered by the Keynote Speaker and Guest Speakers. Preparation is currently underway for the 2013 projects and annual trip to Sierra Leone in the Spring. Below are few highlights from the occasion.
Keynote Speaker - Prof. Tanya MacNeil, Founding Board Member of DLWEF and Program Chair of Information Technology, American InterContinental University Online.
Prof. MacNeil, an Advisory Board member of the DLWEF, has been the most instrumental, in spear-heading thousands of dollars-worth of textbook donations from university faculty and students. In her speech, Prof. MacNeil reiterated her childhood values, including the love of reading, and the significance of not wasting things whether it was food, clothing, or anything else, which were the two things which helped shape a part of her focus, in particular with Dr. Lauretta Will’s Foundation. A loud applause followed her speech.
Posthumous “VOLUNTEER-OF-THE-YEAR AWARD” to Late Mrs. Sandra Cisse – DLWEF Board Member. Late Mrs. Sandra Cisse’s husband and children – Ahmed, Aliah, Rena and Raaca. Son, Hassan, was absent.
“Volunteer-of-the-Year” GRAND AWARD was received posthumously by the family of the Late Mrs. Sandra Cisse, DLWEF Founding Board Member who passed away in October, 2012. The Late Sandra was a very dynamic Board Member who kept books in her private storage for the DLWE Foundation. She also catered her popular cake at our previous annual banquets, kept the books in her storage before shipment, and was very active in Board Meetings. There was a loud applause and standing ovation for the family, as they walked up to receive the posthumous Award, in honor of their beloved wife and mom. Survived by her husband and four children, Sandra was working on her Ph.D, when she passed away, and will be greatly missed by everyone.
As usual, various speakers delivered very inspiring and motivational speeches. The 2012 Keynote Speaker was Professor Tanya MacNeil, Program Chair of Information Technology at the American InterContinental University.
Mrs. Lola Aforo, Guest Speaker at the 4th. Annual Academic Donor Awards Banquet and PRO of University of Sierra Leone(USL) and Director of CAPS (Career Advancement and Professional Services, USL)
Excerpts from Ms. Aforo’s Speech. “…In my own little way, I see myself contributing in the education sector in the country as well. With my experience in working with student services and other university programs like graduation, orientation and fundraising, I am able to contribute my expertise to improve on these areas in the university.
Also, I wrote project and funding was provided by the United Nations Development Project for a center that is called the CAPS (Career Advising and Placement Services) which, enhances students’ awareness in doing their professional resumes or CVs, coaching on interview skills, networking for employment with employers, job fairs and scholarships as well as other post graduate opportunities. Dr. Will volunteered at the center and taught software skills to the students. The students appreciated her very much and asked when she would do that again. We had other volunteers at the center from different parts of the world as well, who assist in technology teaching, leadership workshops, volunteering schemes for students, internships, faith building etc. …. Really as a Sierra Leonean American, I believe that American resources including academic materials and expertise to "Build Great Minds Through Education" in Sierra Leone or anywhere is possible. A big thank you again!
Ms. Aforo had a standing ovation at the conclusion of her speech.
Ms. Murrah served as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Sierra Leone from 1978 to 1980. She was a teacher trainer working with untrained/unqualified primary teachers in the Moyamba District. At the DLWEF, Ms. Murrah shared some of her past and recent work in Sierra Leone. She shared that she has been more fortunate in serving the warm and friendly people of Sierra Leone. Ms. Murrah has been on the Board of Directors for Friends of Sierra Leone since 2002. She has served as president of this organization since 2005. Friends of Sierra Leone is a nonprofit composed primarily of returned Peace Corps Volunteers and Sierra Leonean Diaspora.
The organization funds small projects and serves as an advocate for the people of Sierra Leone. Friends of Sierra Leone has recently completed a primary school in a small village that had never had a dedicated school building. In addition to the 6 classrooms, latrines, a well, and a teacher workroom were also built. Ms. Murrah regularly visits Sierra Leone as part of her work with Friends of Sierra Leone. Under her leadership, the organization was awarded the Sierra Leone @ 50 Humanitarian Award by the Embassy of Sierra Leone in Washington, DC In 2011. Ms. Murrah was selected to be an election monitor with the Carter Center for the Nov. 17th, 2012 elections in Sierra Leone. She participated as an international observer in the Kenema District.
Ms. Murrah received a DLWEF Award. Dr. Will thanked her, on behalf of all students and citizens of Sierra Leone, for all her work in Sierra Leone and lives she and her colleagues have impacted over the years. Ms. Murrah responded that she should be thanking Sierra Leoneans for allowing her to serve them and for her life-changing experiences in Sierra Leone.
Supporters-Phares family, Joseph family and Social Media Coordinator Jassa Deen pose with host.
Tarjatta Rose – 2012 Volunteer Awardee (right), her Mom Evang. Melizza Woodward and other supporters pose with International Coordinator Min. Marilyn Mixon
Sons of Dr. Will, Antoine, Al Y. and Al G. Sillah pose with DLWEF supporter.
The spectacular Rakaba African Dancers entertained guests to a standing ovation.
Kadiatu Gassama of Tennesse entertained guests with a melodious song
Dr. Will plans another missions outreach trip in Spring of 2013. She again plans to lecture at the University of Sierra Leone, present couple of public lectures and distribute academic materials. She may also travel with Engineers Without Borders to Centennial Secondary School, depending on funding and schedule of the engineers. Once again, Sierra Leonean students look forward to her valuable visits.
Click on video clip below for highlights of the event.
For more information, please visit the DLWEF website through the google search engine.