This page has been kept for historical purposes.
Who are we?
We started from a group of Earthwatch volunteers who visited the Wechiau Community Hippo Sanctuary in 2002.
We set up up the Friends of Wechiau group (FoW) so that we could continue to support this important community led ecotourism site. The members of the group living in the UK registered the organisation with the Charity Commission of England and Wales as an unincorporated membership organisation with the following aims:
“The advancement of education of people resident within the boundaries of the Wechiau Hippo Sanctuary, Ghana, or surrounding areas by the provision of educational materials, funding of teachers and supplies and at the discretion of the trustees the provision of scholarships for individuals to extend their education and training.”
We liaised with the Sanctuary Management Board (SMB) and the Nature Conservation Research Centre (NCRC) in Ghana to decide how we could best support the local community and we jointly agreed that education of young people was the key to the sustainability of this community. Key to the initial development of the education project was Donna Sheppard who works for Calgary Zoo and was then the NCRC Sanctuary Advisor. Donna continues to visit the sanctuary on an annual basis and monitors progress. More recently FoW has formed a partnership with the Savannah Fruits Company who are supporting the trade of organic shea butter from shea nuts collected in the sanctuary area by local women. It is the Savannah Fruits Company (SFC) who disburse the FoW funds for us locally and they provide an independent monitoring role.
The Sanctuary Manager (R.Y.Abudulai Issahaku) acts as a local administrator of the education programme and organises meetings with the local schools, the scholarship students, and obtains feedback and recommendations which are forwarded to the trustees of FoW. In 2015 we provided funds for a motor bike for the local administrator to travel around the local schools to promote and organise the scholarship programme.
From the start the local Wechiau community was involved in the education project with a local based education committee comprising of representatives of members of the Sanctuary Management Board, SFC, schools, former scholarship students and representatives of the local community selecting the scholarship students and the school to benefit from school supplies based on the funding agreed annually with FoW.
In 2009 we had a very successful visit to Wechiau Community Hippo Sanctuary where we met the scholarship students and visited their schools. We also saw the opening of a new primary school and took part with Calgary Zoo and others in the Durbar to celebrate 10 years of the Hippo Sanctuary.
How could people be involved?
You could become a member of the Friends of Wechiau Group by donating a minimum of £15. Membership of the Friends of Wechiau Group was open to anyone who agreed with the charity’s aims. In addition for as little as £10 per month or £120 per year you could sponsor a student to attend senior secondary school. For UK taxpayers the charity could claim back the tax, so please contact us to complete a giftaid form if you make a donation.
We held annual general meetings open to all members to attend. Even if people could not get to meetings they could still be be a member and be involved as we communicated with all members by email or post for all important decisions.
Friends of Wechiau collected information about its members and supporters and recipients of funds and their families in order for the charity to carry on its work. We ensured that that the information held was adequate, relevant and not excessive for the purpose that it is kept. It was accurate, kept up to date and not kept longer than is necessary. All members, supporters and recipients of funds and their families were made aware of what personal information is being held, how it is to be used and explicit consent obtained to hold information.
Personal information will be retained only according to the requirements of charity law following dissolution and some sample records will be retained for archiving/research purposes. Any personal data has only been shared with Calgary Zoo Foundation as necessary for the continuation of the scholarship programme and following agreement with each individual student.
The trustees and officers
The last trustees of the charity and officers were elected at the annual general meeting.
The last officers before dissolutions were:
- Chairperson – Ann Bannister
- Vice Chairperson – Janet Kirk
- Secretary – Martin Upson
- Treasurer – John Flynn
We were a small independent charity where nearly all our funds were focused on funding for education with very small costs for administration.
We thank the Savannah Fruits Company, and the Calgary Zoological Society for providing the necessary resources to enable the funds to be disbursed and to assist with the scholarship selection process at no additional cost.
We are grateful to Donna Sheppard (Calgary Zoo) and R.Y.Abudulai Issahaku (Wechiau Community Hippo Sanctuary) for supplying many of the photographs displayed on this website.
Endorsement from The Rt Hon the Lord Boateng of Akyem and Wembley formerly Chief Secretary of Her Majesty’s Treasury and High Commissioner to South Africa
“Small locally based charities with a focus on community to community support have a continuing and important role to play in delivering the Sustainable Development Goals. Significantly they also build global solidarity from the grass roots. Governments come and go but peoples and their relationships remain. Growing up in Ghana and having lived and worked in both the U.K. and Africa I know just how much the shared bonds of common humanity between peoples matters in transforming the lives of donors and beneficiaries alike. Friends of Wechiau is a small charity that punches above its weight with a welcome focus on outcomes and impact The needs it meets are real and ongoing and its work deserves to flourish. I wish Friends of Wechiau continuing success.”