SUNRISE Africa is a micro-NGO whose origins date back to February 2007 when María José Soto took some time off from work to help out in a Trinity-orphanage in Tutu, in the Akwapim region of Ghana. While working in the orphanage for several months as a volunteer she was confronted with the dire shortage of economic resources and the difficulty in financing not only the basic food requirements but also any other basic needs of the children who had found shelter there. Following her long stay in Ghana María José founded the NGO SUNRISE AFRICA whose purpose it was to contribute to the financing the orphanage where she had worked as a volunteer.
Since 2007 SUNRISE AFRICA has learnt a lot about how to optimise the support for the 32 children whose future they have made themselves responsible for. In the beginning SUNRISE's activities were focused on seeking funds to finance the running costs of the orphanage; since 2010, however, the ways in which SUNRISE works have taken a radical turn. This change was due to the fact that, after several years of ensuring the continuous financing of the 'Trinity orphanage it became clear to SUNRISE that the upkeep of the orphanage entailed costs and expenses which did not benefit directly the children but rather for those who were locally managing the orphanage. In view of this situation it was decided at SUNRISE to put an end to any direct financing of the orphanage.
But while the orphanage as an institution is one thing the children who had found a home at the orphanage and whom SUNRISE could not leave unprotected are something quite different.
For them SUNRISE developed a system which provides that all the funds collected are applied directly by investing in the children's future: no longer will there be any local institution or intermediary who could try to extract some personal benefit from them. The 32 children receive their education at 16 boarding schools which are all located relatively close to Accra, the capital. The children's schooling and sustenance at these boarding schools are paid for directly by SUNRISE.
To monitor all this and to ensure the day-to-day development of the children SUNRISE have hired Awo Boatema Abogaye, a local Ghanaian social worker. Awo is a qualified social worker who knows perfectly well to deal with local social institutions and school directors as well as how to treat the children and their families. You will find Awo's activities described in full detail under "How does the NGO work"
One of SUNRISE's toughest and most difficult tasks is the researching - in close cooperation with the Ministry for Social Affairs - of the children's history. We needed to know out whether the children were really orphans and what had caused their families to abandon them. We know now that in the vast majority of the cases the abandonment happened not because there was no family (as in a very wide sense of the word there actually is a family) but it was not in a position to support its weakest members. At SUNRISE it is understood that wherever it is possible to arrange for it the children should get to know their family roots; whenever no weighty reasons argue against it they should maintain and further develop their links with their family. For this reason and against the background of our knowledge of the family roots of each of the children we have established a program of visits by them to their families (for those who have them which applies to the great majority of cases). Our children visit and, wherever possible also stay with, their families during the school holidays. And when we bring our children to see their families we also ensure that during the time they spend with them a minimum of both their and their families' economic needs is assured.
It is SUNRISE's aim to enable these 32 boys and girls to carve out a decent future for themselves and to help them to avoid that one day in the future they in turn could be forced to abandon their children because they cannot provide them with a decent life. We know every one of the children; we know their past and how much they have suffered. These children have proven to us that they are brave and very capable; that is why we are absolutely convinced that they will know how to make use of the opportunity SUNRISE is offering them, that with our help every one of them can carve out a decent life and a promising future for her/himself.
As an NGO we are quite small; we have a clearly defined aim and for that reason we are not planning to increase the number of children for whom we assume responsibility. Right now we are only seven active members who out of Madrid, Bilbao and Tarragona manage this NGO, everyone according to her/his abilities and knowledge, absolutely without any remuneration and combining it with everyone's respective work. Beyond that we are fully aware of the difficulties in collecting financial support for this kind of project and even more so in times of crisis. We do not aspire, therefore, to grow but to bring our project with the children for whom we feel responsible to a successful conclusion. As and when the children who came into this world without any hope for a decent future have grown into
32 educated and responsible grown-ups with an honorable profession or trade SUNRISE will, thanks to your support have achieved its mission.