President’s Message 2019

These are indeed exciting times! The school compound is clean, the buildings are freshly painted, the classrooms are furnished, the students have benches to sit on, and the administrative and science labs have full electric capacity. This is due to the tremendous efforts of Annie Walsh alumnae worldwide; including the indomitable and dynamic AWOGA Washington Metro branch members. We deserve a great big round of applause!

But the work is far from done. Although our past students are making history every day and our current students are breaking academic records, the prospective students still look to us to forge a path forward. The educational system in Sierra Leone is a long way from being perfect. With our goal of being a privately funded institution, the proverbial buck cannot stop here.

170 years of providing excellence in education to girls in Sierra Leone is a laudable achievement. The ability to sustain operations of the school is in part due to the alumnae organizations’ financial support, especially our branch. Our contribution to the school as an alumna branch continues to be significant because of the collective hard work by executive and general members alike.

As I reflect on my brief time in office, I must say it has been a pleasure serving. As leader of the organization, I developed a strategic plan for expanding our fundraising activities beyond our biannual events to reach a broader pool of potential donors. We are yet to gain traction, but I have made a note to myself to move the needle forward in 2019; particularly if we are finally approved to operate as a private institution by the Ministry of Education for the 2019-2020 school year.

A highlight of my time as president was on September 11th, 2017 when over 2,500 A.W.M.S pupils started a regular 8 am to 2pm school day. The long-awaited time had come, and we witnessed the historic moment when the school reverted to its original single shift status. There were emails, WhatsApp messages and phone calls all around the world that day. The anticipation building up to that day was very intense. Teachers, principals and pupils were anxious for this moment. News stories described how smooth the transition was. Donations from members and our supporters made it possible for the branch to contribute to some of the mandatory requirements for the process. We thank the AWMS Privatization Implementation Planning Committee for spearheading this. Well done!

In 2018, we all waited with bated breath for the outcomes of the general elections in Sierra Leone. The issue at hand was how well our bid for privatization would fare if the rules suddenly changed. Although we are faced with challenges and the process seems to have been stalled, we remain hopeful. The free education program launched by the new administration is not a viable option for our school, so we will continue in our bid to privatize.

The AWOGA Washington Millennials were a pleasant surprise and a breath of fresh air. When I got a call from their leader, Janet Moiwah, I was impressed by the energy and passion with which she expressed her desire to make a difference not just among AWMS alumnae, but all young girls and women in Sierra Leone. My mantra has been to increase and encourage younger generations to get involved in the activities needed to support and enhance the school, so I am keen to see how this will unfold. I implore successive leaders of the branch to embrace change and encourage diversity in 2019 and beyond.

Attendance at our annual Thanksgiving Service and fundraising gala was record breaking this past year. This translates to highest donations received and funds raised as well. I am pleased that I can hand over the mantle of leadership, leaving behind a strong financial outlook and growing membership. I wish the incoming executive all the best.

May we all continue to do the best we can in whatever capacity we are able.

Non sibi sed omnibus !

Marion Koso-Thomas
Immediate Past-President
AWOGA Washington