By Michelle Lewis

Transforming Lives… and Africa’s Future

By Michelle Lewis Posted April 30, 2012 at 2:48 pm

ABAN’s headquarters are here on Franklin Street in Chapel Hill, but its mission is in Ghana, Africa.  Founded by UNC student Callie Brauel, and kick-started into high gear by a $15,000 Carolina Challenge Grant in 2010, ABAN is an example of the strong international social entrepreneurships being born right here in Chapel Hill. 

ABAN is an organization working to solve two problems with one united solution. Every day, over 40 tons of plastic waste is thrown onto the streets of Accra, Ghana. Every night, over 30,000 children fall asleep on those same streets. ABAN works with 20 street girls to help them learn a trade, make a living, and secure a future, as well as receive the tools to transform their city into a healthier environment.  (See 2-minute video here)

In ABAN’s two-year Empowerment Program, these young women (ages 16-19) produce handmade accessories from Ghanaian batik fabric and upcycled plastic bags from the streets of Accra.  The young women make each product by hand, empowering them to rise out of poverty by providing them with fair wages, shelter, and vocational skills.  Each product also reduces the amount of litter that fundamentally threatens the well-being of Accra’s residents.

In addition to these vocational skills, ABAN provides the young women with shelter, classes (business, English, math, and Life Skills Education), and the means to save, matching their individual savings upon graduation. At the end of this intensive two-year program, the young women will have the tools they need to change their lives and provide for themselves, their children, and, ultimately, their community.

ABAN’s products are sold online as well as at several locations in Chapel Hill, Carrboro, and Durham, including Foster’s, Jackson, Cameron’s, Modern Fossil, and Whole Foods in Durham.

ABAN is hosting a spring fundraiser from 4:30-6:30 this Sunday, May 6th, at the Botanical Gardens.  Hors d’oeuvres will be provided by Vimala’s Curryblossom Café.  ABAN founder Callie Brauel, Chapel Hill Mayor Mark Kleinschmidt and Judith Cone, Assistant to the Chancellor for Innovation and Entrepreneurship, will speak at the event. 

If you are interested in attending or making a donation, please visit their website (http://www.aban.org/) and click on the “RSVP Here” button under the “Sweep Across North Carolina” banner or e-mail lucila@aban.org.

Sunday’s gathering, in support of women thousands of miles away from Chapel Hill, is a wonderful example of “Nkonsonkonson” — the Ghanaian saying for “unity and human relations.”

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