The Sunflower Foundation (Australia)

Empowering Girls Through Education in Developing Countries.


2018 Nominee for a Telstra Small Business Award.

Our vision is a world where gender equality, justice, freedom and sustainable communities can flourish. Our mission is to educate girls. Girls'' education has been called the universal spanner in ending poverty. Not only that, keeping girls in school disrupts destructive traditional practices that perpetuate the poverty cycle even as they discriminate against girls at best, or are lethal at worst.

Our model is to partner with registered and vetted in-country grassroots charities, who know what their communities need and how best to bring it to them. We have just changed our business model from annual grants to longer-term partnerships to accomplish larger projects.

Take the case of our partnership with the Riley Orton Foundation, in Kisumu, western Kenya. Erik and David, two young men who grew up in the Kisumu slums, but were educated through scholarships, decided they wanted to give back to their community. They founded the ROF and their first project was a school for girls in the slums. They knew that without satisfactory primary education scores, the girls would not qualify for secondary education in the Kenyan national system. Without an education, the options for girls are prostitution, child marriage to elderly men, (both of which lead to early teen pregnancies with their appallingly high maternal and infant mortality and HIV/AIDS infection). This the poverty cycle continues for the next generation. This story is reported over and over in sub-Saharan Africa and the current drought is exacerbating the situation. Although child marriage is illegal, the temptation to sell a daughter for livestock is very powerful. There is one less mouth to feed and the family gains much needed food. We think of child sacrifice as something out of myth. Yet it happens on a daily basis in poor countries.

The tiny Kisumu school became a girls' boarding school outside the slums, when mothers became, very rightly concerned about the potential for sexual and physical abuse in the community. Akili Primary School for Girls provides a safe learning environment, free education, nourishing food, and teaches the girls about sustainable food production as well as their academic studies. Girls who have no safe home environment stay at school during the holidays. Compared to Australian Primary Schools, well, there is no comparison. But compared to the informal schools in the slums, it is paradise.

We entered the story when we funded showers incorporating a grey water system that will sustain the school's garden and orchard. Since then we have funded three extra teachers, computer training for staff and students, supported the Smart Girls Program (reproductive health, the advantages of education over the alternatives), food requisites for twelve months and caretaker salaries. In 2017, at the newly erected Mandaleo Community Hub, together we built and equipped a hairdressing-training salon. The Sunflower Foundation funded facilitator salaries and training materials for entrepreneurship courses that will benefit the out-of-school girls.

Our most ambition program to date with the ROF is a Literacy Garden that will offer girls from 5 surrounding schools a safe place for after school tuition in literacy, technology and sustainable food production. Solar power will provide energy for technology and a bore well, to provide economical, clean water to the community. The well will also provide the little girls with time for tuition, as currently, they trek 5 miles a day or more for water. The project will cost AU$180,000, a far cry from our previous small grants.

When we began ten years ago (2008), we aimed to raise $6000 for an education trust that would provide a scholarship to one girl each year. But we are justly proud that, in that time, our all-volunteer organisation has awarded over $150,000 in funding for 27 projects in 7 countries. We are a DFAT approved overseas aid organisation with full DGR status. We are in good standing with the Australian Charities and Not-for-profit Commission, and have been vetted by the US base Public Interest Registry (to obtain our .ngo domain, open only to validated international charities, and by, a premier international charity Crowdfunding site. We are Registered in Victoria and registered to fundraise in every state requiring such registration.

Please visit our website to read more about our projects in Australia, (for indigenous girls), Ecuador, India, Kenya, Sri Lanka, Tanzania and Uganda. We'd be delighted to share updates with you via our LinkedIn Company page or on social media:Twitter andInstagram(@sunflowerNGO) and Facebook (Sunflower Foundation Australia)

Our Projects

This charity does not have an active project at the moment