Dr. Viola M. Vaughn is founder and Executive Director of the Women’s Health Education and Prevention Strategies Alliance (WHEPSA) and 10,000 Girls in Kaolack, Senegal, West Africa. She founded WHEPSA in 2001, to develop new strategies for offering health and educational services to girls in rural Senegal.
Viola’s own story is a remarkable one. An American grandmother with an Ed.D. from Columbia University’s renowned Teacher’s College in New York, she acquired considerable administrative and teaching experience in health care and education, in both the U.S. (mainly in her native Michigan) and six African countries, including Senegal. In 2000 Viola and her husband, Jazz musician Sam Sanders, made the decision to emigrate to Senegal with their family, to provide their five grandchildren with an international, multilingual and multicultural education.
Her personal experience home-schooling her grandchildren led to some local curiosity in their community in Koalack. One day a 9-year-old girl asked Viola to help her finish third grade. And so 10,000 Girls began.
Read what UNICEF has to say about Viola and 10,000 Girls.
Viola’s vision led her to work with the girls to create WHEPSA’s innovative approach–an approach that integrates education and employment for girls in a self-sustaining program. Its two main components are:
1. Education for girls at risk of failure or dropping out of school; and
2. Employment and training for girls who have failed at school or never attended.