A CHARITY founder has been made an African chief for a third time.
Lynne Symonds is already chief of two tribes of more than two million people in remote areas of Northern Ghana.
Now she has been “enskinned” as chief of the Dagombas, a tribe covering a remote and poverty-stricken region of 8,000 square miles.
The former education worker, who used to live in Leechmere Road, was made Chief of Peace and Friendship.
“This is very significant in itself,” she said.
“There are still tribal wars in the area and arguments between chieftains.
“It is very important to the stability of the community.”
The honour of tribal chief is in response to Lynne’s mission to promote education for girls in a region where traditionally they devote themselves to farming and housework and even boys leave school at 13.
Her charity, the Wulugu Project, which works to reduce poverty through education, has links with more than 1,000 villages and quadrupled the numbers of girls going to school.
She said: “People don’t go to these places. People don’t see it happening and it is not a place other charities go to.
“We go to places that other people don’t reach.
“We are the most effective educational charity in Northern Ghana.”
She gave thanks to people in Sunderland who have given their support to the charity, which is staffed by volunteers and has been running for nearly 20 years.
“We do what the people want and we do it with them. It is work done for the people, by the people.
“We trust them and they trust us,” she said.
The enskinnment ceremony at Karaga saw people from many villages coming to join the celebrations, where Lynne sat on traditional animal skins to be honoured with her new title.
It is also the site of a new vocational school for girls and a hostel for more than 100 girls, so that those travelling from distant villages can be safe.
It is the third time she has received an accolade from the Ghanaian people and came as she was coping with her mother Mary Luccock’s illness and recent death.