Ghana Together News Updates

Ghana Together works with our Ghanaian friends of Western Heritage Home, a Ghanaian-registered and managed non-profit, to improve social, educational, and health conditions in Axim, Ghana. Together we accomplish projects, connect WHH to resourceful individuals and organizations, and create sustainable programs. We make a real difference to real people in a local, grassroots effort. Our website at tells our story.

Jan 13, 2018

Ghana Together’s Mr. Quilt Man! Our own Jerome Chandler!

Jerome Chandler is a founding member of Ghana Together, having served since 2006. His interest in Ghana goes way back!

He served from 1958-1967 at St. John’s Senior High School in Sekondi, Ghana---the first four years, as math teacher, and then as Headmaster for five years. Sekondi is about 30 miles east of Axim.

It was a tumultuous time with Ghana becoming independent in 1957, followed by an unsettled period including a military coup in 1966, and political turmoil generally.  Not so easy to be the Headmaster in a school that followed the English education system, including administering the “Cambridge Exam” to his students---the same exam English students were taking at the time—during those difficult years!

Jerome returned to the US and eventually, luckily for us, he became a Science Instructor at Skagit Valley College for many years, here in Mount Vernon, WA.

But, he never lost his interest and affection for Ghana and its culture. And what better represents Ghanaian culture than its indigenous textiles---especially woven kente cloth and printed adinkra symbolic motifs?

And, since in his senior years, Jerome has taken up quilting, what better raw material than the beautiful Ghanaian cloth?

So, when our friend Kathryn Roe, Founder/Leader of Anansi Non-profit in Ghana, brought back extensive yardage of traditional Ghanaian “cloth” from Ghana, Jerome was thrilled! And he got to work!

First, he made a beautiful Adinkra symbols quilt for Kathryn herself, as a thank-you

The adinkra symbolism is an old traditional art form, which is still ubiquitous in Ghana. There is a record of a stamped Adinkra cloth being sent back to England in 1817. The symbols have meanings. 

See this website which beautifully documents the rich meaning. These symbols are still widely used in Ghana---not only on textiles but also as decorative art on buildings, signage, etc. 

Having made that first quilt, now Jerome was on a roll! So he made another one for the Mount Vernon Kiwanis Club, which has supported our students since 2007!

Gary Jones, (left),  International Program leader, accepts a quilt on behalf of the local Kiwanis 

One thing led to another! A few folks who have collected and arranged shipping for hundreds of children’s books got their surprise quilts!

He made this one below  for the Axim Library, featuring the Gye Nyame symbol meaning “except for God”, which may be the most common, and is found on textiles, stores, restaurants, taxi cabs, signage. A common use might be "except for God, you and I would not be greeting each other today."

The symbol in the middle is the symbol for God---"except for God"...

And one for our friend Bonnie who supported a student from...grade 3?...through nursing school...her "graduation gift."

And there are more, but this is a good sample! Some are going to our partners in Axim, who have worked so well with us to enable us to help them achieve our mutual goals.

We only wish we could honor every one of you, our dear readers and  “investors” in so many ways, with one of Jerome’s beautiful pieces! 

Thanks to you, we’ve managed to enable our partners, Western Heritage Home, to support 69 students this first term in 2018. We continue to support the library. We love this collaboration and are eager to see what 2018 puts in front of us!!

(Notice our logo features adinkra symbols. Starting at 1:00, "nurture", lifelong learning, health & beauty, leadership, and "except God.")

Ghana Together
808 Addison Place
Mount Vernon, WA 98273


Dec 14, 2017

Medical Milestones in Axim area of Ghana

Congratulations to our Western Heritage Home Scholar Dorothy Armoo who has graduated as a Nursing Assistant from the SDA Health Assistant Training School in Asanta, Ghana! Dorothy exemplifies the Western Heritage Home motto:
Dorothy will participate in a graduation ceremony in early 2018, at which time the new graduates will be assigned to their workplace---which could be ANYWHERE in Ghana! She is excited and proud!

And congratulations to Scholars Philomena Mensah and Charlotte Armah who met the academic requirements to be accepted into the Asanta Nursing Training School, and who have just completed their first term. They are on their way to becoming nurses!

Charlotte (left) &  Philomena on first day at the Asanta Nurses Training School

Charlotte (second from left) and Philomena (far right) with classmates at the end of first term of nurses training in their nice new training uniforms!

Huge thank you to Dr. James Heilman and the WikiMed Foundation for allowing us to purchase two of the first 100 newly-published prototype WikiMed Internet-in-a-Boxes! And to Adam Holt of Unleash Kids who connected Ghana Together with the WikiMed folks.

Western Heritage Home Operations Manager Evans Arloo and the computer lab teachers installed the units---one at Asanta Nursing Training School and the other at Essiama Community Health Nursing/Midwifery School.

Each of these little devices is a “hot spot” that sends signals to network-enabled computers and smartphones

Students can access as if they are on the actual internet from the computers in their lab and even on their smartphones, if they have them! (Actual internet is not very available yet in the more rural parts of Ghana, and if available, very expensive.)

WikiMed Training Session at the Computer Lab at the Asanta Nurses Training School

Western Heritage Home Operations Manager Evans Arloo (left) hands over the WikiMed device and documentation to the computer teacher at Asanta Nurses Training School

WikiMed Handing Over Ceremony at Essiama Nursery/Midwifery School. James Kainyiah, Chairman of Western Heritage Home, is tall guy 4th from left
Believe it or not (!), each of these little units holds:

--a complete collection of all healthcare, anatomy, and medication-related topics from Wikipedia, but in offline format---at least 50,000 articles in all
--a “Global Emergency Medicine Wiki”, which is the world’s largest emergency medicine open-access reference resource
--a “HealthPhone Medical Video Collection”---videos on various healthcare topics
--many “Practical Action” videos on topics such as agriculture, disaster response, fisheries, food processing, social and economic development, and waste management
--OpenStreet Maps of the entire world (especially useful for medical personnel traveling in more remote areas of their own countries)
Dr. Heilman and his group allowed us to purchase these WikiMed devices, as prototypes, on the condition that the faculty and students will provide feedback to his group, to help improve the next release they are already working on. As Dr H told us, “These represent the work of 10s of thousands of people. I hope people find it useful. We are busy working on the next version.”
AND, remember those urine diversification/dehydration toilets Engineers Without Borders pioneered in Axim? Well, EWB built one, we of Ghana Together funded two more. We gave workshops…we visited…and RE-visited… we used them ourselves just to prove... (J) and now the nearby village of Apetaim has built one for itself, thanks to a local NGO!! A wonderful move to better health and hygiene! We only hope more villages take up this type of toilet design.

And so, we’ve come to the end of our year. So many good projects and accomplishments!
Our Annual Update Letter summarizes our year and our plans.
On behalf of the Western Heritage Scholars, and the Axim Community, we sincerely thank you for your financial help. The American dollar goes a long way in Ghana!
We spend every donated amount on projects there. All our administrative expenses, including travel, are paid out-of-pocket by our Board Directors. We try to help in areas where our expertise, technology, and funds can provide what is difficult or impossible for Axim-ites to provide for themselves. We have wonderful leaders in Axim who are our good friends, and partners.
If you want to help, please visit our website for more info. Our mailing address is:

Ghana Together
808 Addison Place
Mount Vernon, WA 98273


Jul 11, 2017

How Are Those Western Heritage Home Scholars Doing??

Remember, way back, when James Kainyiah refused to identify a bunch of kids as "orphans" or what the Ghana Ministry of Women and Children calls "OVCs" (orphaned or vulnerable children)?

...NO, he said. No. These children are our SCHOLARS...we are making leaders of the least! ...And so we are.

Maryanne Ward traveled to Ghana in June and caught up with most of the 74 scholars Ghana Together supported in one way or another during the 2016-2017 school year. A wonderful adventure!!
Dorothy is in her last term of nursing school, and will graduate in November. She is currently doing clinical practicum in the hospital in Babiana, Ghana. 

Dorothy doing her practicum

Eric and Francis are both in automotive apprentice programs in Tarkwa and Takoradi. Maryanne met Francis’ mother briefly, who expressed her thanks. Unfortunately, We don't have up-to-date pics...
Philomena and Charlotte have graduated from Nsein Senior High School, both in the top ten of their class.

Philomena is working for Mr. Bentil as a receptionist in his business and also cares for her five younger siblings, because her mother is too ill to care for them. She is teaching her 14-year old brother to cook, so if/when she is accepted into nursing school in September, he can manage, he says, and he'll keep himself and the younger siblings in school. Then, when Dorothy becomes a nurse, she can help him with his own training.

Charlotte has started a small business selling water sachets, which she says has enabled her to support herself. Her Mom, who told Maryanne she finished 3rd grade herself, is just over-the-top proud of Charlotte and as a savvy market woman, has helped Charlotte launch her own little business. Charlotte also plans to go to nursing school in September, with our help.

Philomena, Maryanne, Charlotte, Charlotte's niece, and Charlotte's Mom

Emmanuella is finishing her first year at Ghana National College in Cape Coast, which has a specialized senior high school for blind students like her. She told us she's made friends, and has learned to "walk about the campus" unaided. She's learning via a "talking laptop", and will join the choir in September!

During the break, she will join her Auntie who has a small subsistence farm near Axim, and help out as much as she can.

Emmanuella with her laptop. She has a special program that reads her textbooks aloud, and headphones

Peter is finishing his term at Nsein Senior High. Peter will work during the break readying the Heritage Building for a new group of boarding female students from Manye Academy Senior High. He will finish his senior high school in spring of 2018 and hopes to go to university to become an engineer.

Peter and Maryanne discussing Peter's future!!

Kingsley (2nd year) and George (1st year) are finishing their term at Community Vocational Development Technical Institute (CDVTI). They are specializing in welding, but taking courses in English, math, computing, government, and some other basic vocational classes. During the break, they will work as "apprentices" to a local welder.

Kingsley and George---"brothers" in the art of welding!

Gifty and Ernestina are finishing their  year at Axim Girls Senior High School. Gifty wants to become a teacher and hopes to attend extension classes from the Winneaba School of Education, held right in Axim at the Manye Academy. Ernestina is about to enter her 3rd year of SHS.
Gifty and Ernestina with Maryanne---PURPLE is the school color!!

Johnson completed Junior High and will enter CDVTI in September and specialize in electrical work. He is working now with his uncle preparing little rubber plant shoots for planting.

Johnson and Maryanne

Godwin is finishing his 2nd junior high school term, and plans to take his BECE exam and graduate in August 2018.

Olivia is an entrepreneur, in business with her Mom, selling gari, a food made from cassava, and other food items.  
Maryanne and Olivia, near her and her Mom's food stand

Gladys is in 3rd level at Manye Academy and Ben in 4th level. These two, with Godwin and a few others, plan to spend time at the Heritage Building during their break, working with the One Laptop Computers, esp. the more advanced learning activities. Have fun and learn at the same time!!

Gladys, Maryanne, Godwin, and Ben

Twelve scholarship students at CDVTI will graduate end of August, specializing in vocations such as hairdressing, sewing, culinary arts, and carpentry. They also have training in entrepreneurship, family/home management, etc. They received Days for Girls and Leadership training in 2016.

Ghana Together scholarship graduates at Community Vocational Development Technical Institute (one is missing)

Thirteen Apewosika Village School-Christ the King scholarship students will graduate Level 6 and start at government-funded junior high school in September. We supported 50 primary students at this school during the 2016-2017 school year, helping this poor fishing neighborhood. Fishing is declining, and the community is struggling.

13 of these students are graduating Grade 6 and are headed for JHS---we are sorry we didn't get a pic of the actual 13!!

Each of these young men and women have been given a chance to overcome their circumstances through education. Ghana is investing liberally in education, with government schools initiating tuition-free senior high school this coming September.

In fact, when we started working in Ghana in 2006, there was no tuition-free education from primary through university.

On behalf of these 74 youngsters we've helped out during the 2016-2017 school year, we thank especially the adults in Axim ---James Kainyiah and Queen Mother Nana Adjow Sika, Evans Arloo (WHH Operations Mgr), Headmistresses/Headmasters, and teachers. Their dedication is inspiring.

 And we thank you, our dear readers...for your support and encouragement.


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Jun 5, 2017

Way to Go Frederick!

Today, June 5, is a BIG day for Frederick Johnson, one of our Western Heritage scholars. He is just ONE of the 468,053 candidates who have sat this very day throughout the entire country for this year’s Basic Education Certificate Examination, which is given at the end of Junior High School.

Frederick Johnson, WHH Scholar, Junior High Graduate, Budding Electrician

In Ghana, education from Kindergarten through Junior High is available to all, boys and girls, and has been tuition-free for about ten years now.

However, there are limited slots for the next level of academic senior high and vocational schools. Hence the importance of the BECE exam, which determines whether or not a student is eligible to continue to the next educational level. The stakes are high!

The exam covers English Language, Ghanaian Language and Culture, Social Studies, Integrated Science, Mathematics, Basic, Design and Technology, Information and Communication Technology, French (optional), Religious and Moral Education. Whew!!

Frederick's dream is to become an electrician. He has already informally apprenticed to Manye Academy’s staff electrician for two years, and is “famous” among his friends for his skills in this area. He will continue this apprenticeship and if his exam results are adequate, we’ll try to find a spot in a vocational/technical school for him.

We've known Frederick since 2008! He has attended Manye Academy since Kindergarten, which is when we got to know this talented, quiet, thoughtful young man. His family situation is such that he lived in the WHH Children’s Home early in his young life and then in the past few years has been a boarding student at Manye Academy.

Young Frederick in 2008, proud to be able to spell his own name!
We’re proud of you, Johnson. 

You will graduate Junior High this Friday, June 9. 


For prior News Updates:

May 22, 2017

The wheels on the bus go… ♬♬

NOPE! Not the wheels but the windscreen, the bonnet, and the bumper... went...not “round, round, round”...but “crash, crash, crash” ---right into the building at the Axim Girls Senior High that houses the water generating plant..
…causing much damage (but not to the water plant--whew!). And James is “working with” the driver…who is OK, but….

…so general consternation all around! Although the Ghana Education Service provided the bus about a year ago, operations, repairs, maintenance are up to the school…and typically this is done through what is known as “the old boys” fund---
…from the very recent days when most high school graduates WERE ”old BOYS”, and were able to collectively donate to alumni funds…

but since this is a new GIRLS’ school, with maybe only a couple of classes graduating and therefore very few “old girls”… not much alumni leverage here…
…and how are the current students living a distance to get to school? Get to another high school for all-important tests? Get to other events like their recent debate with Nsein High School on how to stop corruption (which they WON)…and…

Crammed into a teacher's van to go to debate contest--before new bus came on the scene!

…well, to make a pretty long story a bit shorter, after much “Whatsapping” with James and Headmistress Theodora, we decided to... our bank account of $3000 and get the darned bus FIXED. Unexpected expenses, but we’ve been committed to this school for a long time and this is no time to be slackers!!

...and the windstorm came…and ”whoosh, whoosh, whoosh”…

…and blew off some of the roof of the Heritage Senior High Dormitory Building! BUT generous Aximites got that all back in shape by themselves---thank you, guys!

Thanks for the help, guys. We can see the need for paint, too.

…and then the horn on the ship went “toot, toot, toot”...

…as it pulled into the port at Tema with 982 children’s books on board!
…which at this moment are all processed and ready to flow out to schools via the tricycle mobile library.

Thanks to you all in this sturdy network of collaborators who keep this stream of “literacy enabling devices” going across the great Atlantic!

Library staffer Gaddiel processing the new books! Good guy! He's very skilled at driving the motor tricycle, too.

And on the library front, the new government is pledging to build 60 new public libraries in rural areas, and Axim leaders are requesting one be built there. Wow! Wouldn’t that be great?

Maryanne plans to visit Axim in the next few weeks, following up on the Days for Girls workshop on menstruation, UDDT toilets, library programs, scholarship students (74 at last count, and other projects.   

We thank you, dear readers, for your support and encouragement.
For prior News Updates go to

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Jan 14, 2017

We Can Only Say Thank You

Yes, we are grateful!
The 2nd term of the school year is launched in Axim, Ghana, and we’re happy to report that thanks to YOU, we are able to keep 74 students in school. Support ranges from 100%, including tuition, room, board, books, uniform, underwear, etc. to just tuition with extended families picking up the other costs.

Here’s the breakdown of students

-One is in her senior year of nursing school
-Four are in academic senior high school
-Fourteen are in vocational senior high school
-One is apprenticing with an auto mechanic/garage association
-Two are in junior high
-Fifty-two are in primary school

Most, if not all, simply would not be in school without our help. They pretty much fall into what the Ghana Ministry of Women and Children calls “OVCs” (orphaned and vulnerable children).
In addition, there are 25 boxes of books somewhere on the Atlantic Ocean right now, thanks to a wonderful “chain” that starts with generous donations of high-quality children’s books and culminates with Ghanaian ex-pats who arrange shipping, get the boxes from the ship, and deliver them all the way to Axim Public Library.
They will arrive at the Port in Tema in February and after that to Axim. Thanks to all the hands in the chain!
We add our congratulations to the people of Ghana for holding a peaceful election, and orderly transfer of power on Jan 7, 2017 from President Mahama and the National Democratic Party to the new President, Nana Akufo-Addo, and the New Patriotic Party. The NPP also won a majority in Parliament.
This was their 7th election under their democracy, and with Mr. Addo, they have had 4 different men as President, under their present democratic system.
We really enjoyed President Addo’s inauguration outfit---a mix of traditional kente but with splashes of NOT so traditional hearts, flowers…not sure what it all meant...maybe honoring tradition but signaling love of country with the hearts and new innovative solutions with the flowers, or??--- but it was splendid by all accounts!


Email:  (or just respond to this email)

Mailing Address: 808 Addison Place, Mount Vernon, WA 98273
We are a US-registered 501c3, FED EIN 2182965

Dec 12, 2016

It's All About SCHOOL in Axim, Ghana

These are most of the individual children we've have helped stay in school in 2016, in one way or another (a few of the little guys in blue uniforms couldn't be rounded up for the pic!). Fifteen of these students were in vocational school, learning needed trades. Dozens more were helped by library programs, school building renovations, dormitory hosting, new toilets, information technologies, and workshops.

Dear Friends,

We’ve had a good year!  On behalf of ourselves, our Ghanaian colleagues, and the many children we've helped, we give sincere thanks to all of you financial, in-kind, and “hard-work” investors! 

Please click HERE for our Annual Update Letter (if you haven't already seen it!)

...and HERE for News Updates with photos

Now we're focusing on 2017.

We and our friends in Axim have agreed to focus most of our efforts and resources in 2017 on getting and keeping Axim kids in school.

Here's why:

--Although Ghana has made great strides, and provides tuition-free education through junior high, there are still many children not in school in Axim.

--For some, the government-funded school is beyond reasonable walking distance.

--Some parents can’t come up with the $10 US for each of their children's uniforms, plus additional cost of underwear, notebook, pen, sandals, etc.

--Some students drop out to help fish or farm, so younger siblings can go to school.

--Maybe Mom’s market stall is the sole family income, and she cannot afford to send all her children.

--Maybe the student is capable, but can't fund vocational school, or senior high, which are not tuition-free at this point. 


We have been doing this for ten years, TOGETHER. We have developed effective ways to get and keep kids in school through our partnership with trusted colleagues in Axim, especially Operations Mgr. Evans Arloo’s strong recordkeeping/financial skills, Queen Mom Nana Adjow Sika’s knowledge of families and wise counsel, input from Headmasters/Mistresses, and James Kainyiah’s oversight and business acumen.

Yes, in some cases, we assume all school costs, including room and board. BUT, in most cases, we share responsibility with families.

Our aim is to get as many children as possible through Grade 6, minimum. At that level, they know basic math and English, can participate in their democratic system at the local and national level, read instructions, understand banking, send messages by mobile phone, etc.

And yes, we’ll definitely continue to send children's books to the Axim Public Library, which is serving 15 schools with the Mobile Library. And we'll shore up a few other needs here and there.

We again assure you that we use 100% of your donations toward our projects.  We on the Ghana Together Board handle all administrative costs ourselves, including all travel expenses.
We ask for your financial support for our 2017 goals – focused on the continuing education of Axim’s children - either by check in the mail, or by credit card via the PayPal link on our website.

Ex-pats may want to help their "hometown" anonymously, take advantage of US charitable deductions, and be confident of trustworthy handling of their contributions. 

And, if you are in Ghana, remember every cedi helps! You can deposit funds into the Western Heritage Home account at Ghana Commercial Bank. Contact James Kainyiah at 024-407-2638 for more info. We support businesses locally in Axim as much as possible.

With our sincere thanks…and our very best wishes for you, dear reader, in 2017.

Ghana Together Directors:  Maryanne Ward, Jerome Chandler, Rich Ward, Louise Wilkinson, and Nathan Ward

Mailing Address: 808 Addison Place, Mount Vernon, WA 98273

To help:

Email:  (or just respond to this email)

We are a US-registered 501c3, FED EIN 2182965