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 http://ghanatogether.org tells our story.

Jun 27, 2018

"Meat and potatoes" at AGSHS


Our last News Update was so satisfying for us---Graduations! Missions accomplished! Young people launching the next phase of their lives!
This one is more prosaic…but we want to share it anyway because it’s just so great in its own way…J

First a bit of background:

In 2009. Axim started its Axim Girls Senior High School with 23 students, after years of work and the support of Chief Awulae, Member of Parliament Catherine Afeku, Founding Headmistress Mrs. Bonku, businessman and Western Heritage Home Chairman James Kainyiah, and so many other local leaders. As Chief Awulae said so many times:

 “Educate a woman and you educate a family.”

AGSHS became “certified” as an accredited senior high in 2012. We published a News Update about it back then: http://ghanatogether.blogspot.com/2012/05/axim-ghana-all-girls-senior-high-school.html.

We’ve helped the school a bit over the years---some science resources, scientific calculators, “Science News” magazines, internet-in-a-boxes, a few scholarships, renovated a building to be an assembly/dining/meeting hall, and repaired the damaged school bus. The Tullow Oil Company came through with 2 classroom buildings, a 200-bed dormitory, and two computer labs.

By September of 2016, the Axim Girls Senior High School had 88 new first-year students. Each student paid hefty fees for tuition, books, lab fees, supplies, and room and board….beyond most families economically…especially for daughters.

Then…WHAT A CHANGE! The newly-elected Ghanaian government implemented the long-held national dream/promise to focus on education—for sons AND daughters. It started funding “free” academic senior high school for newly incoming freshman---even including room and board if needed.

What a change! AGSHS had 210 new first-year incoming students in September 2017!
The “free” SHS has now extended to all three years. So, when Maryanne Ward visited the school in May 2018, there were just over 350 students in the entire school. More than 500 are expected in September 2018! We are hoping/praying that Ghana can somehow keep this all going…not easy.

What a challenge for Principal Madame Theodora Appiah and her staff! To go from 23 students to more than 500 in not quite 10 years! 

When Maryanne asked what she needed, Madame smiled. 

---How about a new dorm for 500 girls? Completely furnished! And yes, with modern toilets, showers… and please throw in a completely reliable source of water
---Always-on electricity would certainly be welcome! 
---And, oh, could you throw in a complete, fully-equipped science lab so the girls don’t have to take the bus to Nsein Senior High School, a half-hour ride each way at least, way over in the next town, for once-in-a-while physics and chemistry labs…since, of course (!), they are deeply into “STEM”--- teaching those girls science and technology and math... 
--- and, oh, for sure…we need an assembly/dining hall that’s at least 3 times as big…and…
Well, all that was a bit beyond our bank account, but we did settle on Mrs. Appiah’s TOP PRIORITY…a...PHOTOCOPIER/PRINTING MACHINE

Yes! That we could manage, so...our Ghanaian Western Heritage Home Operations Manager Evans Arloo traveled to some schools to check on their machines, and to the city of Takoradi, and here we are...in time for the September start of the 2018-2019 school year!
How does this thing work, anyway??



Wow! 21st Century Technology Coming to good old Axim!!



Principal Theodora Appiah and Her New Machine! Thanks you all!


And, well, if you know someone who can help her with all the other stuff, you know who to contact!

Ghana Together
website: http://ghanatogether.org
email: info@ghanatogether.org










Jun 11, 2018

They DID It!!

Remember those Western Heritage Home Scholars(?)…the ones we’ve written so much about over the years? Well, as of about a week ago, SIX of them have graduated!

And we are pleased to give each of the four senior high graduates the “Leif Pederson Graduation Award” in the amount of $300 US --- about 3-4 months income for basic work in Axim, Ghana.

We lost Leif, one of Ghana Together’s founding members, in 2010, but the children remember “Uncle Leif”, and his computers and just his fun ways with them, and we know he would be so very proud of them.

We got to know all six because they spent their early years living in the Western Heritage Children’s Home. Western Heritage Home, our associate NGO in Ghana, and we have supported these young men and women in one way or another since 2007, so yes, we are proud of them!

Western Heritage Home Children in 2007. Our newest graduates are somewhere in this pic!

Dorothy has graduated with an Nursing Associate degree from the Asante Nursing School. She will be placed by the Ghanaian Government in a locale needing medical staff in the near future. Meanwhile, she is supporting herself by working with the cleaning staff at the Lou Moon Resort not far from Axim.

Peter graduated from Nsein Senior High School. He took all the "extra" classes in science and math, and dreams of becoming a computer engineer. His WASSCE test scores (like our SAT) will be available in September. Meanwhile, he is considering offers for two teacher positions (math and science skills are scarce and so even at this stage he can help younger students) and/or a position in a bank until his future educational plans materialize.

Ernestina (left) and Gifty have graduated from Axim Girls Senior High School. Both have already had some experience in market selling, and plan to use their Graduation Awards to start their own businesses

Kingsley has graduated from the Axim Community Development Vocational and Technical Institute. He has specialized in Welding and Fabrication. He has done some apprentice work, and his training at CDVTI included business and computer skills, English, and entrepreneurship as well as training in his technical specialty. He is looking for a job!

Godwin has graduated from Manye Junior High School. He will next attend Kikkam Technical Institute, which offers a wide range of vocational/technical classes for further training. 

We (and they) have so many to thank!
-James Kainyiah, Founder/Chair of Western Heritage Home, and Evans Arloo, WHH Operations Manager who managed the relationships with the schools, teachers and keep the program going, no matter what!

-To Sue, who generously provided the funds for the awards
-Mindy and family who supported Ernestina all through senior high

-Gary and the Mount Vernon, WA Kiwanis who supported Peter for many years, and also the Bentil family in Axim who gave him a home and some business experience during his vacations
-Bonnie who supported Dorothy through nurses training

-James and Beatrice Kainyiah who took Godwin into their own family home along with their own children, for his entire primary school years, until he became a Junior High Boarding Student at Manye Academy (common in Axim)
-Madame Felicia Attah, teacher and now Headmistress of Manye Academy who took a special interest in these children, and also Madame Safiatu Seidu, Director of the Community Development Vocational/Technical Institute, and Madame Theodora Appiah, Principal of Axim Girls Senior High School, and the teachers and staff of each of the schools

-And all of you wonderful “investors” who enabled us to support these children for their entire schooling, in one way or another.
We give these new graduates our congratulations, and our confidence in them, and our best wishes as they launch their adult lives!


AND, we're not done yet!! Come September and start of the 2018-2019 school term, we hope to support 70 students in one way or another. (Did we mention how much fun this is?) Stay tuned!

Thank you...thank you...

Ghana Together
http://ghanatogether.org
info@ghanatogether.org


May 30, 2018

Reviewing Axim Schools' Use of the Mobile Library

This May, Ghana Together’s Maryanne Ward visited Axim. For two days, she joined Regional Library Director Mercy Ackah and Western Heritage Home Operations Manager Evans Arloo as they reviewed the mobile library service with Headmistresses/Masters and Library Teachers at 17 schools.

"Madame Mercy", as she is known, trying out the tricycle mobile library. No she doesn't drive it herself---she has Gaddiel Eyison, her library lead staff, to do that!!
At the beginning of September 2014 school term, the tricycle-based mobile library was dedicated. The library staff began delivering books to area primary/JHS schools. Ghana Together has provided about 8,000 high-quality children’s books counting those currently on a ship heading across the Atlantic!
The mobile library program is geared to “bring the library to the children” rather than expecting the children to consistently visit the library. It visits each school once/per week, depending some on whether the District Assembly has helped fund the fuel.


Since schools don’t have libraries or in many cases textbooks, this is a vital service to encourage literacy, especially for primary school students.

At the end of the Jan-early April term, 779 Axim-area students are registered library card holders, and the children had checked out a total of 8,622 books.


Meeting with Headmaster and Library Teacher
We visited every school, met with the Headmistress/Master and/or the Library Teacher. We took photos below the "school sign" to document the visits!














 






We thank all the generous Americans who have donated high-quality books over the years (...if it's good for your kids or grandkids, it's good for the kids of Axim!!!). They have gone from almost none to a good collection from the very beginner's books to a growing number for JHS level.

We especially thank the Axim Public Library staff and the school leaders for working together to develop this program on behalf of children in Axim.

Ghana Together
808 Addison Place
Mount Vernon, WA 98273
Email: info@ghanatogether.org



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

Email: info@ghanatogether.org




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:
MAKING LEADERS OF THE LEAST!
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!

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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.”
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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.







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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

Email: info@ghanatogether.org