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.

Feb 25, 2012

How are things with the WHH Scholars?

Most of our readers know that the residential program at the WHH Children’s Home was phased out in Sept 2011. WHH operated it for about four years, with Ghana Together’s financial support. We shared the details about that transition in our October 2011 news item. I also shared some updated info in my Feb 5 and 6 posts.

I have debated with myself about how to handle this News item, because I know many of you are very interested in individual children, but I also need to protect their privacy. So, I am posting information and also photos without much detail, because I think they tell a rich story. I tried to gather enough information to satisfy myself that things were OK without being intrusive.
Over the course of my stay, I saw most of the children multiple times. I visited most homes, met with the Manye headmaster, some teachers including at both Manye and Brawire/Akyinim, and the accountant at Manye, and in general checked up on each child.  In general, I think they are doing well (i.e., as expected based on prior performance in school, especially).

I found the children eager to take my hand and guide me over the rough paths to their homes. I timed my visits for when I thought at least some family members would be home, and I found a very warm welcome without exception. I was thanked over and over for making school possible by these “guardians”, as Nzema people call any adult who has major responsibility for an individual child, whether biologically connected or not. The older girls, especially, wanted me to see inside their little modest homes, because they had put up some decorations, and wanted me to see where they sleep. They also wanted me to meet their “Aunties” and other family members.

On the path to some of the homes
We found a way for Eric to get back in school. He’ll live in the Manye Academy student hostel, usually reserved for children who live in far-flung villages, but have exceptional academy ability. He'll have a sleeping area and food, plus school is right there. His computer teacher will be his “mentor”. A call yesterday informed me that Manye Headmaster says he can start Monday (Feb 27) and doesn’t have to wait for the next term (bless you Mr. Kofi).
Manye Student Hostel where Eric will Live

In summary, I feel really relieved that we are on the other side of this transition. I feel I know these children pretty well and it is my assessment that in general all is well, thanks to their new families and our continuing support, without which they would not be in school. Most pass by Mr. Bentil's office every day, and he does keep rapport with them.

I asked each one, semi-privately, how things were “going at home”, etc. Without exception, they were positive.  All answered "yes" to whether they were getting enough "chop" (food). I asked them what they missed about living at Heritage, and they mostly referred to the short walk to school, tables and lights at night to do homework, and their OLPCs!

Several said they liked how they now lived “in the neighborhood” with their friends. They said they now have to work harder. When I asked what work, they said carrying water, cooking, and helping their “Aunties”. They obviously are still very close to each other. Dorothy is still the “senior sister”, more or less taking charge when they’re together. I think they have a feeling of belonging and feeling "normal" --- worth a lot!

Here are some photos: enjoy. I will post a subsequent item about Emmanuella, our blind student who is now at the "Deaf/Blind" School in Cape Coast.

WHH Scholars are school...not all are pictured
Dorothy writing the "lesson" on the board, for has classmates to copy into their exercise books. She is copying from the one textbook which the teacher has.

Johnson and Elijah the taxi driver. Elijah has been the regular driver for WHH and considers himself "part of the team." He himself lives in the neighborhood where several of the children live. He is an informal mentor to these children---an all-around great guy. HIs taxi is named "Elijahlina" and his daughter is called by the same name! His taxi is also the taxi used in the "Mobile Library by Taxi" program of the Axim Public Library.
Olivia and her family
Dorothy, Ernestina, and Gifty all live here in adjacet homes
One of the boys and his "brother"
B and G with their biological Grandma. Her leg has healed pretty well, and she manages with the help of a neighbor woman. All three are happy to be together. Her typical traditional welcome to me could not have been more gracious: "Akwaaba. You are welcome here."
Isaac and Stephen, near their home. Still "brothers".
Philo and "Grandma"
George and family
Peter and his "brother", Mr. Bentil's Son

I stopped by Charlotte's home--which looked rather substantial---but she was on the other side of town at a friend's house and I didn't get back there. I also missed Lamie's family. The children told me he is one of the best footballers in Axim!

These children are on their way. For their North American friends who have faithfully supported them over the years, and continue to do so, I can only say thank you on behalf of the children and their new families.  Without you, they would not be in school, for sure.

For the WHH staff who cared for them and their new families, a big thank you. They are "doing well", as Barbara Davis the Home's former "Mother" told me when I visited her family in Takoradi.

They are the faces of Ghana---living humbly, enough food most days, struggling for drinkable water, determined in all things educational. Polite, well-mannered, calm, warm and welcoming, proud of their Nzema culture and to be Ghanaians!