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 10, 2012

Loving "Hands-On": The Anglican Creche Update

Wow! You’ll LOVE these photos! They were not staged---this is just what I saw when I strolled unannounced into the St. Mary’s crèche today.

First some background.
We seem to be focusing on the “hands-on” front right now---hands-on science for the JHS and hands-on Montessori-style for the little guys. Ghana’s education “style” is very rote---maybe we’re inserting a little variety into the mix. As Eric Jimpetey-Dyan, the science room supervisor says, “Use your hands and brains.”

In the 2009 timeframe, St. Philip’s Episcopal Church in Rochester, Michigan partnered with the St. Mary the Virgin Anglican Church in Axim to create a crèche---as it’s called here---similar to our pre-schools/daycare in the US. Ghana Together and Western Heritage Home fostered the relationship along, and provided some communication and coordination.
St. Philips worked with the Axim church to renovate one building and build a second. They now have two nice classrooms and one small room for eating lunch, storing the water basin, changing clothes, etc.

St. Philip’s not only provided the buildings, but provided a substantial assortment of Montessori-style learning materials. Regina Lawler of St. Philips visited Axim and gave a workshop to teachers in 2010, and also provided for one of the teachers to get some training. But the concepts were just too new. When I visited the crèche two weeks ago, I saw little understanding of the hands-on style of learning that works best with these small children, ages about 2-4. Most of the materials, puzzles, games, etc. were still carefully stored in their plastic wraps---common here where any materials are scarce and people hardly dare touch them for fear of “spoiling” them. I’ve tried to give them confidence that it’s OK to use them.
So, I’ve been giving brief on-the-spot training on most days. FUN! Not that I know much about it! Not having been there for a couple of days, today I saw clearly the fruits of all the hard work of the crèche teachers, Philo and Grace, to incorporate these new ideas into their work. I think they’ve got the concept! They are excited; I am excited! This is downright exciting!

The parents pay 5 cedis (about $3.00) for admission and 20 cedis (about $14) for a three-month term. Seems like a small amount, but it is out of reach of most. 35 students are now enrolled---split between the two classrooms. They could comfortably handle about 10-15 more. It’s open to all children, not just Anglican folks. Most of the Moms are “market women.” They say it’s easier for them to work in the market without these little ones under foot. A few Dads have stopped to pick up their children, too.

St Mary’s is slowly taking more ownership of the program. They fixed 2 of the fans. They are planning better storage for the materials. The priest, Father Ghartey---new to Axim---is trying to figure out why the DVD player in the crèche won’t play the great instructional DVD’s St. Philips provided, when his own plays them just fine. He is amazed by them and wants the children to see them and to share them with the Axim Library. Today he brought over his own player and said they can use that until he figures it out or buys a new one for them. A committee was formed in early 2011, headed by Fr. G himself and Madame Hagar, a laywoman. We have challenged them to support maybe 2-3 children whose parents can’t afford the program.
They saw a TV program about a pre-school in Accra, and painted their wall just like the one in the program! With letters of the alphabet, etc.

And so it goes...also worked on KVIP toilets today, but that’s another subject altogether!! Also lucked out food-wise, because the Adamus Gold Mining guys from Australia came HERE, an the Ghanaian staff prepared a huge tuna just pulled in "from the sea" today!!  Maryanne Ward from Axim, Ghana