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.

Mar 30, 2015

Please, Books with More Words, Mum...

Our readers know we’ve been focusing on the Public Library (APL) in Axim, Ghana, for some time now---since Feb 2010, in fact, when Maryanne Ward and Regina Lawler---personal friends, intrepid travelers, professional librarians, and Ghana Together volunteers---noticed a distinct lack of children’s books in the APL.

We met with Library Director Mercy Ackah and Western Heritage Home Chair James Kainyiah, who asked for help with the APL children's program. They set up a children's room with help from us and the District Assembly.  But, we needed BOOKS---lots of books!

By 2012 we had a network of dedicated people in place and were shipping children’s books.

By 2014, we had hundreds (thousands?) of books, but the motorcycle they were using to deliver to a few very nearby schools had failed beyond repair. More schools were asking for help. So Western Heritage Home and Ghana Together decided to buy a motor tricycle and outfit it as a mobile library. It was dedicated fall of 2014.

Mobile Library Ready to Launch!!
By Jan 2015, the APL was ready to launch a Mobile Library Service to schools.
Maryanne Ward visited in Jan-Feb 2015 and got a first-hand project update.

Library staffers Gaddiel Eyison (right) and James Amrado pack up boxes of books to deliver to schools, via the Mobile Library
The Mobile Library visits seven government primary schools in Axim: Anglican, Catholic, Methodist, Beamish, Akyinim, Apewosika, and AhleSunna. (Yes, we know it's a bit confusing to Americans. The schools with religious names were founded by Christian missionaries or local Muslims in the early to mid-20th century, and although they are now "government" (public) schools, they retain their original names.)

The Mobile Library also serves five private schools: Morning Star, Augustino, Manye, SADA, and CTK.

When the Mobile Library arrives at a school, the Headmaster/Mistress commandeers some strong JHS students to help carry in the boxes
Students pay one Ghana cedi to register for one year (about 30 cents). This is affordable by all, although we’ve let the library staff know if even this is too much for a specific family, we will help.

Students giving their one-cedi bills to Mr. Eyison to register as library members for one year
The registration fee helps the library pay for the cards, envelopes,  pens, glue markers, and other supplies.

Students who are registered check out one book per Mobile Library visit. Students are allowed to swap books with other students who are registered (a little pressure here!).

By end of Feb 2015, 2,465 students had registered!!

Students gather round to select their book for the week---big decision!!
Library members are instructed to “take your book to the house and read it to your mother.” In this way, Moms not only can proudly see their child’s reading ability, but also may learn a little literacy themselves and be able to help younger children not yet in school.

What could be better than this???!!!
So far, we have focused on the lower primary grades through about 4th grade, with “easy readers.” Remember, schools have no or very limited libraries. Kids mostly only read what their teacher writes on the board and what they copy into their notebooks.

Girls read...

Boys read too...

But Maryanne heard over and over from students that they want “books with more words.” The older children have pretty good reading skills now, and they want something besides “Picture Books.”

If you have children/youth books around, you know who to contact!

The guidelines?
If you would buy the book today for your child or grandchild, you hit the jackpot! It’s good to go! Think ANY good children's books, but especially story books or children's non-fiction.


...textbooks, computer books, old encyclopedias, overtly culturally “American”---zombies, religious tracts, American holidays, cookbooks, Disney, Superman, American literary “classics” (Emerson, Hawthorne, Mark Twain…)---you get the idea! Nothing but the BEST for our kids in Axim!! Fiction or non-fiction, both OK.


--Book donors---every one of you!!

--Ebeneezer Mienza who lives in Maryland, receives our US Postal mailed books, knows a shipper...

--Shipper, whoever you are...

--Ghanaians George Hayford and Ismael Baidoo who live in Accra and go to the port at Tema to pick up the books and drive them in their van to their own hometown, Axim...

--Ghana Library Authority Regional Director Mercy Ackah who launched the project in Axim in 2010 and continues to lead the effort...

--Gaddiel Eyison, James Amrado, and National Service worker Frederick Aman who staff the library, ride the motor tricycle, do all the hard work of packing and unpacking and checking in and checking out...

--Axim Municipal Assembly for fuel for the motor tricycle...

--James Kainyiah and Western Heritage Home for having the Mobile Library idea in the first place and staying on top of everything month by month...

--All the headmistresses/masters and teachers who make it work at the schools!

And, if you are reading this and have connections with other Ghanaian Nzema East/Western Region towns that have libraries, you know who to contact for some ideas on how you can replicate this model. They are asking for some help, but we can’t really expand to their areas.
To contact us:
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Mar 4, 2015


As of 2014, The Axim Girls Senior High School (AGSHS) has computers---lots of computers---thanks to the Ghana Education Service! AND, they have an ICT (information/computer technology) lab! This is no small miracle and is testimony to Ghana’s commitment to education, especially girls’ education.

BUT, in spite of all that, Axim is still woefully short on internet access, especially to an entire high school computer lab. And now they have all these nice shiny new desktops and laptops with wireless capability. What to do??

Enter Adam Holt and the computer wizards of Unleash Kids ( They knew about Ghana Together, because in their earlier days they were the folks who helped create the One Laptop Per Child XO computers. We have a nice XO collection in the Children’s Lab in Axim, right next the Public Library.

Adam asked if we’d like them to set up the first “Internet-In-A-Box” in Ghana! Well, YES, we certainly would!

And so, we learned that IIAB is a very small “server”, about 6” square, which contains:   

--all of Wikipedia through 2013, plus simpler versions in English, French, Arabic, and Swahili

--hundreds of Khan Academy math and science videos

--dictionaries, maps, books, medical info

--and much more…  

How could so much fit into such a small box??? (We read recently that Wikipedia, printed out, would take at least 1000 volumes!)

Adam's team took over Maryanne's internet connection for about twelve hours and "loaded" the server from Toronto...
See the little square silver-colored "box" on the small table? That's it!! Impossibly small.
We contacted James Kainyiah, our Western Heritage Home associate and, conveniently (!), current Chair of the AAGHS Board, and also Headmistress Stella Adjei, who has been transferred.  They were enthusiastic, and current Headmistress Theodora Appiah was no less so.

They connected us with Jerry Kwofie, ICT teacher, who gave us enough technical information about computers and had the technical savvy to give us confidence to go forward.

So Adam and Maryanne Ward were off to Ghana with about 35 lbs. of cables and connectors and lots of other “stuff”. With the help of our wonderful friends George Hayford and Ishmael Baidoo in Accra, found the right solar panels and a 12-volt battery. In Axim, we found the all-important soldering iron.
Ishmael Baidoo, George Hayford, and Adam Holt, at an electronics store in Accra, Ghana

And so, with about $2000 worth of equipment, we were ALL SET!

Maryanne with about 35 lbs of components
At the AGSHS, with the total support of Western Heritage Home leaders, and wonderful help of Headmistress Appiah, Jerry Kwofie, Eric Jim (science teacher), and Evans Arloo (WHH Operations Mgr), plus the other teachers and the students themselves, somehow we got it all to work!!

The President of the Nzema Youth Association (left), James Kainyiah, and Headmistress Theodora Appiah discussing the IIAB project
We used solar power technology as part of the girls’ science training. They can see, on the computers, a screen that graphs the solar power.

They helped set it up and have at least a rudimentary understanding of how it works. Because of the frequent power outages from the grid, we had to have solar power to make it work.

Eric Jim (science), Evans Arloo (WHH Operations Mgr), Adam Holt, Jerry Kwofie (computer teacher) and Maryanne Ward with the solar panels
The science class sets up the panels
Adam helps them verify that the panels are working!
Another class checks...YES, WE DID IT!!!
Thanks to the Vodafone staff in Axim who helped set up a minimal internet connection to one computer (plus the amazing skills of Adam and Jerry), we were able to connect with Unleash Kids experts Tim and George. From the East Coast of the United States, these two guys could “see” (literally with Skype) what was going on at the AGSHS and give technical support at every juncture.
Teachers were trained

Over two weeks, we tried to train every teacher and all 120 students. The girls were amazed to read about the history of Axim! One girl learned what menstruation really is. The literature teacher found the biographies of the African authors she was teaching. The Social Studies teacher had a class on “gender” the very next day, and got more information than she knew what to do with. One girl looked up her friend’s town on the map application....just a few examples...

The computers access the Internet-In-A-Box in much the same way that they access the actual internet---wirelessly, and with protocols common to typical internet use. This is an educational project, for study, and research. One interesting feature is the ability of teachers to post their handouts on the server.

Teacher Jerry Kwofie and Adam train the students

The school staff will move the ICT lab with the IIAB into the new two-story classroom building probably in mid-April. They will mount the solar panels on the south side of the roof, where the sun shines the most and where they'll be the safest.
New classroom building thanks to the efforts of Chief Awulae Attibrukusu III and the Ghana National Petroleum Council

Adam and his team will continue to give technical support, from the US via a real internet connection on one of the computers, if needed. Ghana Together will stay in contact with Headmistress Appiah and others.

It will take time for this resource to be fully integrated into the school's normal operations, both for teachers and for students. It’s hard to imagine the vast amount of information in this little box.

In 2003, a survey found that only about 7% of women in Nzema East District had a senior high school education. The Axim community founded the AGSHS as a direct response. Started in 2007, the school now has 120 students and is growing rapidly with girls attending from various parts of the country.
This is our 4th project at the school in the past few years. At their request, we provided about 50 scientific non-graphing calculators (we always need more!). We installed a hands-on science room. This year we renovated and furnished a run-down building on campus that is now an assembly/dining/study hall.

And no, Ghanaians don't speak Swahili, but since it was the ONLY African language offered, we took it just for fun!!!

We can’t think of a better investment! We give all our thanks to all you “investors”, both here in the US and in Ghana. Good work!
For more info and prior News Updates, see
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