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 20, 2020

Ghana Together News Update

We haven’t posted News Updates for quite a while…because frankly, things in Ghana, as here in the US, are changing very rapidly due to the Covid-19 virus.



We were kind of surprised and yes, a bit proud, to see members of our own US Congress wearing kente cloth stoles in the past week...truly Ghanaian artistic cultural expression. 

Yes, Ghana is struggling with Covid-19. They experienced it somewhat later than we did here in the US, and closed down schools, group gatherings, etc. very quickly, which has helped to contain the spread. They have instituted social/physical distancing, masks, hand-washing, cleaning in the markets, and general precautions against crowds, etc. Folks there have had experience with pandemics, due to HIV-AIDS and Ebola. But it’s very difficult in their environment with open markets, close living quarters, inadequate sanitation, etc.

In Axim they have in the past few weeks installed many “Veronica buckets” (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Veronica_Bucket). These hand-washing stations were invented some years ago by Ghanaian biological scientist Veronica Bekoe during the HIV-AIDs epidemic. She spent her career working for the Ghana Health Service and has been honored for this contribution to public health. Veronica buckets are widely used worldwide where “running water” is not readily available. About ten years ago, Jeanie Birchall, a nurse from Bellingham, WA, facilitated a connection with generous employees from the Whatcom County Health Department in Bellingham, WA. They enabled Ghana Together to help  Axim leaders install 64 of these hand-washing stations in Axim schools. So, in this pandemic, Axim folks are familiar with this resource.

An Veronica bucket in use---photo taken in 2010
Meanwhile, schools are closed. Our university scholars are trying to study online, but it’s tough with not very good internet and with neither faculty nor students having had prior experience at this. The other scholars we support are not in school. In a country that has so recently made such outstanding progress in providing tuition-free education to every child, even through senior high school, this is very tough.

MEANWHILE, in the midst of all this, work on the new Axim Library building, which was launched in January 2020, continues! Construction work is allowed with certain precautions. They sent a few wonderful new pictures late this week. They are making good progress, understandably slowed by the virus, with fewer working simultaneously, etc.

The "uprights" are installed and they've been working on the upper level.

Work commences on the top of the future building. It's good also to keep these workers on the job!

We are really proud of Frederick J, in blue shirt.. He's one of our WHH Scholars who is getting his technical education in electrical work. And he's contributing his knowledge to the new library project!

And this is the "dream" we and our Ghanaian Western Home and Ghana Library Authority colleagues keep in our minds and hearts! One day...before too long...
The project is managed by the Axim "team"---James Kainyiah, Overall Manager; Evans Arloo, Site Manager; Mr. Cobbinah, Community Leader; Madame Mercy Ackah, Regional Librarian; and the community support of the “CodeLibrary” group. They are a group of “elders” who have supported and encouraged this project from the start and made their enthusiasm well-known! We love this! In Ghana, “elders” have a certain authority and respect in the community! If you have elders on your side, your chances of success are very high. Thank you!! 

We are so grateful and inspired by these local Ghanaian leaders. And by YOU, our faithful “investors”, who we thank from the bottom of our hearts! With your help, we will see this project to fruition. You do so much good! And yes, we could use a bit more help…We're starting to look at the interior furnishings, including shelving, staff workspaces, community room seating, mosquito screening, internet access, etc.

Until next time...please take care, all of you...wherever you may be at this moment...


Email: info@ghanatogether.org


808 Addison Place, Mount Vernon, WA 98273



Jan 17, 2020

Libation Is Poured! New Library Is Launched!

But...first... the "elders" had to meet and decide whether or not the idea of a new purpose-built library in Axim makes good sense! Thank you!


And then...the official paperwork! 

Here we see Madame Mercy Ackah, former Librarian in Axim and now Regional Library Director, along with Mr. Isaac Bentil, an official Axim "elder" and church leader. Between them, they represented the Ghana Library Authority, the land owner, the Methodist Church, and the Axim community. They are officially signing the paperwork, transferring the  land title and the old Methodist Church building to the Ghana National Library Authority. 


Mercy Ackah and Isaac Bentil sign land and building transfer
But, although official signatures are required for land, that's not quite the final act! We are grateful to the Chief of Upper Axim. This land is traditionally his "tribal" land. And so, he came to pour a libation on the land, honoring the centuries of ancestors who had used that very land for so many purposes.

He poured a bit of "spirits" on this very land, asking all those who have gone before to bless this new enterprise for their "children" of today. And by doing so, he also signified to the whole community of Axim that, in his official role as traditional leader of his people, he has declared the land is now dedicated to a new purpose-built library for the whole community. Wow!
  
The traditional chief pours a libation, with Library staff, community leaders, and Western Heritage Home Chairman James Kainyiah (far right) serving as witnesses
So, now that the paperwork is in place and the libation has been poured, we know FOR SURE that the new Axim Library building project is officially launched!



The land for the new Axim Public Library has been acquired! Right in the middle of downtown! Very near 4 primary schools, with literally several hundred kids within walking distance. Perfect!


But...there is a very old, unused, and, given the earthquake potential in this area, unsafe building owned by the Methodist Church on the land. So, thank you (!) Methodist Church for generously handing over the old building to the Ghana Library Authority for a very modest sum, and adding their own "blessing" to the project. 

 

And so the teardown and site preparation began as of a couple of weeks ago!




Mercy Ackah, James Kainyiah, one of the elders, Library staffer Gaddiel, and Assembly member Mr. Afull oversee the demolition



We are grateful to the local neighbors who are supporting the project in spite of the disruptions caused by the noise, dust, machinery, etc. We especially thank the woman in this picture (center background), whose highly-decorated "cooking station" will have to be removed in order to make way for the machinery. It will be replaced. She supports the library because she herself has young children and she wants them to have this resource.



As we write this article, we can report good progress is being made. Here are pictures from earlier this week.



As our readers are well aware, we of Ghana Together have been working with Western Heritage Home on public library projects for about ten years now. 




---shipped about 18,000 children's books and bought many there

---installed three dozen or so One Laptop per Child computers and a half dozen adult type

--outfitted a children's room with benches, tables, etc.

 ---helped WHH procure a large "tricycle" to serve as a mobile library that now serves 17 schools. 

---have about 30-40 newly refurbished computers waiting to outfit a new computer lab in the new library when it opens, thanks to Legacy SHS in Marysville, Washington

...And more...



SO...this project to build a new library is a continuation of many years of effort. 


We are inspired by the Ghana National Library Authority, a national level governmental department that owns, staffs, and supervises public libraries in Ghana, with support from locally-elected District Assemblies. 

Leaders like Madame Ackah, her superior the GHLA Director Hayford Siaw, and the local leaders pictured here are mounting an all-out campaign to put Ghana's public libraries in the forefront. 

Ghana now has tuition-free education, K-12---quite a miracle in itself, which we have personally experienced on our visits, culminating in senior high about 3-4 years ago. They see public libraries as undergirding that effort, providing early learning for pre-school level, continuing education and educational resources for all students, and finally offering lifelong learning for everyone including grandmas and grandpas reading for themselves and their families.




We in America are so familiar with public library services, that we sometimes forget how blessed we are!


And yes, we know the traditional "giving" season is over, and we are totally grateful to our "investors" but...yes! we could use some extra help to put this very special, one-time "legacy project" over the top!





808 Addison Place, Mount Vernon, WA 98273





Email: info@ghanatogether.org