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.

Oct 29, 2010

New Desks For Anglican "A" Primary School

Students from Axim's Anglican "A" Primary School help carry into their school 50 new student desks. Western Heritage Home (WHH), with funding assistance from Ghana Together, presented the desks, two teachers' desks and two teachers' chairs. The school is running split shifts, due to overcrowding.  However, two of the usable classrooms, with good roofs, could not be used because there were no desks for the children. Now at least 80 more children will be able to attend school all day, thanks to generous friends.

The desks were built by Mr. Francis Amokwaw, a local Axim carpenter with a shop near the school, at a cost of about $1400 US. Francis used native Ghana hardwood for long-lasting durability. In a note to Ghana Together, Mrs. Cecilia Nokoe, Headmistress, and the Rev. F.B. Dickson, Parish Priest, extended their thanks from the entire school and church. Isaac Bentil oversaw the project on behalf of WHH. Nana Adjow Sika II, Queen Mother of Upper Axim Traditional Council, lay leader in the Anglican Church, and WHH Board Member, assisted in the dedication of the desks.

The Anglican School in Axim is a "government school"---what we in the US would call a "public school." However, Anglican missionaries built the school early in the 20th century, and while the St. Mary's Anglican Church still owns the building, the Axim Education Dept runs the programs, provides teachers, and pays per capita amounts for each student enrolled. The "Methodist" and "Catholic" schools in Axim are managed under the same arrangement.

Ghana Together is delighted to be able to help WHH, a Ghanaian-registered NGO managed by Mr. James Kainyiah, Board Chair, and Mr. Isaac Bentil, Managing Director. WHH is a community-based charity NGO focused mostly on children and health.

Sep 28, 2010

Axim Muslim Community Celebrates End of Ramadan With Gifts

The WHH Children's Home was delighted to receive 200 lbs of rice and two gallons of cooking oil, along with tomato paste and other food items, from the local Muslim community youth in celebration of the end of Ramadan. With both WHH scholars and staff as well as Muslim community members looking on, Mr. Isaac Bentil, Managing Director of Western Heritage Home, accepts these generous gifts from the Imam of the Axim Muslim community.

The WHH Children's Home is a community-based Home. It accepts children from all faiths, if it is determined that there is no reasonable "family alternative." We of Ghana Together, a US-based 501c3 non-profit, provide most of the funding for the daily operation of the Children's Home and other Axim projects helping children. We are so grateful for these gifts from the local Axim community and proud that the Children's Home merits the support of local folks. If you would like to join in this circle of friendship, from Ghana you can contact Western Heritage Home staff in Axim directly, or go to http:/ for more information. Thank you!

Sep 6, 2010

Cooking at the WHH Children's Home: Gas Ring versus Coal Pot

This past month, Western Heritage Home purchased a "gas ring" cooker to supplement or even replace the "coal pot" technology. Shown here is the new propane gas cooker and a traditional coal pot. The gas ring is a big improvement because it burns cleanly, eliminating the smoke inhalation that plagues cooks in Ghana. It also eliminates the need for charcoal, which is a big problem in countries like Ghana where forests are being depleted. The gas cooker itself cost about $50 US. There is a challenge because the propane to fill the gas cylinder is not always available in Axim. The staff will keep the coal pot and have charcoal on hand for those times when propane runs out and none can be purchased. The photo above shows the cooking process: large "head pan" for cleaning the fish or vegetables, coal cooker and small pot, and large "soup pot". The cooks typically sit on the low stools. The older WHH girls have all learned to cook; girls are allowed to help from the youngest age---in this case, helping to peel the shallots.

Aug 28, 2010

WHH Internet Cafe/Computer Lab Gets Air Conditioning

Mr. Isaac Bentil, Managing Director of Western Heritage Home in Axim, Ghana, oversees "Emma", the technican from Zain Corporation, as he installs an air conditioning unit in the WHH Community Learning Center's Internet Cafe/Computer Learning Laboratory. WHH staff entered the "Zain's Touching Lives" content, winning a complete computer lab, with ten desktops, software, peripherals, and the all important high-speed internet service. The AC will be operated only on an as-needed basis, to conserve energy.

The lab is up and running, with customers coming to use the internet and students taking advantage of beginning computer classes as they prepare for the ICT sections of their final exams.

WHH will also install a few webcams and headsets, so families can "talk" to each other long distance via internet. The internet cafe will be a new and needed link for Nzema families as they stay in touch with extended family members living in other parts of the world. Ex-pats who may be reading this might wish to remind their families in the Nzema area about this new service. Staff at WHH stand ready to help folks set up emails, learn the ropes, and get launched! There is a reasonable fee for the service.Any profits will go to buying food and school costs for the children who reside at WHH's Children's Home.

Ghana Together helped with technical advice and some equipment and software not readily available in Ghana. We're proud that the facility we helped build is being put to such good use by our friends in Axim.

Jun 14, 2010

We Lose Our Friend Leif

In the early evening of June 12, 2010, Ghana Together and Western Heritage Home lost our dear friend Leif Pederson. In spite of doctors’ best effort, his life could not be saved. And so we must say goodbye to our brother who has been part of our Ghana Together team since its inception, first as a delegate on our first journey under the sponsorship of Global Citizen Journey, and for three years as a Ghana Together Board member, serving as Vice President of Technology and Planning. Leif also served as Advisory Member of the Western Heritage Home Board, our partner NGO working with us in Axim, Ghana. We thank God for Leif’s life, and ask comfort for his family and friends across the globe. For those reading this who may wish to send their condolences to Leif’s family and close circle of friends, we invite emails addressed to

Leif K. PEDERSON Born Chicago, IL September 18, 1957; Died Seattle, WA June 12, 2010. Dearly beloved son, brother, husband, father, uncle and member of both local and global communities.

Leif passed away peacefully at Harborview Hospital after suffering sudden, unexpected complications from surgery six weeks prior.

Leif attended the University of Illinois (Bachelor's degree Computer Engineering, 1979) and the University of California-Berkeley (Master's degree Electri cal Engineering, 1981). Highlights of Leif's professional life include 6 years at AT&T in Boulder, Colorado and 15 years as a high level manager at Microsoft. He has two US patents in his name.

Since retiring from Microsoft in 2003, Leif contributed to many global humanitarian causes, and was a founding member of Ghana Together, a non-pro fit organization that built an orphanage in Axim, Ghana and which helps the local community with educational and social needs.

Leif was an avid photogra pher, drummer, boater, music aficionado and radio enthusiast, and an aspiring physicist. He loved to travel, living in Sweden for a year and visiting dozens of other countries. He made lasting friendships all over the world.

Leif is survived by his wife Sue Pederson and stepchildren Anna and Kevin Kaminski of Bainbridge Island, WA; two daughters, Kristin Pederson currently living in South Korea and Kelly Pederson of Woodinville, WA; father, Earl K. Pederson of Batavia, IL; brother Glenn E. and Mrs. Barbara J. Pederson and nephew Eric D. Pederson all of Sussex, WI.

Services will be held Friday, June 18, 2010 at 2:00 pm, at the Seabold United Methodist Church (of which he was a member), 6894 NE Seabold Church Rd, Bainbridge Island, WA 98110 (206-842-3622). Dona tions in Leif's name may be sent to Ghana Together, 808 Addison Place, Mt. Vernon, WA 98273 (

Apr 16, 2010

WHH Academy Opens New Internet Cafe - Sometimes MIRACLES Happen!

Ariana Amarh Trying It Out!

Back in 2009, the Zain Communication Network advertised their "Zain Touching Lives" contest. Aspirants were invited to submit their "dream" with hopes of becoming the lucky winner. Ariana Amarh, WHH Business Manager, had a dream---yes she did! She submitted her “dream” essay on behalf of Western Heritage Home to Zain. And -- miracles of miracles -- she won the contest! And so, in late March, Zain representatives delivered the Touching Life program’s winning package to the WHH.

WHH received 10 computers and monitors, plus software and other peripherals necessary to provide broadband internet access. In addition, the Zain package included a bread baking oven, baking sheets, cake sheets, and necessary gas cylinders, plus flour and other ingredients.

Delivery day was a celebration! In the words of Barbara Davis, WHH Secretary: "We invited the prominent people in Axim, Nananom/Awulaemo (chief and elders from the two Traditional Areas) Students from Senior High Schools in Axim and Community Development Training Institute, Assembly Members from all the electoral areas, Media men/News men, Municipal Chief Executive, Information Service Department and the Board of Directors of W.H.H to grace the function of Zain donating package to the home.”

“Sky power FM Radio from Takoradi and Ankobra FM were present. They interviewed Mr. Isaac Bentil, Mr. James Kainyiah, and Winifred, a staffer from Zain who is in charge of package delivery. They were so happy to see the children in a very nice condition and healthy atmosphere. We also made mention of the internet cafe that we will start to operate very soon and the remedial class which was in progress.”

So, wonder of wonders! The Western Heritage Home Academy now has a modern high-speed internet café---Axim’s first! A bonus is that internet is also now available to the One Laptop Per Child computers used by the WHH children living in the Children's Home.

The Internet Cafe opened to the public on April 1. WHH will use the Zain oven to start a bread-baking business in their large storage building. They plan to sell bread on Sundays. The Café, Bakery, and Secondary Remedial Program provide needed services to the Axim community and revenue from them will be used by WHH Board to help support WHH’s children’s programs.

Ghana Together congratulates Ariana for her success! Maxwell Quarm, WHH computer instructor/technician, is working with Leif Pederson, Ghana Together Board member, to install Internet Café management software, and ensure correct setup of all the computers. Ariana herself, and Mr. Isaac Bentil, Managing Director, are making sure the business side of the program is running smoothly and securely.

Mar 14, 2010

Western Heritage Home Board Hires Managing Director

As their programs expand and more of their mission objectives are being realized, the Western Heritage Home Board has recognized the need for an experienced locally-based leader. Mr. Isaac Bentil fills that need. Mr. Bentil has served on the WHH Board since its inception, In fact, he and James Kainyiah were first to recognize the need in the Axim community for a broad-based Ghanaian-managed non-profit (NGO), and together laid the foundation for what they dreamed would be a Children's Home.

Mr. Bentil will direct all WHH activities, including the Children's Home, Academy, Women's Economic Development, and Internet Cafe, and new programs that are developed as WHH pursues its mission.

Mr. Bentil has long been active in the Axim community. Known simply as "Bentil", he is the owner of Ben-Ben Enterprise, a printing business located in the heart of Axim Town, right across from the Castle. He is a leading layman in the Axim Methodist Church, and also in Methodist activities in the Western Region. He annually organizes the Kundum Festival, which traditionally celebrates Nzema culture through ceremony, dancing, and drumming, and which calls folks back to their family homes in Axim from far and near.

Mr. Bentil's oldest son has joined him in his business, leaving him time for his first love---working for the betterment of children, especially, and the economic, educational, and social development of the Axim community.

Ghana Together folks are very familiar with Bentil, because he was a Global Citizen Journey delegate during our first visit to Axim. As a WHH Board member, he has worked closely with our Ghana Together Board since our inception. We are delighted not only to welcome him to the new job, but also to congratulate the WHH Board on its successful three years of operation and steady success in realizing their mission.

Board members shown left to right in photo above are: Maryanne Ward, President Ghana Together Board and advisory member of the WHH Board; Father Paul Awuah (Axim Catholic Church); Miss Frances Polley (retired math teacher); Mr. James Kainyiah (Nana Kaku Bullu II, Chair and Founder of WHH NGO, owner of JamKay enterprises and Development Chief of Lower Axim Traditional Council), Isaac Bentil, Ariana Amarh (WHH Business Mgr), and Mad. Hajara Yakubu (Dir. Community Development Vocational Institute).

Feb 25, 2010


Leif Pederson, GT Board member, and two plumbers from Breakthrough Plumbing (Axim business) discuss the in's and out's of how to get water into the polytank. At the recommendation of the Engineers Without Borders-Northwest team that worked in Axim late 2009, the plumbers installed the necessary pipes and materials to fill the tank with Axim city water. When the city water fails, due to rationing of water or power outages when the pumps stop running, the Children's Home now has a reserve supply to tide them over (with careful use).

The plumbing materials were supplied by the Koo-ooo-Koo business in Axim. Wilson Kwadam, Ghana Water Company manager in Axim, generously offered expert advice gratis. Patrick Kwofie, WHH staff member responsible for the WHH facility, shows proof that there really is water in the tank! The tank itself and stand were funded by a grant from the Mercer Island, Washington Rotary Foundation. Tom Castor, Mercer Island Rotarian and GT Board member, kept us all on track.

Long-range plans call for a rainwater roof runoff system. Meanwhile, the 21 children, WHH staff, Secondary School remedial students using the facility, and others will have at least minimal drinking/cooking/bath water during the dry season and frequent power outages. It took a long time, but by working together step-by-step, we got it done! Thanks to all.

Feb 24, 2010

SSNIT Donates Foodstuffs to WHH Children's Home

Local members of the SSNIT office in Axim made a surprise visit to the Children's Home on January 24, bringing with them much welcome gifts of rice, oil, flour, and other foodstuffs. The manager of the office presented the gifts to Ariana Amarh, Business Manager of the Western Heritage Home NGO, who thanked him on behalf of the entire staff and children. The SSNIT is a state-sponsored pension system, similar to the Social Security system in the US. Ghana Together thanks them too, and welcomes their support in this unique partnership between Americans and Ghanaians.

Jan 12, 2010

We Host John Abugri, Axim-based Ghanaian Health Officer

Ghana Together (GT) and Engineers Without Borders–Northwest Washington Professionals Chapter (EWB-NW) had the pleasure of hosting Mr. John Abugri, a Disease Control Officer from Axim, Ghana. John arrived in Bellingham, Washington on November 18, 2009. He financed his own travel expenses and we in turn welcomed him into our homes and shared our meals and our ordinary lives with him. W arranged meetings and experiences for him to learn all he could, focusing on the EWB’s ongoing water and sanitation project in Axim and on public health and sanitation practices here in our area. While here, John served as a consultant to the local EWB-NW team, which had recently returned from their fact finding mission to Ghana in September 2009.

John’s first “event” was a joyous social reunion with most of the EWB-NW and Ghana Together team members. John is well-known to all of us from our former journeys to Ghana. In fact, it was John who first requested and has been our partner for our Ghana Together “veronica bucket” project, which has placed 64 hand-washing stations in Axim schools. And, most importantly for his visit to the US, John had served as a vital resource to EWB-NW team while they were in Axim.

Since it was Thanksgiving week here in the US, work was put aside and John was treated to the gifts of the Pacific Northwest—Pike Street Market in Seattle, the Space Needle Restaurant, and a traditional Thanksgiving dinner with Jeanie Birchall’s family. Jerome Chandler took him to St James Cathedral in Seattle, and a visit to the Ballard Locks. Other enthusiastic friends took him to play in the snow on Mt Baker twice—the one big wish besides the EWB work for this son of tropical Africa!

Having been properly introduced to our Northwest culture and environment, on Monday, November 30, the serious work began. Ravyn Whitewolf, EWB-NW Axim Project Manager and civil engineer with Bellingham’s Public Works Dept and John met in her office, followed by a long work session with the entire EWB-NW team.

Together they reviewed their findings from the recent EWB project assessment in Axim, Ghana in September, 2009, in which John had participated. They laid out a plan for the next steps with the project. John agreed to be a communications conduit between the EWB-NW team and its counterparts in Axim. He was supplied with many maps and documents to deliver to the partners on the ground in Ghana.

Since part of John’s job is teaching disease control and sanitation in the Axim schools, and because he was formerly a primary teacher, he felt a visit to a typical American primary school would be helpful. GT Board member Barbara Gilday arranged for presentations in second and fifth grade classes in a Bellingham public school. In the 5th grade class, he was captivated with the thoughtfulness of the questions—particularly the one asked by a boy about why someone has not yet developed a vaccine against malaria. As a Disease Control Specialist in tropical West Africa, John battles the causes and effects of malaria daily, but he was surprised that an American boy was so knowledgeable and concerned about it.

In the second grade class, he played with the children and teased them, including inviting himself to breakfast with one boy, who quickly wrote his telephone number down for John to call his mother. The children loved him and we think maybe he loved them back!

On December 7, John met with the local Whatcom County Public Health Department. Ravyn Whitewolf presented a slideshow highlighting background information about health challenges in Axim, Ghana. This was followed by many questions and answers regarding health issues in both Bellingham and Axim. Later that day, accompanied one of the staff members, John observed field inspections. This was his other big wish besides the EWB work.

We are inspired by John---his determination to make life better for ordinary folks in Axim, his humble nature and eagerness to learn, his gentle ways. We know this visit was one of the highlights of his life and will inspire his work in every way. We have been privileged to have him in our midst.