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.

Dec 12, 2014

Project Summary for Axim All-Girls High School (AAGHS)

We’ve done quite a few projects with our associates of Western Heritage Home and local school leaders to help AAGHS thrive. Thanks, "investors"!

What would be nice...

...a cleared, safe trail through the jungle between the Heritage Hostel (dormitory) and the school so the girls can walk the half mile 

 ...a couple of tables and benches in the Heritage dormitory where girls board

...and especially a toilet---a really nice toilet, for these lovely young the kind the Engineers Without Borders built at the Axim junior high earlier this year.

Another "urine diversification/dry toilet" in Axim would serve two causes:

1)  the 100 or so high school young women will have a toilet that works! The little two-seater flush type they have doesn't really work. It's often clogged up... and always needs a bucket of water on hand since the flush mechanism...(you get the picture)
2)  and, the girls will spread the knowledge of this toilet design---so much improved over other low-impact toilets, thanks to wizardry of Colleen Mitchell and the others at PNW EWB team!
These AAGHS girls come from various parts of Ghana. When they graduate they will be high-school graduates, with a certain status and respect. Their school is putting much emphasis on science. They can put their improved "toilet knowledge" to work in other communities. They aren't going to want to go back to what they came from!

We've done some great projects at AAGHS!

Thanks to Jerome Chandler, our Science Project Manager, we created an entire science resource center, with tables, benches, posters, storage shelves, lot of materials... And Jerome wrote 60 science experiments that fit the Ghana Education Science curriculum "practicums."

Jerome Chandler Science Resource Center at Axim All-Girls High School
Secure Science Materials Storage Area
AAGHS Students doing Science Practicum

Maryanne Ward and Colleen Mitchell with Eric (Jimpetey Djan) Jim, Science Instructor and students taking science materials inventory, Feb 2014
Teacher Eric(blue shirt) showing a teacher how the stethoscope works---thanks to the Skagit County, WA docs...

For math, we provided about 60 non-graphing, scientific, solar-powered calculators (not available at any reasonable cost in Ghana).

Teachers and students opening a shipment of calculators

We sent along an overhead projector for the science transparencies Jerome created, as well as a laptop and computer projector

Opening the overhead projector transported by Jennifer Mueller, EWB, along with school officials

 We helped them take this old building on the campus....

And with a lot of help from the girls themselves and the teachers...and local workers...

Cleaning up the site
Workers Preparing Floor

 ...Renovated it into a Dining/Study/Assembly Hall
AAGHS Students outside newly renovated Dining/Assembly/Study Building. Tables and Benches are on the way

We put a new roof on the Heritage Building (formerly the Children's Home) and ...
Roofers at work. Roofs take a beating in this tropical climate with torrential seasonal rains

...created a high school women's dormitory for those from more than walking distance or other parts of the country!

AAGHS Students who Board at the Heritage, thereby enabling them to attend high school

We have been working with Unleash Kids to equip this AAGHS Information/Computing Center (provided by Ghana Education Service) with Internet-In-A-Box, a learning resource with internet-based resources connecting wireless from the "box" to laptops, much like actual internet service.

IIAB includes Wikipedia, Khan Academy videos, reference e-books, global maps, etc. for environments with little to no internet access. It will be installed at AAGHS in Jan 2015.
AAGHS Computing Lab---what's missing is Internet Access. Service is sporadic, or non-existent and very expensive

Maryanne Ward and Adam Holt (Unleash Kids) setting up Internet-in-a-Box in Maryanne and Rich Ward's home

What is missing? We think a toilet like this one EWB built in Axim in 2014...and by all accounts, working beautifully at a Junior High School...would fit in just perfectly!

Urine Diversification/Dry Toilet Building by Bellingham, WA Engineers Without Borders

We thank so many who have invested in one way or another in this effort, on both sides of the Atlantic. It is amazing to us what has been accomplished!!
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Nov 21, 2014

Ending a Great Year!

For those of you (most of the Americans on our list) who receive our annual update letter by snail mail, you can skip this (we just aren't smart enough to figure out how to slice and dice...)
We can truly say, “Missions Accomplished” this November, 2014!

These strong young women are the future of Axim, and the future of Ghana!  And we are helping them to help themselves.  The collaborative relationship between us (including each of you!) and Ghana Together, and the local leaders in Axim and the youth of Axim, is producing results now that will ripple out to the broader community and beyond! 

These high school girls spent the day clearing the land around their Axim All-Girls Senior High School. They are celebrating because, thanks to your contributions, this year we renovated a decrepit building on their campus into a dining, assembly, and study area.  The local PTA is providing tables and benches and interior clean-up.
These kinds of partnerships between ourselves and our Ghanaian associates are what enable real progress.

It was a good year! Thanks to your contributions and gifts, in addition to the high school building renovation, we:
---renovated a Central Axim Junior High School building, providing two new large classrooms so students can attend all day rather than half days, and administrative space for teachers to meet and gather. 

---created the One Laptop per Child laboratory next to the children’s room in the public library, with fifty OLPCs, electrical installation (works when power is on), and work tables and benches.  It drew thirty to forty children a day during vacation periods, and continues to serve many after school and on Saturdays---and about half are girls! 
---shipped literally hundreds of high quality children’s books, providing stories and reading for local children who have never before had access to books. It takes a team. Friends in the US who acquire books… a friend in Maryland who works with his friend, a commercial shipper…friends in Ghana who go to the port at Tema, pick them up, and transport them to Nzema East area. We threw in some neat dinosaur puzzles and science posters, too! THANKS TO YOU ALL!!

---acquired a motorized tricycle to carry books to schools too far from Axim Center for children to walk to the library
---funded 72 scholarships.  These include young adults learning trades at the Community Development Vocational Institute, elementary school children at the Apewosika School serving Axim’s poorest population, and our Western Heritage Home youth whom we’ve been supporting since the beginning and who are themselves starting to make their marks in the world.  Charlotte and Philomena are top in their class, and they and Peter are now on full scholarships from the Ghana National Petroleum Corporation due to their academic achievements.

We loved connecting local Axim leaders with the Pacific Northwest Chapter of Engineers Without Borders (Bellingham). They amazed the town by building a UDDT low-impact toilet at an Axim JHS. Headmistress Yawson reports it’s working “very, very well.” The students have some ideas for improving the design---EWB engineers…listen up!!! J
Because we collaborate closely with our Ghanaian friends and partners and track carefully the emerging needs and goals, our plans develop as the area develops. We have counted on nearly bi-annual trips to Axim to nourish personal relationships and our understanding of where we can make the best use of our resources and talents.

However, the devastating Ebola outbreak forced cancellation for our visit to Axim in September. Therefore our goals for 2015 are not as developed as we’d like them to be. But, now that the Ebola situation in Ghana is better understood, Maryanne Ward intends to visit Ghana in early 2015 to review projects and nail down plans with local leaders there.
So, in spite of some uncertainty, we do ask for your support in 2015. We know for sure we’d like to:

---Continue to support students with scholarships
---Expand and improve living space in the Western Heritage Home, which is now a dormitory for girls from surrounding regions attending Axim Girls High School.  They now have a place to live. As more girls arrive, we want to provide the additional beds, tables, and benches to give them the best possible learning environment.

---Ship more high quality children’s books (contact us if you have some books or want to discuss).
---Work with “Unleash Kids” to provide the Axim All-Girls High School with Internet-In-A-Box (IIAB). The school has a new computer lab stocked with notebook computers provided by the Ghana Education Service, but it does not have internet access. IIAB will give the girls access to research materials such as Wikipedia (in English, French, Arabic, and Swahili), Khan Academy Math and Science videos, world maps, medical encyclopedia, and other excellent resources.

And this year, sadly, we lost Tom Castor, one of our founding board directors. Tom, a retired businessman, could be a somewhat gruff, no-nonsense kind of guy, but he melted in the presence of our Ghanaian WHH Scholars who, after their initial shyness, approached him fearlessly, and called him “Uncle Tom.” A gentle white man who didn’t mind if they touched his skin (“does his feel the same as mine?”) or tried to figure out his fancy camera.

Tom loved tramping around Axim with his GPS system, mapping water spigots, greeting adults, and being followed by a trail of inquisitive children. And, as our Vice-President for nearly nine years, Tom made sure our organization ran in a businesslike, professional manner. We all miss him so much.
We thank you for your partnership in these projects that change individual lives and community futures.  We again assure you that we use 100% of your donations toward our projects.  We on the board handle all administrative activities, travel, and other costs.

Best wishes to you in the New Year,

Directors:  Maryanne Ward, Jerome Chandler, Rich Ward, Sue Pederson, and Louise Wilkinson


Ghana Together, 808 Addison Place, Mount Vernon, WA 98273
Tax ID: 26-2182965

Oct 30, 2014

Mission Accomplished! AAGHS Building Renovation Complete

Paramount Chief Awulae Attibruskusi III and other Axim leaders championed the idea of an academic high school for girls for at least ten years before we arrived in 2006. Finally, the town of Axim was able to launch the Axim All-Girls High School (AAGHS) in 2009, under the leadership of Headmistress Cecelia Bonku.
On May 21, 2012, AAGHS was officially absorbed into the Ghana Education Service as a fully-accredited high school, a wonderful achievement.
Mrs. Bonku went on to become the Health/Safety Officer for all Axim/Nzema East Schools, and AAGHS proceeded under the leadership of Madame Stella Adjei, Headmistress.
At first, they met in a former Junior High building. Then the Ghanaian government built classrooms and a “cookhouse.”
The former JHS building became administrative office space, teacher workroom, science lab, and home economics room. 

AAGHS Classroom Building. Plans are to add a second story
So, by early 2014, they had classrooms...BUT, something was missing!
The girls were sitting outside on the ground to eat their meals---the school provides three meals/day and the cookhouse is a busy place---too small to accommodate tables for dining.
...No place to eat their meals. No place to gather for “all school” meetings. No place to study between classes. No place to gather with friends to discuss….whatever high school girls in Ghana discuss!! (Probably about the same topics the world over!)
When Maryanne Ward visited Axim in Feb. this year, Western Heritage Home leaders and Headmistress Stella Adjei showed her a dilapidated (VERY dilapidated!!) building on the Axim All-Girls High School (AAGHS) campus.
They had consulted with a District Engineering staff member, who assured them the building was structurally sound and could be renovated for use as a dining/assembly/study hall!!??

We were it possible...???
SO, throwing all caution and skepticism aside (!) Ghana Together and Western Heritage Home designated renovating this old building as a major project for 2014.
The girls got to work, cleaning up the site!

Celebrating their cleanup day with tools in hand! Their enthusiasm spurred on the adults---led by Headmistress Stella Adjei (in blue shirt)
We are happy to announce:
!!Mission accomplished!!
Now it's the PTA's turn! They have committed to clean up and paint the inside and provide tables and benches. We hope to have photos of that soon.

AAGHS Students grouped in front of their newly renovated building
Rear of building
Ghana Together has worked with Western Heritage Home and the AAGHS staff on other projects. We moved the science room into the high school, in 2013 and continue to support it.
This year we provided another dozen or so laminated posters on various scientific subjects, added more scientific calculators to the 50 already given, and other supplies.

We provided a laptop for Madame Stella, an overhead projector for science transparencies, and a computer projector for teacher use.

We are currently working with Unleash Kids to provide Internet-In-A-Box (IIAB), since the school does have electricity (on and off...) and a new computer lab, stocked with notebook computers provided by the Ghana Education Service---but, it does not have internet access.
IIAB will give the girls access to research materials such as Wikipedia (in English, French, Arabic, and Swahili), Khan Academy Math and Science videos, and other resources.
Also, the Heritage Building (aka Children's Home...) now serves as a dormitory for girls attending AAGHS from other towns. There are 32 girls there now, and more freshman students are arriving in the next few weeks. Will there be enough bunk beds? Nice problem!!!
Yes, we are many have helped...we and our Ghanaian friends are grateful.

Aug 12, 2014

Project(s) Update

A little more than half a year has gone by. What about those projects Western Heritage Home and Ghana Together so bravely launched in January this year?

...many ups and downs, BUT two projects---the new Mobile Library Van and the Children’s Computing Lab---were dedicated just last week.

Community Leaders at the Dedication Ceremony held in the Community Center for the Children's Computing Lab and the Mobile Library Van
Thanks to the support of Mr. James Baidoe, the Municipal Chief Executive, and the District Assembly, WHH (under the leadership of James Kainyiah), has been given a room in the centrally located Community Center for both the Children’s Computing Lab and the Leif Pederson Internet Café for adults.
One Laptop Per Child Computing Lab, just for kids. Mostly boys in this photo, but we'll work on getting the girls involved, too.! The Leif Pederson Internet Café (for adults) has also been moved to this location, and can be seen in the background

Peter, who learned OLPCs when he was living at the WHH Children's Home (now a high school student) is the part-time "teacher" during his school break. Here he uses a projector to demonstrate the many educational activities geared to young children

The Mobile Library Van is getting limited use during the school break, but will deliver books to area schools when school resumes on Sept 9. The van will deliver books to area schools, especially to the "P4" students (our 4th grade) when students typically transition from "learning to read" to "reading to learn."
The schools have few to no textbooks or libraries so this is a crucial service to improve literacy.

Mr. Baidoe handing the keys to the Library Van to Librarian Gadiel Eyison, Acting Director of the Axim Public Library


WOW!!! It's absolutely BEAUTIFUL!!!
"Mr. Gad" starts her up!! Luckily he has been riding motorcycles for some time, since the library used an ordinary motorcycle for a couple of years before it died and now has been replaced with this van. He looks happy!!

This effort creates a centrally-located “Learning Center” linking the public library, the children’s library nook/story hour space, the children’s computing lab, and the adult internet café...more reliable electricity/internet signals, serves business community as well, and just more efficient.

One of our scholarship students from the Apowosika Village School speaks her thanks before the crowd on behalf of her fellow students from the Axim Primary Schools
Children can hear a good story! Check out book! Use a computer! Take the book home and show off reading skills to Mom and Dad! Brag about computer skills to their siblings! Who cares if it’s a mile or two walk???  

Students joining in a prayer of thanksgiving to close the dedication ceremony

We extend our heartfelt thanks to those who helped us create the Children's Computing Lab. All of the OLPCS have been donated over the years (if you have one, you know who to contact!!). Thank you,


---to those who donated funds to create the lab (paint, tables, electrical connections, etc.)

---to the original creators of the OLPCs who mostly donated their time and incredible technical expertise and continue to do so

---to those who have donated children's books (some 5,000 now)

---to Ebby who helps us ship books

---to folks in Ghana who deliver the books from the port to Axim

---to Librarian Mercy Ackah whose leadership in Axim really launched this project. Mercy is now directing the Takoradi Library, of which the Axim Library is a branch.

---to the devoted, creative, energetic leaders of Western Heritage Home who have ideas and when helped, get them DONE!!!

NOTE: we thank Evans Arloo, Western Heritage Home Manager, for the photos

Meanwhile, due to the ebola outbreak, our Ghana Together team has postponed our travel Axim. We hoped to enjoy the Kundum Festival, review projects, and help launch the new school year, but we'll save that for next time.

Our friends in Axim are well aware of the threat and are taking what steps they can, given limited resources. The Ghana Ministry of Health has declared a “Red Alert” and is disseminating information.
Axim leaders are setting up information sessions at this same Community Center. They are finding every hand washing station they can and making sure they are operable. Pastors and other leaders are informing the people about the disease and specific hygienic practices.

We feel helpless here in the US, but we are with them in spirit and in our prayers.

For more info see Click on "News" to see earlier news updates.
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Jun 23, 2014

Update on WHH Scholars

We thought our readers would like an update on those original Western Heritage Home Scholars. As “orphaned or vulnerable children” (a Ghanaian government classification) they spent their early years in the WHH Children’s Home in Axim. In fact, their care was WHH’s first substantial community project and our first collaboration with WHH.
You may recall that in mid-2011 the WHH Board moved the children into kinship/foster homes, both out of their own concern about the long-term effects of institutionalizing children, and also because of some governmental policy changes.
Maryanne visited with most of these children in February this year. She was told by Manye Academy staff that due to the extra tutoring and care in early years at the Children’s Home, they have done well in their studies, considering they had few to no academic skills when they started at Manye at various ages.
So here’s an update.
Ben (P5) and Gladys (P2) attend in Brawie/Akyminim Primary School, in north Axim, near the Community Development Vocational Institute. They live with their Grandma. It’s a tough go, but the school headmaster says as long as we provide uniforms and fees which cover exercise books, pens, daily lunch, etc. they’re ok. We’re grateful to generous neighbors who help out Grandma as best they can.
Philomena (Form 1 SHS) and Charlotte (Form 1 SHS) are on Tullow Oil Company scholarships at Nsein Senior High School. They are both outstanding students, and the oil company pays all of their expenses, so they require no support from us as this time. Way to go girls!!! Way to go Tullow!!
Peter has just graduated JHS, took his BECE exams, and is awaiting results. He will attend High School in the Nzema East area, starting September, either with our help or, because his academic work is tops, he is hoping for a scholarship.  He likes math, science, business, and computers, he says. Peter has moved from Mr. Bentil’s home (how can we thank you for your years of generosity to this boy??) and is now living in the Heritage Volunteer Quarters. He is helping Evans Arloo, the Manager, esp. with the One Laptop Per Child Computers (he’s an early expert!). Peter not only lost his parents as a young boy, but recently both his biological sister (sickle cell) and his brother (typhoid).
Frederic is in P6 at Manye Academy and living in a kinship/foster home in Axim.
Francis (JHS Form1) and Lamin (JHS Form 2) are living in kinship homes and attend Manye Academy. Lamin still loves soccer and has become an outstanding athlete.
Olivia, George, Isaac, and Eric are in JHS Form 1 at Manye.
Isaac dropped out for a couple of years to join his older brother in traditional medicine work, but he has been counselled by WHH board member Nana Adjow Sika (Queen Mother) to finish high school before he makes career decisions and he has decided to accept her wise counsel.
Eric also dropped out and joined a fishing crew in Ivory Coast, but he decided he wanted to be back in Axim, and learn driving or electrician work. But, to do that, he needs to finish JHS first, so he has decided to resume his studies at Manye. (Thank you, Manye staff, for being so flexible---you are true educators!)
George, Olivia, Ernestina, Isaac, and Eric are boarding at Manye Hostel. As they got older, between helping their families with fetching of water, cooking, etc., and lack of electricity so no lights, they had too little time for homework during daylight hours. In the hostel, they have regular food, water, and a generator. It is crucial, in Ghana, for students to finish junior high. Eligibility for senior high school is based on junior high test results. Without JHS training, one simply doesn’t have the skills to work in Ghana’s economy.
Gifty is in SHS in Beyim.
Joanna is with her biological grandmother/auntie in the Takoradi area.
Mary is with family in Accra.
Wahab and Adiza are in Tarkwa in kinship homes.
Emmanuela is at the Blind/Deaf School in Cape Coast. She is doing well. Maryanne didn’t visit her because she has adjusted well, per the teachers, and a visit would perhaps disturb that. We pay for some of her expenses—all of her menstrual supplies, clothing, toiletries, etc.
Godwin has been taken into James Kainyiah’s family in Takoradi and is growing up with the Kainyiah children. He still loves his OLPC and told Maryanne he is tops in his class in ICT (computer studies).
We save Dorothy Armoo for last! She has graduated senior high school and is teaching at a small private primary school just south of Axim. She loves teaching---English and ICT. She is earning her own living. We are so proud! WAY TO GO DOROTHY!!!
Dorothy, second from left, with fellow teachers

One of Dorothy's classes in their "bamboo school"

These WHH Scholars are still a primary responsibility for WHH and for Ghana Together. We jointly continue to support them financially, on an individual, as-needed basis. Our goal is to make sure that one way or another, all who have the academic ability will finish senior high school, a high achievement in Ghana. We’d like to do more for those who are academically capable
They see each other as "extended family" and do look after each other. We are proud of them. Dorothy, the "senior sister" called at 2:00 am on Mother's Day to wish all the "Mums" on Ghana Together's Board a Happy Mother's Day from all the scholars.
We are especially grateful to local leaders, especially James Kainyiah, Isaac Bentil, Queen Mother Nana Adjow Sika, and the various teachers and administrators at Manye Academy, especially Felicia Atta, former assistant headmistress and current teacher.
And you have helped support these children over the years. They and we thank you.
The WHH motto is “Making Leaders of the Least” and so they are…
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Jun 4, 2014

We say goodbye to Tom

This past Saturday we of Ghana Together gathered with family and friends at the East Shore Unitarian Church in Bellevue, Washington State, to say goodbye to Tom Castor.
Both Tom and his beloved wife Louise were among Ghana Together’s founding members. He was an active board member until the day of his death on May 16, 2014.
Tom put his heart and soul into the all the work we did with the people, and especially the children, of Axim, Ghana.

In our early years, we supported a children’s home. He and Louise traveled with us to dedicate the building and launch that effort.

Tom and his wife, Louise Wilkinson, in Ghana
He delighted in interacting with the children. They loved to touch Tom’s skin, gently pulling the hair on his arms and beard, completely unafraid of this gentle white man!

 He was with them when the lights went out and when it was time to get up with the sun to get ready for school!

Tom showing off his fancy camera to his enraptured audience!
He helped set up a science room at Manye Primary School.

Tom receiving a traditional stole from Felicia Atta, Assistant Headmistress, in appreciation for his contributions to the Manye Academy Science Room
He raised funds to build a water tower.
He used his technical background to help rebuild about 50 One Laptop Per Child computers and took delight in teaching the children how to use them.

This One Laptop Per Child stuff is REALLY fun. girls!!
 Tom helped walk the entire town of Axim, recording longitude and latitude coordinates for every water spigot.
He faithfully served behind the scenes as our Vice President and Secretary, approving bank wires, writing minutes, and giving his best candid counsel.

We are grateful to have known and worked with this skilled, kindly, generous friend.
For more information, see
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