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 8, 2014

Dedication of the New Urine Diversion DehydrationToilet (UDDT)

Another wonderful day in Axim!

You may recall the news article we sent out a few months back about Jennifer and Paul of the Pacific Northwest Chapter of Engineers Without Borders traveling to Axim to launch the construction of a new low-impact toilet at one of Axim’s Junior High Schools.

EWB partnered with the local Axim-based NGO Western Heritage Home on the project. Ghana Together facilitated communication, shared knowledge of the town, and helped establish the relationship with Western Heritage Home, the local NGO.
Mr. Emmanuel Appiah, the local contractor, his foreman Alex, and his workmen have been working steadily on the project for about 5-6 months.
Now, since Colleen Mitchell of EWB and Maryanne Ward of Ghana Together were both in Axim, it was time to celebrate even though the toilet is not yet quite ready for use!

What a transformation!
You may remember the toilet currently used by about 250 students.

And this is the new toilet, swathed in ribbon, ready to be dedicated.

The PTA outdid itself by working with the School District to paint the classroom buildings and also the individual stones white to make the paths and welcome the guests.

The guests assembled. The school choir sang.

The school’s best dancers showed off their Ghanaian cultural heritage.

Colleen spoke about the toilet and the concepts behind the design, aiming her comments especially at the parents. Speakers included Mrs.Yawson, the Headmistress; James Kainyiah, Chair of Western Heritage Home; Fr. Paul Awuah of the nearby Catholic church; a student leader, and others.

Colleen Mitchell, of the EWB Pacific Northwest Chapter, Bellingham, Washington

The students gave a wonderful, real-life demonstration of “how to use the toilet,” which is markedly (!) different from their experience with their current toilet. They had received a lot of information and training, made posters, had class discussions, and now the time had come to show off their knowledge.

They carried two desks into the center of the school yard, and while a teacher asked the “troupe” questions, one of the boys (the “sitter”) leaped up on the desks (simulating one of the toilets) and acted out the answers--- how to squat (we’ll spare the details!) and actually use this new toilet! It was both informational and hilarious. The crowd loved it and he pulled it off perfectly.

Then to cut the ribbon...

Inspect the facility inside and out...

Clearly, Fr Paul Awuah approves!

Receive a new dress as a thank-you gift...

And dance!

We didn’t catch a good photo, but at the end the students danced joyously for at least a half hour before Mrs. Yawson -- the energetic, talented Headmistress -- called it a day!
So far as we know, this is the first UDDT toilet built in Ghana. It is an experiment and the EWB team will be talking monthly with Mrs. Yawson and also Mr. Appiah during the first year of operation.

Colleen spent two weeks working daily with the contractors, fixing some design details on the spot. Mr. Appiah will be getting a new set of the most up-to-date engineering drawings with all changes incorporated. Already we have had inquiries from District Engineers and others about using the concept elsewhere.

Madame Stella Adjei, Headmistress of the Axim Girls High School invited Colleen to speak to her students on engineering as a profession.

Ghana Together has been involved in this project from inception, and we are very proud that we were able to “midwife” it.
We’ve asked Colleen to write a semi-technical article which we will post on these pages, especially for others in Ghana who are interested in this UDDT design.

It was such  joy to experience the excitement and gratitude of the students, teachers, local leaders, and especially the parents.
Now there is a lot of joking about the day (maybe next week?) when the toilet actually opens for business! Who will get to do the first "pee?"
We ourselves vote for Mrs. Yawson who richly deserves the honor for her dedication to the project, working with her students on the science underlying the design, and her obvious enthusiasm for her job! (click on "News" and scroll down for the prior article)
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Feb 4, 2014

Dedicating the Renovated JHS Building

Our last news update featured the Junior High School classroom building Western Heritage Home renovated with help from Ghana Together and the school's PTA.

With Ghana Together’s Maryanne Ward actually in Axim, and the building finished and ready for students, it was time for a dedication!
We all gathered  to celebrate in front of the be-ribboned building.

The PTA members were seated on the left. The dignitaries at the head table included James Kainyiah, Chair of Western Heritage Home; Mrs. Abby, the Headmistress of the school; Mr. Baidoo, the Municipal Chief Executive;, Queen Mother of Upper Axim; The Rev. George Abraham, pastor of the St. James Methodist Church; Maryanne Ward of Ghana Together, and others. The students gathered on the right.  All were seated and shaded by canopies.
The students sang.
James spoke about the project, the crucial importance of education, and the role Western Heritage Home is playing in the Axim community.

Maryanne spoke briefly, somewhat at a disadvantage because the electricity failed at the very moment she reached for the microphone. (This is Ghana where the “lights” are on a lot more than they used to be, but are still erratic.) That plus the American accent...

Maryanne in one of her dresses received as a gift from local folks.
The guests walked over to the building where Rev. Abrahas held a scissors. James put his hand on Rev Abraham’s hand, Maryanne’s came next, and then came the hand of Nana Adjow Sika II and together we cut the ribbon!

The entire crowd filed in to admire the completed classrooms. They really do look just splendid! By next morning, the students were moved in and having classes.

Mrs. Abby will move her office to the renovated building, leaving her current office/storage area as a much-needed staff room. They have been sitting under trees to meet, eat their lunch, etc.

The two classrooms house the entire JHS Form 2 class---82 students---who up to now were meeting halfdays only in split shift. Now they will put in a full school days! Shown here are most of the students who took a break from their studies a couple of days after the dedication
A great day!!