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 14, 2021

Update on Axim Public Library Project

 As we reported in our March 2021 News Update (http://ghanatogether.blogspot.com) , we are supporting Axim and the Ghana National Library Authority’s efforts to at last create a purpose-built library in Axim. 

Yes, we were a little skeptical back in 2019, when the leadership of Western Heritage Home, our partner in Ghana, made the formal request for help. After all, our philosophy is basically to hear them out on their ideas for potential projects, ask tons of questions, and if it seems to make sense, either because of lack of financial resources or expertise, offer help, but plan carefully!

Well, part of that process was James Kainyiah, Chairman of Western Heritage Home, and Ghana Together President Maryanne Ward having a 3-hour meeting in Accra in late 2018 with Hayford Siaw, Head of the Ghana National Library Authority (a department of their Ghana Education Service), and Mercy Ackah, Western Region Libraries Deputy Director. We were convinced by that meeting that public libraries, along with tuition-free public education through senior high school, were tops on Ghana’s agenda to support literacy country-wide, and that the Axim Library would get support going forward.

Maryanne had traveled to Ghana 14 times, and had experienced first-hand the low literacy among adult Ghanaians, especially women,  On that 2018 trip, she visited 17 schools receiving books from the Axim Public Library’s mobile library service in lieu of libraries in their schools---a service made possible by Ghana Together’s many generous investors! She met with teachers, heard the children read aloud in unison (each from their own separate book) to show off their skills (!), and saw how the schools valued the service.

BUT, all this was being managed from a very confined space on the top floor of a community building built by the Peace Corps in its earliest years---and with a lousy staircase to boot---try carrying large boxes of books up and down…you get the picture!  To develop true public library services, a purpose-built facility was badly needed.

So, Chairman James, ever-resourceful, developed an architectural plan and started working with community leaders. The Methodist Church---long a strong source of educational efforts in the community---donated land right in the downtown area, within easy walking distance of five schools and much of the residential area. The Upper Axim Chief poured a libation to bless the project, and honor the ancestors who had used that land for centuries. The “CodeLibrary” group of supportive elders was founded to foster community support.

We of Ghana Together started to work on funding for this new project (in addition to continuing the scholarships/school-cost projects already in the works). If not for Covid, we’d have visited at least once in late 2020 to review progress. Thanks to the internet, we communicate on almost a daily basis with leadership in Axim on the project. And as of June 2021, we are now about two-thirds done with the project, slowed but continuing in spite of Covid-19.

And then, on June 3, 2021, out of the blue (!), came the announcement that the Ghana Library Authority, the institution mandated by law to establish, equip, maintain and manage public libraries in Ghana, has emerged as the winner of the "International Library of the Year" by the London Book Fair (LBF) International Excellence Awards 2021! WOW!!! This award is a big deal, and served to verify our modest efforts to help Ghana in its drive to develop public libraries in every part of the country.

So, thanks for reading this far! You can see how this is coming to fruition. The local community, thanks to the efforts of the CodeLibrary group and local leaders, will take on the responsibility to furnish the new library upon completion of the building. The Axim Municipal Assembly (like our city councils), will own the building going forward, manage it, provide electrical services, etc. The Ghana Library Authority, under the national Department of Education, will continue to fund programs, staff, and resources as they do in all public libraries. Local folks, led by the CodeLibrary elders, will voluntarily move the books, shelving, etc. from the old library to the new one, clean up the site, help to get everything in working order, and provide a supportive community group going forward.

We of Ghana Together, for our part, have committed to finishing the building, hopefully by the end of 2021. If you can help, we’d appreciate it a lot! Anything in excess of what is needed for the library will be put to use on scholarships or other educational efforts. 

We estimate we need about $25,000 US to completely finish it.

GHANA TOGETHER
808 ADDISON PLACE
MOUNT VERNON, WA 98273




The new Library-in-progress, as of about two weeks ago, with WHH Scholars Gladys and Ben plus WHH leader Anastasia who traveled from Takoradi to inspect the new Library. The bottom floor will be a  "community space", where children's programs, women's groups. local civic meeting, etc. can meet. For security they will put the library proper on the 2nd floor, including books, computers, etc. to prevent theft. On the right you can see a ramp being built to help folks who have trouble with stairs get up to the 2nd floor and to facilitate a wheeled cart to get boxes of books to and from the mobile library. The electrical hookup is complete, with fans and lights installed and working. Step-by-step! The work has continued despite Covid but with fewer workers then normal. 

Ghana Together is so appreciative of the care and oversight by local leaders and citizens. We are grateful for the strong trust relationship we've built over about 15 years of working together! And we're grateful for YOU, our "investors", as we like to say---investing in literacy, education especially of girls, building community in this historical city that has endured so much over the centuries! Thank You!!!






Mar 24, 2021

GHANA TOGETHER UPDATE

 GHANA TOGETHER UPDATE

Thanks to the ever-faithful Evans Arloo, Western Heritage Home’s on-the-ground guy in Axim, we have good current info on what’s happening with our students and the library project.

In general, yes, Covid-19 is affecting everything they do although, as we reported in our annual end-of-the-year update letter, they are coping. Some think their ongoing experience with HIV-AIDS, ebola, malaria, and tropical diseases in general has helped them adapt preventively. There have been reports that their experience has been less severe than northern countries, such as Europe, Canada, US, etc., perhaps in part because their climate allows people to spend most of their time outdoors rather than in crowded indoor spaces. We are sure science research on the variations world-wide of the coronavirus experience will continue for a long time!

Ghana was the first nation to receive the World Health Organization’s COVAX vaccines---some 600,000 doses. They are reporting more are on the way, and their goal is to have everyone vaccinated who wants to be by end of October, 2021.

But meanwhile, Western Heritage Home persists and we are grateful.

As of Arloo’s report from March 9, 2021, our university-level WHH scholars are attending classes, divided between online and in-person sessions, thanks to Covid-19. 

We were able to provide good-quality android-type phones for each of them. Some of their work at the university can be done in computer labs, and sometimes they have wifi access with their laptops in their living quarters. But they don’t always have wifi access, or it’s intermittent because of “dumsor”, as they call it---electricity going on and off pretty much randomly which screws up the servers, etc. So, with good-quality phones, they can do their assignments pretty much no matter what! We have to admire their persistence!

--Emmanuella is in her 2nd year in Special Education at Winneba University. Gifty is in her 2nd year of her BA in Social Studies Education, also at Winneba, preparing for a teaching career.

--Ernestina and Peter are in their 2nd year in Computer Technology. George and Larmin are in 2nd year of Welding and Fabrication Engineering. All four at Takoradi University.

--Fredrick has finished his electrical engineering training at CDVTI and doing an apprenticeship at a hotel in Ankobra. He is waiting for his exam results to actually graduate. Godwin is learning plumbing at CDVTI---such a needed skill in Ghana!

--Ben is in JHS 2 at Manye Academy and Gladys is in JHS 1.

--Our graduate nurses---Dorothy, Charlotte, and Philomena---are making the transition to self-sufficiency (we are PROUD!). Dorothy is working for the Ghana Health Service as a “permanent nurse.” Charlotte and Philo are working for an American “NGO” (non-profit), together with the Ghana Health Service, on a program to prevent the spread of HIV/AIDS.

--And, finally (!), our twenty-two scholarship students at Apewosika Village School and eight at rural Maako Future Leaders Primary are all attending in-person. Whew!

And, we are so happy to report that work on the NEW LIBRARY is going well!

 Talk about persistence!!! Arloo reports that so far so good. The work in progress at the library project is ongoing.  The project has reached a stage for which the following has been done after the roofing was completed:

--Electrical and Internet networking conduit PVC wall pipes laying complete.

--Inside and outside plastering completed.

The remaining work includes:

--New water service to be constructed by the Ghana Water Company Limited which has been paid for and for the completion by the company;

--Electrical cable laying and ECG power;

--Internet Data cable laying for internet access and E library;

--Ceiling work;

--Floor and Washrooms Tiling;

--Basement block, staircase for disabled persons, wall block work and plastering;

--Library compound work;

--Finally painting and stuffing of furniture, computers and books (I think his use of the word “stuffing” is a little different from ours---probably means “setting up” or something similar! J )


Photos of new Axim Public Library building, as of March 9, 2021

Oh, we give so much thanks to so many, starting with our Ghanaian associates who never seem to lose heart no matter what! And the hearts of our American friends are in the right place, too. Thank you to all who have been supportive in one way or another---from the energy of the WHH Scholars to persist in their studies, the dedication of James Kainyiah and Evans Arloo in their leadership/management roles, the support of the 40 or so "elders" in Axim who belong to the informal "CodeLibrary" whatsapp group and do their best to support efforts, to the Methodist Church which donated land and continues to be supportive, and to so many American friends who have stayed faithful, and to the Ghana Cedi/US dollar exchange rate which has been in our favor! Thank you for large and small things!


Take care of yourselves and each other, all of you!


 Website: http://ghanatogether.org
Email: info@ghanatogether.org
808 Addison Place, Mount Vernon, WA 98273