Greetings from Accra, Ghana! The Live It! project that will be taking place here this summer is the renovation of a school called Sakyikrom United Primary School (SUPS). SUPS is located in the Sakyikrom-Adoagyiri district, Eastern Region, Ghana. The school has 240 pupils from grade 1 to 6, and employs 10 staff. In addition to the communities of Sakyikrom and Adoagyiri, the school also serves the neighbouring villages of Amoakrom, Alafia, Akraman, Zabon and Zongo. Since the school was built in 1944, it has not undergone any repairs and is in bad shape.
For the last couple years, SUPS has been under constant threat of closure. Rain pours through holes in the tattered roof into the classrooms, making it uncomfortable for pupils to learn and teachers to instruct in the school building. During the last rainy season, a tropical storm caused a tree to fall onto the school and through its roof. The already decaying roof began to let in even more water. The desire of teachers to ensure students the opportunity of education and the desire of the students to learn is so strong that they continue to use the school building.
This project, which the team has dubbed SUPS 1-4-7 (One School for Seven Communities), aims to reinforce the structure and repair the roof, so the pupils and teachers may be safe and SUPS may continue to run. Since we have received the Live It! Fund and are able to carry out the renovation of SUPS, the local government has agreed to keep the school open.
I left MSP on July 5th, and arrived in Ghana late on July 6th. I was received at Kotoka International Airport by some friendly faces. Among these were members of the SUPS 1-4-7 team; David, Kwame, Mariama and Daniel. David and Kwame are both professional contractors and will be lending valuable knowledge to the building process. They also both happen to be my uncles. Mariama and Daniel are my friends from high school (RCNUWC) who have come to help with the first two weeks of the project. Mariama (Sierra Leone) will be representing LEAF (Living Environment and Future). LEAF is an RCNUWC environmental organization. Daniel (Nigeria) is the representative of DROP (Do Remember Other People, can you tell we love our acronyms?), an RCNUWC non-profit with the mission of school-building-schools. Some other members of the SUPS 1-4-7 team are Rhoda (RCNUWC), Pharez (RCNUWC and Luther College), Sulemana and Abdulai, who joined us the following day. They are all from Ghana. I have yet to the capture them on camera, but will include them in the next post. Pharez was not able to join us in Ghana this summer, but has played a vital role in the planning of the project since last year.
From the left: Kwame, David, Mariama and Daniel.
Monday, July 7th, we had a meeting with the chief of Sakyikrom and his entourage, members of the official local government, the headmaster of SUPS and some teachers to formally begin the project. Sakyikrom is a very traditional community, so it is important for us to respect and observe traditional order as we carry out the project. We began the meeting with the elder of our household, my grandmother, welcoming the delegation from Sakyikrom with a bottle of Schnapps. Then the visitors made their way around the room, greeting each of us. After a prayer by a priest from Sakyikrom, my grandmother informed the visitors that the young people had a desire to improve the condition of SUPS.
My grandmother giving the traditional welcome to the delegation from Sakyikrom.
From the left: The Chief of Sakyikrom and the priest who accompanied him.
After the introduction, my grandmother opened the floor to the team. We each introduced ourselves, informed them about Live It!, DROP and LEAF. We thanked them for welcoming us into their community. We discussed the timeline for the completion of the project and the potential for a longer relationship with the Sakyikrom community. Kwame and David then addressed the technical aspect of things, explained the repair process in detail. They closed by adding that we would need the community’s help to make this happen.
From the left: Daniel, me and Mariama.
David (in the denim shirt) explaining the repair process.
The chief’s right hand man then stood up to share the chief’s response. He informed us that the chief had heard us, and that everyone from the Sakyikrom delegation had also heard us. He thanked us for thinking of their community and informed us that we were welcome to work on the school. He added that the chief would rally up community members to participate in the process. The Sakyikrom priest closed the meeting with a prayer. Then everyone moved around the room, shaking hands with each other to seal the agreement. We let them know we would be coming to Sakyikrom the following day. Then as the elder of the household, my grandmother wished them a safe journey home. The ball is officially rolling and it is exciting!
In the next post, I will share what we found on our first visit to SUPS. Stay tuned :)
- Dubie, ’16