Recently at a conference a woman casually asked me if I believed my work was really making any difference in Ghana. I thought about it and replied “my work has produced ten times the results I thought it would produce in the last 7 years”. I truly believed that but in the last two weeks I have come to believe that statement is wrong. It is more like 20 times what I thought it would produce.
When I first saw Akramaman in January of 2006 it was not much more than a few mud and cement huts and a lot of dirt. There were a many children, most of them were scared to death to look at me. There was no electricity, one small well, one toilet, which was padlocked and no schools within 5 miles of dirt road. The closest medical facility was over 15 miles away—which for people with no transportation except by foot might as well be 100 miles. Very few children attended school and parents did not feel there was a need for education.
Last Friday, Drew and I attended the 2013 St. Paul’s, Akramaman Graduation. It was a grand celebration. Twenty-three children graduated from Kindergarten and will be attending 1st grade in September. From the moment I stepped out of the pick up truck, on loan from the Anglican Diocese of Accra, I was surrounded by children. I could hardly walk. I haven’t been to the school in almost a year but they all shouted “Naa Aku” and came running. Many of the littlest ones had never met me before but they all came to greet me.
Akramaman is not the same sleepy little village I visited seven years ago. Now they have a preschool, Kindergarten, Primary School and Secondary School. The village is electrified, for those that can afford it, and there is even a restaurant. More and more homes are going up. They have a clinic and it is rumored that a market will be coming soon. It has been a lot of work. GMH has provided the preschool, Kindergarten, primary school, clinic and soon a nurse’s residence. We have held workshops for mothers on nutrition and health care. Every summer we provide a reading camp. There have been meetings with the Chief and the Elders concerning their responsibility to care for the schools. And, yes, finally it is all coming together.
Our new Head Mistress, Anastasia Austin, is amazing. At the graduation, the Regional Manager of Anglican Schools, called St. Paul’s a model school. Pride beamed from parents. The PTA was applauded for their support. We learned that the primary school is almost overflowing and someone has donated a computer to the school.
I, personally, wept as my little sponsored child, Prince Abu, came forward in his purple cap and gown to receive his certificate. Then the tears really flowed when they called Hawa’s name. She is a downs-syndrome child. The Head Mistress, Anastasia Austin, has treated Hawa with dignity and respect. Hawa’s mom could hold her head high as Hawa dance across the stage. This alone lets me know that we have made a big difference within a village that would have never let a child like Hawa attend school. I can proudly say to the world, “yes, my work has made a difference in Ghana and someday these children will be the leaders of Africa.”