Ghana 2006 and Continuing…
Update: We’re back, but our interest is still there. In September 2007, seven GCJ North Americans returned to Axim, where we enjoyed participating in the Kundum Festival. We dedicated of our orphanage/community learning center, and enjoyed a special ceremony to dedicate the science supplies we brought to Manye Academy. Upon return, we formed the vibrant and ongoing non-profit, Ghana Together to provide ongoing support.
Check out our Ghana blog to see what we’ve been doing lately. For example, in January of 2016, Western Heritage Home was transformed to a hostel for the first 24 boarding students—12 boys and 12 girls—from the newly-organized Manye Academy Government Senior High School. Check out our wishlist for ways you may be able to help. And check out our Photobucket site for images from the journey.
- When: October 22 to November 9, 2006
- Where: Axim, Ghana
- Who: 15 American delegates (including workshop facilitator and project co-directors) and 13 Ghanaian delegates with a diverse mix of professional and technical skills and interests
- What: Building an orphanage and community center in Axim, Ghana. Shared technical skills and professional expertise. Participated in workshops promoting cross-cultural understanding, compassionate listening, conflict resolution, leadership skills and HIV/AIDs understanding. Engaged in cultural activities.
We spent a couple of days in Accra at Legon University, getting acclimated, visiting the Kwame Nkrumah Memorial and other tourist sites. An official of the USAID office in Accra came to our hotel and briefed us on the country.
We traveled by bus to Axim, stopping to see the slave castle in Cape Coast. We stopped briefly in Takoradi to pick up some of our Ghanaian delegates, and to visit James Kainyiah’s factory, JamKay Ltd. We met Mr. Amoah, the Western Region Executive, and then we headed to Axim. What a joyful celebration to meet all our Ghanaian delegates in the hotel, after corresponding via email and phone for many months!
The next two weeks were spent in Axim, staying altogether at the Axim Beach Hotel. We teamed with our Ghanaian counterparts in mini-projects in education, HIV-AIDs awareness, women’s management and financial training, water supply analysis, conflict resolution training, and health and sanitation.
And we worked together on our “legacy project”, building a facility that is a combination orphanage and community learning center.
While in Axim, we engaged in circle times, and sponsored the first ever Town Hall in Axim.
Finally, tearfully, we left Axim, and traveled to nearby Kakum National Park where we enjoyed the Canopy Walk. Then on to Kumasi, a historically rich cultural center. We visited Aburi, and finally ended in Accra for the long trip home.
The Journey itself cost the 15 North American delegates $38,418, excluding travel, medical inoculations necessary for travel in West Africa, and personal purchases. Of the fees, $600 of the $2950 program fees per delegate went to support the legacy project. Two leaders’ costs were covered by the other delegates. North Americans paid all the Ghanaian delegates’ expenses, estimated at about 40% of the total cost. Fees covered all meals, lodging, tourist entrance fees, gratuities, and transportation in country. We gave some donations to local charitable causes, including Muslim village orphans program, Anansi program, Peace Center in Aburi.
We wired the entire amount to the Ghana Commercial Bank before we left the US. We had a personal friend in a high-level management position in the bank, with whom we coordinated our financial decisions. Thus, we avoided carrying large amounts of cash.
Our leaders negotiated for all hotel and food rates. One of our North American Co-directors served as treasurer and purchaser. The other served as delegation logistic coordinator, helping to arrange daily transportation via taxis and bus, and providing a daily itinerary update.
Our Ghanaian Host (James Kainyiah of WHH) coordinated logistics between our delegation and Ghanaians on a day-t0-day basis. Given the communication and transportation challenges in the area, this was no small feat. We used local taxis plus a small bus we rented from the Catholic Church in a nearby town.
We purchased two cellphones. We set up a blog, which we were able to update fairly consistently, to update our families. The phones and blog were crucial because it enabled us to keep our loved ones back home informed about our well-being and activities.
We had a medical doctor on our team. He advised us on which inoculations were necessary, and also on malaria prophylactics, and general health tips in the tropics. We had a conference call prior to leaving which he coordinated. While in Ghana, we were careful to use waterless handsoap. We purchased bottled water from a wholesaler in Axim (pre-arranged). We found people needed on average about 3-4 liters per day. We had sunscreen, hats, dressed in light cotton clothing, and got along OK. We did have a respiratory illness that circulated through the group.
We recommend travelers to Ghana carry headlamps. Power often fails.
We felt quite safe in Axim, a relatively peaceful town. We were welcomed, and protected by the local leadership. We were careful to not go around town alone. Our Ghanaian friends were with us, and we enjoyed their care. We recommend using hotel safes, and being very careful with high-value documents.