On the other side of the Volta
By Patte Brown, Plan USA Marketing Manager
This past January, I spent two weeks in Ghana with a film crew gathering materials for future documentaries. I had been anticipating this trip for some time, especially as one of the communities I would be visiting was brand new to Plan. So new, in fact, that our field staff was just beginning to work with community leaders and families to figure out where to begin.
It’s all for the children
Ghana is beautiful, and the communities are incredible. The community we visited in the Volta region is brand new to Plan, so no infrastructure is in place. No health facilities, no feeding programs, no clean water and no latrines! In fact, Plan currently has only two staff members working (with support from the Country Office and other nearby Field Offices) in this region.
Upon arriving at our destination, we first met with the chief and elders to hear from them about their priorities. They identified many of the challenges their community faces, such as the lack of safe water, but their number one concern is education.
One look at their current school was enough to understand their concern.
The first grade is simply a dirt floor, with
a thatched roof. The kids sit on the floor
and scratch their lessons in the dirt.
The second grade classroom is little better: some students sit on stones or cement blocks, but many still sit on the floor and scratch their lessons on the stone with chalk.
Students attending third grade and higher
are slightly better off — they at least have
benches and tables which they share.
All of the grades suffer from too few learning and developmental resources like textbooks, paper, pencils . . . and teachers: seven teachers are responsible for the education of 225 children.
Seeing a bright future
Every community with which Plan works is different. And every community follows a different course with Plan. But I knew, after visiting the community of Bawjiase (one that had been with Plan for over 13 years) a few days later, that effective programs are possible with the participation and input of the community itself.
In Bawjiase, the school room had wooden desks and chairs, teachers who were committed to teaching the children, a library, community latrines, and a water pump for fresh water. Bawjiase is also the location of a model health center for pre- and post natal care.
While the first community we visited didn’t even have safe water to drink or desks in their school for their children, they did have enthusiasm, trust and an awareness of their situation to know they could improve their lives, especially for their children.
In the second, and final, part of our Marketing Manager’s trip to Ghana, Patte meets Mabel, a nine-year-old, and learns that even a glass of water should not be taken for granted.
Learn more about Patte's new appreciation of water treatment facilities (and see what a mudfish looks like!).
Support Plan's work to improve the lives of children and their families: Sponsor a child today!
Learn more about Plan's work in Ghana.