Dagara music…drums, bells and “rattles”…

Before the break I made a personal promise to my teachers that I would find a music teacher!  I really stuck my neck out because I really had NO idea how I was going to make it happen!  I knew our children needed to learn the cultural music here and I am aware that a few of our students are especially drawn to music and instruments.  But we have few funds and even fewer resources (contacts for teachers).

Then last week, after church a musician from the choir followed me to my car.  Gerome asked me if I was interested in bringing music to our students.  Really?  Oh yes!  Really!  Gerome plays at the Dagara Music Center – a world famous group who tour throughout the U.S., Europe and Africa.

Gerome teaching how to play the rattle

Gerome teaching how to play the rattle

He just returned from the U.S. (John F. Kennedy Music Center in N.Y.) and he is bringing his talents to Joy2theWorld International Christian Academy!

The children are learning how to play drums (tones, rhythms, beat) and they are playing a joyful noise!  All the children are able to play some instrument (either the drums, rattles or bells).

I still believe that God listens to my promises (and prayers!) and helps us every day!  Some ask how we can continue to build on so little…it is because of generous sponsors and donors who keep us alive and growing.

Maybe some day, one of our own will be playing at the Kennedy Music Center too!

Abigail is smiling!  So happy to learn the rattle

Abigail is smiling! So happy to learn the rattle

KG2 drums

KG2 drums

Completing a year of the Sanitation Project 2013-2014 in Medie, Ghana

Joy2theWorld is very proud to partner with Rotary International and Rotary Clubs in the U.S. and Accra to complete the Sanitation Project we started March 1, 2013.  It took a team to produce the planning, negotiating, educating, financing, building of community cooperation, (long, hot, filthy) digging, bulldozing, spreading, planting and finally celebrating and photographing.

I will take this opportunity to appreciate Mohammed Sulemana’s hard work, patience, persistence and perseverance.  He played an important role in every stage of this project.  Mohammed worked tirelessly to make this happen and to get the cooperation of all the stakeholders…the community, the politicians, the government agencies, the contractors and more.  I cannot imagine this project’s success without Mohammed.

It was Sarah Ehrlinger, working full time on this project for Joy2theWorld, to raise the funds through Rotary and help us realize our dream to clear this toxic waste and improve the quality of life for the Medie community.  Because of her ingenuity and contacts with Rotary (as a Rotarian Ambassadorial Scholar) in the U.S. that we were able to fund this project.

Joy2theWorld had a team on this project that persisted and projected the completion NO MATTER WHAT!

Of course, we are forever grateful to Rotary International, Rotary Club of Houghton, MI (Past President Cindy Enderby) and President George Opare Baidu of Rotary Club of Accra-West, GH for the financial assistance to make this project come to life.

Joy2theWorld started this project assuming it would take 6 months and we would be free to start our school.  It actually took a year.  For this reason, we thank and acknowledge the staff and teachers and especially the children who have thrived in spite of the diverted attention of the Office Manager (Mohammed) and Proprietress (Kathleen Gibbs).  Now that the project is complete, you have our full attention!

And, last but not least, we are grateful to the community of Medie who listened to our promises and believed in us.  They participated in classes, Community Labor Day projects (where all the community arrived with rakes to clean the streets along  with the waste company),went door-to-door educating and today are celebrating with us – the fresh air, the clean land, the working public W.C. and dreams of a future open market place that will impact the economic stability of the whole village.

The "before" pictures

The “before” pictures

Thank you one and all.

Here are the pictures that encapsulates the

Children walking on toxic waste dump collecting aluminum to re-sell.

Children walking on toxic waste dump collecting aluminum to re-sell.

year of the Sanitation Project 2013-14.

Cleared, secure , clean land ...the "after" picture

Cleared, secure , clean land …the “after” picture

Zoomlion team ready to help community clean up

Zoomlion team ready to help community clean up

itEveryone works together on Communal Labor Day

The community came together to clean streets

Building a septic tank 7' deep

Building a septic tank 7′ deep

A plaque to acknowledge all the stakeholders in this project.

A plaque to acknowledge all the stakeholders in this project.

30 tree seedlings will grow exponentially during the rainy season to provide shade

30 tree seedlings will grow exponentially during the rainy season to provide shade

Completed W.C. with 5 toilets for men and 5 for women

Completed W.C. with 5 toilets for men and 5 for women

Banner & shovels at site for ground breaking ceremony

Banner & shovels at site for ground breaking ceremony

Bring in the heavy equipment!

Bring in the heavy equipment!

Here comes Cindy!

Here comes Cindy!4.

Completing Term 2 – and Successful PTA Meeting

A lively and happy PTA meeting started our final day in school for Term 2.  It was standing room only for parents who came to thank us for another great Term.  They said they were so happy because their children can read, write, speak English and they have so much to talk about when they get home!

Yes, we are all concerned about a bus…we desperately need transportation for our kids to get to school safely…but overall, parents were so thankful to Joy2theWorld and to the donors and sponsors in the U.S.A.

Happy parents at PTAfull house at the PTA meetingStanding room only for parents at PTA watching kids perform

The children performed a cultural dance and sang familiar songs as the parents watched with pride.  Of course, we had best student KG2 (David) and best student KG1 (Bevelyn) and many, many (9) who received prizes for no absences during the term.

Passionate about education

Passionate about education

The students have a week off, returning Tuesday, April 15 to begin Term 3.

Bevelyn - best student - KG1 Term 2

Bevelyn – best student – KG1 Term 2

Children performing for parents

Children performing for parents

Teacher, Charity is translating

Teacher, Charity is translating

Kelvin KG2

Kelvin KG2

David top student KG2 Term 2

David top student KG2 Term 2

Alice, no absences

Alice, no absences

Joachim, no absences

Joachim, no absences

We have a busy Term ahead of us as we finalize the year with lessons in math, writing, English and creative arts.  Our teachers have done well and will also have some time off to prepare for the next Term.

We will be starting our renovation in the next month as we add 3 more classrooms!  We are creating a classroom for Primary 1 and another room for those with special needs – tutoring one-on-one.  We have 1 ADHD and 6 with Dyslexia – so we will be rotating these children into our special needs classroom.  We need computers for this and we will put the computers to good use with our advanced students – rotating them into the special needs classroom.  This way, everyone will see this is not a room for children with problems, but a room for special training.

The teachers received  Professional Development training on dyslexia on how best to reach our children.  We all watched “Like Stars On Earth” (Khan Productions) which is an excellent reference to better understand our kids with dyslexia.  Then we (teachers and I) discussed teaching practices and methods to give our students an advantage.  We will begin implementing these practices even in the 3rd Term.  When we can tell the parents that some very bright, creative, famous people with dyslexia have learned and succeeded,  then they will recognize the need for their kids to stay in school.

But for now, we slow our pace for a week as we prepare for Term 3.  Children will be at home on spring vacation until April 15.  Teachers and staff will be preparing classrooms and lesson plans.

Thank you to all of you who are donors and sponsors.  This is only possible because of your generosity.

 

 

 

Sanitation Project is transforming the community of Medie

These days it is quite common to see neighbors come by and marvel at the activities surrounding the Sanitation Project – a partnership of Joy2theWorld, Rotary International, Rotary Accra-West and U.S. Rotaries – as waste is taken to an official waste dump and a clean, flat area is appearing.  The project is approximately 90% complete but this update shows great progress!

What a perfect opportunity to teach our children about caring for the environment.  Mohammed teaches students about keeping our environment clean – personal responsibility for throwing our trash into the trash bins!  He also taught about various types of dirt and how rich Ghana soil is for agriculture.  It is up to us to use this land wisely!

Children learn about our environment

Children learn about our environment

The community is involved in this project

The community is involved in this project

Removal of waste completed with heavy equipment

Removal of waste completed with heavy equipment

The waste removed, dirt crushed into the earth, and latrite (absorbing clay) layered on top

The waste removed, dirt crushed into the earth, and latrite (absorbing clay) layered on top

Field Trip to Bojo Beach

yet another group pose with a view of the beach

Our 28 students participated in a field trip to the private Bojo Beach…  The kids studied about salt water (and clean vs. contaminated water), fish, boats, shells and waves.  But it wasn’t until they changed into their suits (provided by Beth Brady, a Farmers’ Insurance Agent in Houston, TX) and ran through the sand that they realized all that they were learning!

We started out our excursion with a prayer for a safe journey… then all wore life preservers on the boat ride to the beach.  Mohammed began singing “If you’re happy and you know it, say Amen!”  “AMEN”  little voices heard as they crossed the water.  Later Mohammed said “I just wanted to distract the children so they wouldn’t be so afraid.”  Good thinking, Mohammed!

Barbara is buckled up for the short boat ride to the beach

Barbara is buckled up for the short boat ride to the beach

4 kids ready to sail!

4 kids ready to sail!

Pushing off from the dock

Pushing off from the dock

Once on the beach, the children realized all that they had learned about salt water, sand, shells and boats.  They were timid at first, but then began to play in the sand and waves.  Two teams searched for shells.  And others just sat in the water and waited for the waves to roll over them.

Kids heading for the beach

Kids heading for the beach

Feet in the water

Feet in the water

Feet in the water

Feet in the water

Everyone had a wonderful time!  We were all exhausted and the kids slept in the bus on the way home!  What a day!

This was a day of great fun and included a learning experience.  It was a day to enjoy the beauty of Ghana and understand how important it is to keep our environment clean.

This is what our students look like after 4 months in school!

 

The guys after playing soccer!

The guys after playing soccer!

Meet Christian, Joachim, Wisdom, Patrick and David!  They are shining examples how 4 months can transform a child’s life.  They were playing soccer during break and stopped for a moment to pose for my camera…good friends, laughing and playing.  Their education is rigorous too.  They are learning about spelling, reading, counting (and a little adding and subtraction), soil, water and tides.

When I asked little Joachim (KG1) “what did you learn today?”, he answered “sounds of the alphabet!”…phonics!  Now I am told, they all speak English outside of school too.  Parents come to greet us and thank us for their children’s education.

 

3 friends meeting before school

3 friends meeting before school

This is a picture of 3 friends – Mariama (who is new and will get her uniform next week), Gifty and Hannah-Kekeli.  They love coming to school and learning!  Now when I ask “How are you?” They say “Great!” or “Wonderful!” instead of the rote “I am fine”.  Our children are learning to express themselves in class and on the playground.

Please help us make a difference in these children’s lives by sponsoring a child.  The tuition is $90 per term or $30 per month.  The families must still pay a small fee to be part of the responsibility.  They appreciate what you are doing and feel as partners in their children’s education.  I am always proud to say “American friends are helping with your child’s tuition.”  They will always remember that.

 

Who are you “being” today? Pick your own character quality every day

The whole class Jan 31, 2014Beginning this Monday, February 3 we will have 30 students attending Joy2theWorld Christian International Preparatory School!  Our numbers are growing as word is getting out that our students are learning more!

We started a new practice to develop our understanding of ourselves and others.  Each day our students choose a character word or attitude to live by for the day.  They can choose “smart”, “kind”, “brave”, “polite”, “helpful”, “hardworking”, “creative” and many more.

They learn more about the character trait as well as learn that they get to choose who they are each day.   We are all different.  We all encompass many qualities.

Our children are in their second term and learning spelling words (phonics), counting by tens, and learning about their environment.  Our field trip this term is a trip to the beach.  So we are learning about fresh vs. salt water (and safe water vs. contaminated water), fish and tides.  The trip will include a short ride in a boat that takes us to the beautiful, clean beach.  We are coloring pictures of fish and boats for homework.  Word is out that a friend is sending bathing suits from the U.S.!

We are also learning about Genesis and how amazing and creative God is to create the moon, sun and all the planets …then the waters …and how tides are created.

Here are some of our new students:

Florence - Nursery

Florence – Nursery

David KG2

David KG2

Ivy - Nursery

Ivy – Nursery

 

Blessing

Blessing

A HAPPY NEW YEAR STARTS WITH OUR SANITATION PROJECT!

This is a story about making a difference.. being in a game worth playing.  It also includes some valuable information about Rotary and how you can get involved in your own communities.  Consider adding this to your 2014 Resolutions!

Yes, it is January 1, 2014!  And what better way to start off the new year than with sensational progress on our Sanitation Project in Medie, Ghana.  Everyone here is too excited to take the day off!  Plumbers, tilers, carpenters and masons are working inside!

Carpenters, Plumbers, Tilers, Masons, Laborers...all working on January 1...

Carpenters, Plumbers, Tilers, Masons, Laborers…all working on January 1…

This is all part of a huge sanitation project funded by Rotary – there are 5 steps :  1)  Education – with cooperation of the local EPA, we are training the local volunteers who will go door-to-door teaching about the dangers of toxic waste (and helping to change habits), 2) the renovation of this W.C. building as an alternative to bad habits, 3) the excavation and removal of the actual toxic waste, 4) covering the land with laterite – a top soil prepared for sealing the area of dangerous toxins and 5) planting trees in this community for the beautification of the area (plus to help with erosion!).

When I saw children here walking over the toxic waste, I was shocked!  It was overlooked because the local citizens don’t get how dangerous this is.  (I don’t think I have ever heard the word “pollution” here in rural areas.)   But cholera, typhoid and lead poisoning is very real and lies in the dirt, water and air.  Even today when I was at the site, I was chasing kids away!

Kids still walking on toxic waste but in 3 weeks this will all be GONE!  Yeah!

Kids still walking on toxic waste but in 3 weeks this will all be GONE! Yeah!

Step 1 is well underway!  The EPA is holding classes at our offices for the local volunteers.  This is on-going for the next couple of months.  We will also be holding a Communal Labor Day for the community to come out and clean our neighborhoods together.

Huge septic tank

Huge septic tank

Thanks to Rotary International, Rotary Houghton (MI), Appleton Downtown (WI), Calamet-Laurium-Keweenaw (MI) and Santa Ynez (CA), Rotary Accra-West and Joy2theWorld, Medie will have a new (renovated) public W.C. in the middle of town!

Rotary International is an international service organization whose stated purpose is to bring together business and professional leaders in order to provide humanitarian services, encourage high ethical standards in all vocations, and help build goodwill and peace in the world. It is a secular organization open to all persons regardless of race, colour, creed, religion, gender, or political preference. There are 34,282 clubs and over 1.2 million members worldwide.” (Wikipedia)

I joined Rotary 6 years ago when I was living in California (Pleasanton North Rotary).  I just returned from Ghana in 2007 where I saw a clinic that was built in Samsam, Ghana.  I was so impressed that Rotary cared about our villages, that I checked it out when I returned to the U.S.  Even when I transferred (with Farmers Insurance) to work in Houston, TX, I joined Rotary (North Shore) and participated in many local projects.  North Shore Rotary members were very generous financially in promoting J2W’s micro loan program.

And now, even though I moved to Ghana, I was fortunate to join Rotary Accra-West!   It is great to belong to an international organization that shares my beliefs.  Rotary’s motto is “Service Above Self”.

One day a week I attend my Rotary club and rub elbows with the BEST!  :-)  Today, because of Rotary Club Accra-West’s partnership with Rotary clubs in the U.S. (see list above), Rotary is funding this huge sanitation project!   In addition to this project, our Rotary is active in so many projects in the Accra, Ghana area.

Rotarian distributing books at special event

Rotarian distributing books at special event

Children performing at special book event

Children performing at special book event

Rotary is also a partner with Joy2theWorld in shipping 30,000 school books every year to Ghana.  Rotary Books for the World (Houston) ships the books (thanks to so many volunteers in Houston) and Rotary Accra-West and Joy2theWorld receive the books – distributing to over 120 rural school every year.  This is also a huge project and has been one of many projects that impacts the children’s education here.

I am so proud of the work that Rotary is doing internationally.   Rotary has partnered with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to fight polio and is winning!

General Secretary John Hewko provides an update on activities throughout the organization during the past year during the RI Convention in Bangkok, Thailand.

Rotary "End Polio Now Campaign" Ghana

Rotary “End Polio Now Campaign” Ghana

Living here in Ghana, I was actually able to deliver polio vaccines to the children living in the rural communities where I live.  I am so blessed to have this opportunity to make a difference with the help of Rotary!

If you are looking for a way to make a difference, consider becoming a Rotarian!  You can find out more about membership at https://www.rotary.org/myrotary/en/rotary-foundation.

2nd TERM STARTS JANUARY 6, 2014…TIME TO GET READY!

We are getting our school ready for Term 2.  Teachers are off for the week of December 23-27 for rest and family celebrations.  But everyone returns on December 30 for a week (minus New Year’s Day!) of decorating classrooms, paint touch ups, preparing a classroom for 3 year old children, and purchasing the required books and supplies.

We need to upgrade our stairs to make them safe for our children, adding 4 toilets and 2 sinks to meet safety and health requirements.  Not exciting stuff but very necessary.

spot for new toilets

spot for new toilets

Stairs need repair

Stairs need repair

It is quiet these days as the children are home for the holidays.  No singing.  No laughter.  But all these will soon return in 2 weeks.  We can’t wait!  We have exciting lessons to teach and experiences to share.  Our field trip was such a success last term.  The children learned so much.  The parents were excited and pleased that we took the kids to the airport – learning about transportation.  At the PTA meeting we asked, “what did you think about our field trip?”  “Oh!  TOO MUCH!  We liked it TOO MUCH!”

What’s up for the Term 2 field trip?  Shhh.  It’s a secret right now!  Another surprising, learning opportunity for our students.

We need your help to do these renovations and preparations for our children.  Sponsor a child with $90 for the term or $30 for a month to keep our kids in school.  You can donate on this website.

 

 

TERM 1 completed for our KG1 and KG2…Congratulations to teachers and students!

Congratulations to the students for completing TERM 1!  Friday, December 13, 2013 was the final day of Term 1 and the first PTA meeting!  The children sang and danced for the parents and then were surprised to receive gifts (books to take home) for 100% attendance!

Wisdom was first in his KG2 class…based on exams and participation in class.  He received a “Beginners’ Bible” for his hard work.  Beverlyn was first in KG1 and received books and art supplies to take home.Wisdom - Best student KG2

Bevelyn-Best Student KG1

But mostly the day was about having fun and being acknowledged.  Children had candy and sang Christmas carols.  Children will be coming back next week for Bible Study.

Thanks to generous donors from the U.S., each of our children received a set of play clothes plus socks and shoes to use as gym clothes.  Our uniforms take a beating during recess because our kids play hard!  So each child will change into their new gym clothes before hitting the playground. 

Each child received a package with new gym clothes!

Each child received a package with new gym clothes!

We are grateful to all our donors! 

The PTA showed up in their numbers and they were grateful for all the work our teachers have done to provide a good foundation and education for the children.   We discussed new challenges and many asked…where will our children attend school next year?  We have dreams of a large school for up to 500 children.  We also discussed our need for a school bus (mini bus) for transporting children across a major highway. 

It was a great day and a great message to end our very first Term. 

Kids sang and danced for their parents

Kids sang and danced for their parents

Teachers shared classroom experiences

Teachers shared classroom experiences

Parents showed up in their numbers

Parents showed up in their numbers