OCTOBER 2014 VISIT TO ELMINA, GHANA
George Weir just returned from a 14 day visit to Elmina to "make education possible". It was an exciting time with many memorable activities. Some highlights:
- A celebration to recognize the first four "TODAY'S STARS"
- Awards to the best "Adinkra" stories written by the JHS students.
- Donation of two e-readers to our libraries and begun a reading contest.
- Seven Edinaman HS scholarships awarded, adding to the 14 upperclassmen.
- Selection of Joseph, senior at Edinaman and prefect for his class, for a national contest for using MS Word.
- Continued implementation of play centered KGs with addition of pen pals in Pittsburgh.
- Positive impact of Pay it Forward students at Christ Cares.
- Christ Cares 9th Graders had best BECE exam results EVER!
More photos at Pbase.com:
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For more than 11 years we (Tomorrow's Stars) have been "making education possible" in Elmina with the dream that one day, the students would grow up to have successful careers and be dedicated to helping their juniors do the same.
I am proud to say that on October 25th we awarded the title of "TODAY'S STAR" to four outstanding achievers. They are Rudolph Mensah (Pioneer), Solomon Ewusie (Guide), Francis Wiredu (Climber) and Leticia Ewusi (Mentor to Girls).
This award is based on:
- SCHOLASTIC EXCELLENCE
- DEDICATION TO OUR MISSION (making education possible)
- PAYING IT FORWARD.
Rudolph Mensah: First TS student to go to Edinaman HS. Graduated from KNUST University as president of Herbal Medicine class. Paid it Forward two years as teacher at Christ Cares. Now performing national service year at hospital in Eastern Region. Rudolph is always leading the way, he is our "Pioneer".
Solomon Ewusie: Graduate of Edinaman, in 4th year at Univ Cape Coast in education management. Currently student teaching at Edinaman. Always paying it forward with libraries, reading clubs, helping Sue with projects. Advises George on decisions and fairness related to scholarships and projects. Solo provides wise counsel, he is our "Guide".
Leticia Ewusi: Graduate of Edinaman. Paying it Forward at Christ Cares in library and founder and leader of Girl's Club. Plans to attend nursing school next year. Leticia is a strong woman with a sense of fairness and discipline. The 25 young girls in the girls club (ages 9-16) rely on her guidance as they grow up. She is our "Mentor for Girls".
Francis Wiredu: Best JHS BECE test score at Abrem Essiam School. Valedictorian at Edinaman. Third year optometry student at Univ Cape Coast with nearly straight As. Pays it Forward in Abrem Essiam by helping Kathy build library and inspiring students. As the quote says "We will push those who are climbing", Francis is a "climber".
PHOTOS FROM THE CELEBRATION WITH OUR FRIENDS
Leticia with Christopher George with Francis and Raymond Asst HM at Edinaman
George and Mr. Amanfu, friend and former HM at Edinaman addressing the group.
Attendees on left, Raymond and Maxwell and Osei on right
Leticia and Solo enjoying the awards, then dinner at Godwin's restaurant to celebrate Today's Stars
ADINKRA STORY AWARDS
Last summer volunteer Sue came to Elmina; her project was to enable Girls' Clubs and Reading Clubs to write stories about the Ghanaian Adinkra symbols. See 2014 Fall News for the link to all 56 stories.
George, Sue, Richard and Solomon reviewed the stories and awarded certificates and prizes of T-shirts (from volunteer Fred) and pens
to the 13 best stories.
Angela and Cecelia from Christ Cares with prizes presented by EHS teacher Susie.
Faustina and Hanna from Bantuma reading club. Solo with 12 Unicef tee shirts from donor Fred.
e-Readers come to Elmina!!
At suggestion of Sue, we purchased two e-readers to be shared at the libraries. These e-readers have over 100 downloaded books, most of which are African stories. In fact some of the books are those written by the Bantuma reading club in 2013, so they can read their own stories.
The e-readers have been well received and getting lots of use. A contest has been initiated between the three libraries to see which students and schools do the most e-reading. The contest will end Jan 31 and prizes will be awarded. The outcome will likely lead to the purchase of more e-readers. These are about $150 each, so will be hoping for some funding.
Christ Cares Girls' club learning about e-readers
Bantuma Reading club with e-reader. George presenting e-reader to Abrem Essiam library.
GIRLS' CLUB AND READING CLUB
We are hoping that these Tomorrow's Stars groups will be a key part of implementing e-readers and promoting reading at Bantuma, and Christ Cares. Richard, the PIF librarian at Bantuma has done a great job of directing and growing the reading club.
George explaining e-reader to Bantuma reading club. Richard and Sue from July.
Leticia (Today's Star) advises the Christ Cares Girl's Club who make knit goods and jewelry as well as write pen pal letters to send to Sue in California.
Leticia with girls' club creations. Girls' club posing.
EDINAMAN HS SCHOLARSHIP STUDENTS
This years Grade 9 BECE results were excellent at Christ Cares and we have awarded high school boarding scholarships to all three graduates; Lawrenda (best girls score ever), Joshua and Veronica. We also awarded one to Emmanuel Bentil from Bantuma who also had excellent results.
Joshua, Lawrenda and Emmanuel on left, Veronica preparing for enrollment
Three more scholarships were awarded to Constance (a former Christ Cares student) and two second year students who were recommended by EHS staff. These additional 7 scholarships brings our total to 21 scholarship students in HS now. Our overall total is nearing 100 total HS scholarships by Tomorrow's Stars. Thanks to the donors for making a significant impact on the lives of these students by making education possible.
Scholarship students, l=Regina, Joseph, Portia, c=Esther, Philo, Sharon and Portia,
r= Emmanuel, Francis, Joshua, Rolland, Daniel, and Justice
Our senior student Joseph has been selected for a national contest for MS Word 2010, joining about 100 students from all over Ghana. There are weekly Saturday classes and interactions on the web with a final contest in Feb 2015. One of our donors has donated a laptop for him to use and we have loaned him a modem for internet to help him prepare. Joseph is the school prefect as well as 5th in his class of 800 academically, so we think he has a good chance. Four of his classmates are also in and the winner represents Ghana in a world competition. GO JOSEPH!!
Joseph with donated laptop for MS Word contest prep. Cynthia with the five contestants, Joseph on right
We are also excited to have TODAY'S STAR Solomon and pay it forward student Otoo doing their student teaching at Edinaman. Also, our friend Biology teacher Cynthis has added responsibilities as manager of Computer lab. It is great to see our friends staying local to help the younger students.
Solo on right with Rudolph visiting EHS library. Cynthia: Biology teacher and computer lab manager.
PLAY CENTERED KG AT CHRIST CARES
Our effort to move from rote learning (after decades in Ghana) to play centered KG continues. We have two classes, KG1 and KG2, generally ages 4 and 5. Our teachers are Josephine and Christina. The rooms have many play centers and toys as well as pink bags for their papers. Our STAR Solo helps to train them and assure they do the required observations of development. We also have a Pay It Forward student Joanna who is assisting. It seems to be a remarkable transformation.
As a highlight, a KG in Pittsburgh sent drawings and stories about fall and pumpkins which the KG children enjoyed. They responded with a traditional Anansi story with drawings which will soon be delivered to the students here with photos of their new pen pals. What Fun!!
KG2 students learning to write and working on pen pal letters. George teaching fist bump as greeting, for hygiene.
Christina with KG2 students with personalized school bags.
Christina and PIF student Joanna with KG1 students with bags with nametags.
CHRIST CARES INTERNATIONAL SCHOOL
Christ Cares has changed its name to reflect the international relationship with Tomorrow's Stars. Maxwell is doing a fine job and some recent improvements are:
- A new web site at christcaresinterna.wix.com/school
- Use of a microloan bank to handle parents' payment of school fees.
George and Maxwell in discussions with school in background
Repainting of the water tank, it is looking good with the designs of Grade one teacher Osborne.
Osborne at water tank and designing final drawing.
Thanks to Tomorrow's Stars for water tank. PIF student Chris showing water usage.
A router supplied by Fred to supply internet to the computers in the ICT lab. Two used laptops were donated to add to the existing 3 desktops.
ICT teacher Esther showing students how to use touch pad.
Students using donated laptop. Rt: router hooked up with two donated laptops.
George attended a Friday Quiz show with 4 teams of 2 Grade 3 students. The George team of Mavis and Albert took second place edged out on the last question. Mavis was a little sad and George gave consolation with a hug and a pen.
Albert and Mavis from "George house". PIF students and teacher Eric as emcees and judges.
Eight quiz contestant from grade 3, the sad Mavis on right. Mavis and Albert happier the next day.
A teacher named Keedra from NY is bringing a class to Elmina in March. She has linked with Christ Cares and teacher Perpetual and 14 students for the cross cultural diaspora event. Our students have written pen pal letters, which will go to Keedra for introduction. What a fun week it will be.
Teacher Perpetual, she is always going. Students picked as pen pals and friends for Keedra's group in March.
Science Lab: Past student Eric continues to develop the science lab. Donor Dave has provided a condenser which helps us with the salt water distillation demonstration.
Abrem Essiam School:
Since TODAY'S STAR Francis is from there, we had a small celebration to recognize him, his father the chief spoke passionately about education.
Francis' father Nana motivating the crowd. Francis showing e-reader.
Abrem Essiam students at celebration. Nana and George with some chatting time at library.
By some good fortune, George has met the leader and a volunteer from an optometry NGO helping at Univ Cape Coast and hooked Francis with them. There will be a vision screening in his village in January for all children and of course Francis and his colleagues will learn much about optometry. Again, making education possible.
Carolina and Liza with Francis. Also George and Richard from Bantuma.
We also shared an e-reader with librarian Isaac and he is joining the contest. The bathroom and septic project for the school is nearing completion.
PAYING IT FORWARD
We still have many pay it forward students at Christ Cares and the Libraries working to make education possible while they prepare for the next stage of their education and careers. Besides filling in as teachers as needed and being mentors for the younger students, they use our backtrack system to help the Grade 9 prepare for BECE.
Rockson, Eric and Otabil, always paying it forward. Solo and Otabil helping with interview of student Constance
They also work on projects such as: painting the water tank
arranging for the ceremony and pineapple day.
Teachers Perpetual and Cece cutting pineapples, bagging for delivery to students.
You can't imagine how juicy and sweet they are. Cape Coast pineapple, best in the world.
Student celebrating pineapple day. Organized by PIF students, paid for by TS ($13). George with KG students.
There is a new project to improve handwashing initiated by Rudolph and carried out by Chris and Rockson. This initiative can help disease prevention in general but especially cholera and ebola (even though no ebola cases have been reported in Ghana at this time).
Rudolph talking cholera and handwashing at celebration, and at Christ Cares assembly
PIF students Rockson and Chris got Veronica tanks and beginning implementation of improved handwashing.
Fun stuff we get to do:
Having close friends in a far away country provides entertainment and friendship opportunities unknown to tourists. Here are a few:
A Saturday morning trot with some young men with some tee shirts as prizes.
Tee shirts and shoes after the trot.
Table tennis with PIF students Eric, Otabil, Chris and Solo. Otabil was again the champ with George runnerup. Good games and fun times.
Solo and Eric playing. George with winner Otabil.
The Adehe family had sent some small boys to push a hand truck of wet sand to their house. They were surprised when it was brought into the courtyard by an old white man and some Pay it forward students.
George pulling the sand truck into the Adehe house. Surprise in the courtyard.
Music is very important in Elmina and Maxwell has a side career. Here are a couple of photos while I enjoyed his keyboard play as well as that of Scholarship student Joshua.
Maxwell at left, Joshua with teachers and PIF students at right.
Golf at the Coconut Grove golf course, we are a slow 7-some but enjoying the time with pro Daniel. And George's favorite saxophone player, the 84 year old Mr Biney came to the hotel to play. He can still do it.
Maxwell getting tips from pro Daniel. Mr. Biney playing "What a wonderful world"