GPE Ghana takes place in the small village of Tafi Atome, Ghana. The partnership mainly focuses on providing assistance in the local primary school. Assistance is provided by grading papers, supervising students, one-on-one help, and substituting for the teacher in their absence. GPE Ghana also works to provide after school tutoring to help reinforce what was taught that day in school and with whatever else the students may need help with. GPE Ghana also provides its own side programs to the community which include Compassionate Women, Keep Fit Club, Leadership, and Teen Girls Empowerment. GPE Ghana strives to become a part of the community and be welcomed as a group of friends, not a group of strangers who keep isolated.
GPE Ghana was initiated in 2014 and started making a difference from the start. Early projects show that the community is very receptive to new projects proposed by GPE. These projects include the Keep Fit Club, tutoring/school, Compassionate Women, Teen Girls Empowerment, and leadership.
The Keep Fit Club brings the youth of the village together early in the morning to go for a healthy run down the main road while everyone sings, claps, blows whistles, and plays little instruments. After their joyous long run, everyone gets together to sweep their streets and make Tafi Atome presentable for whoever may visit that day. Keep Fit Club was still in existence during our last visit and we expect it to continue bringing the community together.
GPE has always been involved in the education of the village so students always know that when GPE is there, the library is open for after school tutoring and the library is packed with students. This involvement in the education of the students has resulted in clear improvements in the capabilities of the students.
Compassionate Women was started in 2014 with the intention of bringing groups of women together to put their skills to use and provide them their own source of income. Skills include sewing, making soap, weaving, and various other crafts. While it has had it's low points, it is benefiting the community and was still in existence during our last visit.
Teen Girls Empowerment was started in 2015 with the goal of bringing teen girls together and providing them a group they can confide in and lean on in times of need. This was created in the form of a mentorship program where older girls were paired with younger girls to provide some guidance and motivation. The girls really enjoyed having their sisterhood and took pride in the scheduled time they had together.
GPE Ghana provided a leadership seminar for the class leaders of each class who are supposed to be the example of what a good student is. The students received a free book and pencil for their participation and showed clear effort to better lead their peers.
GPE was also involved in the construction of Melor Vinye Wo, the orphanage for rescued child slaves, in 2014. GPE helped make bricks, lay the bricks, and start the foundation for the orphanage. Unfortunately, due to insufficient funds, GPE Ghana 2015 was unable to continue working on the orphanage.
GPE Ghana plans to continue being involved in all of its past partnerships to ensure they are all serving their purpose so that, ultimately, they will be completely self-sustained. Future GPE Ghana service trips hope to continue working on Melor Vinye Wo and, when it is up and running, provide a helping hand to those former child slaves. Help may come in the form of being present in the private school within the orphanage, tutoring, cooking, caring for the kids, and/or helping the kids get accustomed to their new lives. GPE Ghana also plans to continue doing research in various fields such as what was done for Compassionate Women. GPE Ghana is currently looking into new potential programs such as community clean-ups, sexual education, and environmental awareness.
Ghana Project Director
Juan is a second year FSU student from West Palm Beach, Florida. He is majoring in International Affairs with a focus in Political Science, a minor in Naval Science, Physics, and a possible double major in Psychology. Outside of GPE, Juan is also an honors student, an honors delegate, and with Naval ROTC. He will be pursuing a career as an officer in the US Navy upon graduation. He has been involved in GPE since the start of his freshman year and had the opportunity to participate in the 2015 Ghana Project. Juan is now the director of the 2016 Ghana Project. He was in charge of the leadership component of last year's partnership and had an amazing time, overall. He is definitely excited to go back to see "his" students.
Fun fact: After his time in Ghana, Juan backpacked Europe, by himself, for a month. He can now say he has been to every continent in the world except for Antarctica!
About Compassionate Journeys
Compassionate Journeys is a non-governmental organization working in Ghana, West Africa. They understand the needs in developing countries, but have a different concept of what "help" means. The organization believes that simply throwing money or donations at the problem is not the answer. In order to create change, we believe we must empower the people to make change for themselves. Their programs are aimed at developing communities, and developing leaders, so that real change can begin.