Midtown visionary Marva Ellard partners with PAMBE Ghana at The Sieber Apartments

Marva Ellard is a woman with a mission: revitalizing Central Oklahoma City’s aging older buildings. She’s tackled some real challenges, including the Midtown showplace: The Sieber Apartments at 1305 N. Hudson. When she took it on in 2005, the 1920’s-era Sieber Apartment Hotel had been vacant for years and was in poor condition, but she knew it could be brought back to life, and it’s now a complex of 30 apartments and 8 loft-style units. This year, she extended her hospitality to the PAMBE Ghana Global Market, which opened November 9 in the ground floor of the Sieber, in a space some remember as the hotel’s restaurant.

The Global Market, a holiday-season fair-trade market, raises money for an Oklahoma City-based nonprofit organization that supports a pioneering bilingual primary school in rural Ghana. A completely volunteer-run enterprise, it is always housed in donated space, so to have benefactors like Ms. Ellard and her partners come forward is a true boon.

Ellard’s imagination allows her to see potential in unlikely places. She and partner Billy Woodring recently purchased the former Villa Theresa school in Midtown, closed since 2012. They plan to develop the striking former convent into a boutique hotel, with for-sale townhouses and condominiums planned on the site, as well. Steve Lackmeyer, reporting in The Oklahoman September 6 2017, quotes Ellard:  “There were rampant rumors about them wanting to demolish part or all of the Villa Theresa campus. That was not going to be the right thing to do. . . . Those buildings are important to the social fabric of our city and of my neighborhood, Heritage Hills. Keeping them matters.”

This philosophy meshes well with that of PAMBE Ghana, which believes the lives of children in rural Ghana matter, and that they have great potential.

Bricktown Rotary Club grant funds important LLC literacy projects

PAMBE Ghana is dedicated to teaching children to read both in the local Mampruli language and in English. One hurdle is the paucity of early readers written in Mampruli, as it is primarily a spoken language.

Shortly after La’Angum Learning Center opened in 2008, PAMBE Ghana teamed up with Ghana Institute of Linguistics Languages and Bible Translation (GILLBT) to produce early readers in the Mampruli language. OKC’s Bricktown Rotary Club funded the project, providing the early readers for La’Angum Learning Center (LLC).


A new grant from Bricktown Rotary Club funds three important projects:

First, the grant will provide replacements for the first books, which have worn out after years of exposure to the climate in rural Ghana and many little hands. In addition to the replacements, the Club is funding more story books and alphabet/phonics books for LLC.


Second, To support English language reading skills, PAMBE Ghana recently partnered with a British organization “Let’s Read Ghana”, which conducts 2-day teacher training courses for teaching phonics and reading skills to young children. Funded by the Bricktown Rotary Club grant, LLC teachers traveled to the nearby town of Sirigu and participated in the training course last summer. The funds also allowed LLC to purchase early reading primers in the English language, including Have you seen the girl?

Third, the Bricktown Rotary Club supported our lending library project at LLC, by funding the shipment of 1750 donated books on a cargo ship from OKC to Accra and the materials and labor needed for construction of library bookshelves by local artisans.

Susan Kovats: What is the mission of the Rotary International?

Chuck Shirley: Rotary International is a civic service organization that began with an international focus. One of their first goals was to eradicate polio. Rotary fosters connections between communities, and local clubs often reaching out to provide aid via other national and international clubs during disasters. For example, Rotary Clubs all over the world supported recovery efforts after the devastating Moore tornado in 2013. This spirit informs the Bricktown Rotary Club, which works on international projects as well as projects in the OKC community.

SK: Tell us about the Bricktown Rotary Club and the motivation to support PAMBE Ghana.

CS: One of the 6 pillars of Rotary International is literacy. Our first grant to PAMBE Ghana supported the printing of early readers in the Mampruli language. We saw the impact of those books on the children’s reading skills and we were impressed by the accomplishments of PAMBE Ghana as the first cohort of children graduated from 6th grade last year. Our members were excited about the opportunity to once again work with PAMBE Ghana to help the children of La’Angum Learning Center acquire literacy in the Mampruli and English languages. Bricktown Rotary is a club of younger professionals who are do’ers. We are committed to the community and to each other. In addition to fundraising, members enjoy “hands on” volunteering for local projects. This year members hope to volunteer at the PAMBE Ghana Global Market.

SK: Which factors underlie your personal motivation to work with Bricktown Rotary Club and serve as president?

CS: As I progressed toward a Master’s Degree in Business, I was exposed to volunteering, and I realized that I wanted to be more involved in the community. During an internship in OKC, I was invited to a Bricktown Rotary Club meeting. I found a group of young professionals who wanted to make a difference in the community and to be involved in ways more than simply writing checks. I knew then that I didn’t want to sit on the couch anymore!

SK: What sort of local projects does the Bricktown Rotary Support?

CS: We have supported Chain Reaction – a donated bike program for the homeless and North Winds Living Center – a hospice for persons living with HIV/AIDS. We also sponsored the dragon boat team of NewView Oklahoma - an organization of the visually impaired, and built a tree house for the Boys and Girls Club.

Listen to Alice and Linda Discuss PAMBE Ghana

Listen to Alice Iddi-Gubbels and Linda Temple discuss PAMBE Ghana's mission and the Global Market in a video made by Nate Fein, of OU Nightly. Shop at the Global Market this week until Dec. 24. Located at 6516 N. Olie, OKC.

Rainbow of Hope for Children Provides Funding

Thank you to the Canadian Rainbow of Hope for Children (ROHFC) for providing funding to support the PAMBE Ghana Health, Nutrition and Sanitation Program! rainbow-hope1 The objectives of the project are:rainbow-hope3
  1. To provide mid-day lunches for the students to include purchasing food, the salary of a school lunch coordinator, and hauling and transport of foodstuffs from the community and local markets.
  2. To provide basic health care to the 250 students to include paying the National Health Insurance Annual Premium and purchasing first aid products for the school.
  3. To foster sanitation at the school to purchase soap and sanitary related cleaning products.
rainbow-hope2 Previous support from ROHFC in 2013 and 2014 included the funding of particular staffing and operation and maintenance programs at the La’Angum Learning Center. In 2014-15, ROHFC provided PAMBE Ghana with new infrastructure to improve the facilities, specifically building a library and a technology lab, including a system of collecting and storing rainwater for those using these facilities. ROHFC also assisted the Rotary clubs of Wainwright, Alberta, Watford, Ontario and Tamale, Ghana to install solar panels and computers in the technology lab.

1st Graders’ Art benefits PAMBE Ghana

heritage-hall-artRenowned artists van Gogh, O'Keeffe and Picasso would have been proud of the Heritage Hall 1st grade artists for masterpieces inspired by their works. The pieces were on display in early May at the annual art gallery benefiting PAMBE Ghana. At last count, nearly $1,800 had been raised for the organization.

Donate Today

Your Donation Today Will Help PAMBE Ghana Provide:
-- Teacher's salary
-- Children’s health insurance
-- Montessori materials
-- Teacher education

PAMBE Ghana is a 501(c)(3) registered charitable organization.