Board Member Barb Reid Believes in Education

PAMBE Ghana Board Member Barb Reid

The door to adventure swung wide open for Barb Reid when, as an undergrad at Texas A&M, she declared her major to be Wildlife and Fishing Science. “I have always had this passion for nature,” explains the long time PAMBE Ghana board member.  “And there’s a bit of an adventurer in me, too.” These qualities have taken Barb all over the world, living in really tough conditions, doing difficult jobs with minimal support, and relying on her own resourcefulness.

Early on she was in Alaska as the biologist onboard a commercial fishing vessel, responsible for ensuring compliance with the fishing laws. Some of her work involved observing shipboard activities, but she also worked with the catch, identifying species and taking biological measurements. “It was a fascinating job!” recalls Barb.

She stayed in Alaska to do fieldwork with the Bowhead Whale Project out of Barrow, located 300 miles north of the Arctic Circle. Barb did aerial survey work her first year, flying in a small plane 500 feet above the ground. Her second year was land-based, during the Arctic summer. She camped on an ice pack, collecting data that helped determine how many of this endangered species the native people could harvest. “We’d take a snowmobile from camp to our survey point,” said Barb. “It was light 24 hours, but it was cold: 32 felt warm. We’d work 6 days a week, 24/7, on 4 hours then sleep 4 hours. We’d even use the same sleeping bag!” On day 7 she’d go to town, bathe and sleep in a bed.

Eventually Barb moved south, completing a Masters in Conservation Education at Texas A&M, and then joining the Peace Corps. Barb’s assignment was in the remote villages of Guatemala’s Cuchumante Mountains. “The first time we hiked up from the main town it took us about four hours. We got so we could do it in two.” Her job was to help with reforestation after illegal logging left the slopes bare and topsoil eroding. “We set up tree nurseries in each of the villages and worked with the farmers,” she said. “I’d teach them agricultural techniques like terracing and planting along the contour of the slope.” Although Barb speaks Spanish, she needed a translator to communicate. The villagers were indigenous Mayans who spoke Mam. “It was in Guatemala that I learned what it was like to be a teacher in a remote location,” says Barb.

Barb’s experiences don’t end there. She was in the Crisis Corps responding to a devastating hurricane in the Dominican Republic. She married another adventurer and Peace Corps alum, Steve Reid (who had worked in Northern Ghana), and the couple taught school in Madagascar for two years. She taught elementary school in Oklahoma City’s dual language program at Wheeler Elementary. And she worked at World Neighbors, where she met Peter Gubbels and his, wife, Alice.

Alice was just completing her degree at Oklahoma City University. PAMBE Ghana didn’t yet exist, but Barb felt a kinship with Alice. A few years later, Barb joined PAMBE Ghana’s board. “I was just thrilled,” she remembered. “I would actually like to be out there working in Ghana, but being involved here is the next best thing.” Barb continues, “I think I have something to contribute, having lived in the Third World. I know what it’s like for those teachers to teach, and what reality is in such a place, no matter where. We all have similar stories.”

LLC Graduates First Class of Students

They started seven years ago as preschoolers. Now, three days of festivities honor them as La’Angum Learning Center’s first graduating class.
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Haruna Toahiru

With these boys and girls began a powerful journey that hundreds of children in this remote portion of Northern Ghana will follow. They have completed their elementary education and are academically prepared to move on to junior high. LLC’s bilingual curriculum enabled them to master English sufficiently to move on to the all-English public schools. They have a future that was not available to them or children in their villages just eight years ago. This is, indeed, a cause for celebration!
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Haadi Adambla

There are 27 students in this graduating class: 14 girls and 13 boys. As a graduation gift, the PAMBE Ghana board has offered to pay the seventh grade school fees those who go on to attend junior high this fall. This amounts to roughly $100 per student, which is a substantial amount for these students’ families as most are living at subsistence level. These scholarship funds were donated by PAMBE Ghana friends and supporters. Our board hopes to repeat this gift for every graduating class in the future. The celebration begins July 25 with activities and games, such as sack races, egg races and popular bread-eating competitions. This is a friend raiser, and also a fundraiser, so participants will pay a small fee to enter.
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Daniel Nyaba

The ceremonial graduation event is July 27. In true Ghanaian fashion, it will last for several hours. Scores of people will attend, including parents and families, dignitaries from the area’s business community, Ghana Education Service, local and regional government, NGOs such as CARE International, and religious, tribal and village leadership. “Travel Around Africa” is the day’s unifying theme. The program will include several cultural dances, story telling and dramatic performances by the students, and the awarding of certificates. Graduation of LLC’s first class of students carries tremendous significance. To the graduates and their families, it is the opening of a door to a completely new future. It fuels the aspirations of younger students.  To LLC’s teachers and staff, it is the culmination of a seven-year process in which they have been central players. To PAMBE Ghana supporters, it is the exciting final act that affirms our efforts to establish a unique school in an underserved community. It is also the first act in PAMBE Ghana’s future, as we continue our work to help shape the ever-evolving community that is La’Angum Learning Center.

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.

Second Annual PAMBE Ghana Fest, May 8

Want to try new international foods, explore a Fair Trade Global Market and spend an evening outside in lovely gardens? Listen to music, dance and learn about a group of Oklahomans who are supporting a school in Ghana? Then don’t miss the second annual PAMBE Ghana Fest, 6-9 p.m. Friday, May 8, at St. Paul’s Cathedral, NW 7 and Robinson. Admission will be $8 a person, $15 a couple and free for children 12 and under. Funds from the event will support the La’Angum Learning Center, an innovative, Montessori-based school in northern Ghana. “Last year the Fest was a fun event with support from friends and supporters of PAMBE Ghana, as well as members of the large Ghanaian community here in Oklahoma,” Board President Susan Kovats said. “This year’s Fest will be another fabulous opportunity to learn about and enjoy the Ghanaian culture.” PAMBE Ghana is a partnership between local communities in northern Ghana and supporters in Oklahoma. Together they’ve built the La’Angum Learning Center, a new model for education in Ghana — new because it first teaches children in the language they speak and in a child-centered way. The school currently serves pre-kindergarten through fifth grade, but hopes to expand. “The Cathedral is proud to support PAMBE Ghana,” The Very Rev. Justin Lindstrom, dean of St. Paul’s Cathedral and a PAMBE board member, said. “We are so glad to be hosting the PAMBE Ghana Fest again this year and hope many will come out to enjoy our beautiful gardens, as well as the great food and entertainment." Bring folding chairs or blankets to enjoy entertainment on the grass. In the event of rain, the Fest will be moved indoors.

Alice discusses PAMBE Ghana on KGOU - World Views

Listen to Alice's conversation with Suzette Grillot on World Views, airing Friday, January 24 between 4 and 4:30 p.m., and again between 6:30 and 7 p.m. The segment will air again Saturday, January 25, between 6 and 6:30 a.m.

Click the KGOU image below to stream Alice's interview, and read the full article by Brian Hardzinski and Suzette Grillot!

KGOU

A generous donation

Mrs. Glady Lariba Mahama, right, Alice Azumi Iddi-Gubbels, left.

Mrs. Glady Lariba Mahama is one of the AC members of PAMBE Ghana, who has been doing very well and working very actively for P.G. She recently paid a courtesy visit to the PAMBE Ghana office, and gladly donated a bag of corn for the lunch of the 131 children of La'Angum Learning Center. Thank you, Mrs. Glady Lariba Mahama! Your generosity is greatly appreciated!

Water is life

We ran out of water completely from the rainwater harvesting cisterns. The 3rd graders and older children from other grades began carrying water to school.  The problem was discussed at a PTA and several options were considered for the immediate relief, including asking mothers to assume the task as before.  However, some women spoke of their already heavy workload and it was decided parents pay GHS 1.00 per child. I agreed that PAMBE Ghana will supplement their contributions to pay for 10 trips of carting water at GHS 25.00 per trip.  The Langbinsi Presbyterian Agricultural Station provides this service. The water is dirty, and unless filtered, is not safe for drinking.  But dirty water also quenches fire! This has really put water in focus even more than before. I submitted an application to the district assembly, and spoke with the water and sanitation team about a feasibility study for a borehole. Luckily for us, a team of water technicians, including hydro geologists, was engaged to do feasibility studies for drilling water wells in the district. With the help of Mr. Alhassan from the district water and sanitation team, I was able to negotiate a two-day study to find if there’s appreciable ground water near the school to merit the cost of drilling a well. They first gathered information on an existing drilled well near the village about a mile and half from the school, as a baseline. They were able to find two possible sites near LLC, one of which had slightly higher potential. I am considering three options to address the water problem. The ultimate goal is to have a permanent source of clean potable water in the school. a)     Drill a well (borehole) close to LLC and mechanize it, after undertaking a “pump test” which will include the quality of the water and yield/min.  Pump the water (with a solar water pump) to an overhead tank. b)     Lay pipes from an existing well (one and half miles away) to LLC and mechanize as above. c)     Build another rainwater harvesting system and continue to expand as the student population increases. According to the feasibility studies just done, option a) will be more reliable and cheaper eventually.

Ghana Independence Day

On March 6, 1957, 56 years ago, Ghana became the first African nation to gain independence from a colonial power (the United Kingdom). Modern Ghana is a combination of the former British Togoland (the Volta Region, along the east) and of the colony known as the Gold Coast. The word Ghana means Warrior King, and is derived from the ancient Ghana Empire. Modern Ghana’s motto is “Freedom and Justice."  The national anthem is “God Bless Our Homeland in Ghana," and is sung before the National Pledge of Ghana. As in the United States, Independence Day is Ghana is marked by parades and fireworks. National Pledge of Ghana I promise on my honor to be faithful and loyal to Ghana my motherland.
I pledge myself to the service of Ghana with all my strength and with all my heart.
I promise to hold in high esteem our heritage, won for us through the blood and toil of our fathers; and I pledge myself in all things to uphold and defend the good name of Ghana.
So help me God.

Reptiles in the Classroom

Hello, Take it that you open a bag of corn, deep your hand inside to fetch, touch something strange, peep inside the bag and see the attached. What will you do? This was the experience one female teacher of the Bumboazio (La’angum) school encountered one early morning in her usual duty to serve the cooks with their usual daily food quantities to prepare school lunch. I wish you were there to see how the teacher and cooks took to their heels. The children without taking to verify as to what was happening also took off after having seen their teacher and cooks racing. Fortunately some 2 male parents passing to Langbinsi came to the aid of the other male teachers to fight and kill this reptile. On one instance, Alice was in the store room alone when a snake entered through the door. You could hear her screaming even from 200 meters away. The school has a lot of these reptiles around the bushes and rocks. The parents do organize communal labour and clear round the school but the reptiles still remain in the holes under the rocks. Teachers and children are terrified, run and classes disrupted anytime they spot one. The teachers and children are worried and does not appreciate how we share our classrooms with these reptiles. This is indeed worrisome and your suggestions on how to control this classroom sharing is highly welcome. Counting much on your advices and suggestions!!! Bukari Baba

In the school store room

  Take it that you open a bag of corn, deep your hand inside to fetch, touch something strange, peep inside the bag and see the feature below. What will you do? This was the experience one female teacher of the Bumboazio (La’angum) school encountered one early morning in her usual duty  to serve the cooks with their usual daily food quantities to prepare school lunch. I wish you were there to see how the teacher and cooks took to their heels. The children without taking to verify as to what was happening also took off after having seen their teacher and cooks racing.   Fortunately some 2 male parents passing to Langbinsi came to the aid of the other male teachers to fight and kill this reptile. On one instance, Alice was in the store room alone when a snake entered through the door. You could hear her screaming even from 200 meters away. The school has a lot of these reptiles around the bushes and rocks. The parents do organize communal labour and clear round the school but the reptiles still remain in the holes under the rocks. Teachers and children are terrified, run and classes disrupted anytime they spot one. The teachers and children are worried and does not appreciate how we share our classrooms with these reptiles. This is indeed worrisome and your suggestions on how to control this classroom sharing is highly welcome

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.


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