End of Year Letter

November 28, 2018

Dear Friends,

Meeting this year’s unique and difficult challenges has been supremely satisfying to our PAMBE Ghana family. Our goal has been to provide stability for our 278 students to continue their job of learning, growing, and mastering the elementary curriculum.

Moyom (left) is in pre-K and started his studies this fall. He has every reason to think that he will start junior high in 2025. Jaliu (center), currently in grade 4, will graduate in 2021, and Hanna (right) is a 5th grader who will graduate 2020. Even when outside circumstances impose challenges, these children and their educations are always our priority. Your dollars work hard to give them this priceless gift. Please continue this support as you make your giving decisions this month.

Ushering in a smooth leadership transition at LLC was perhaps the year’s biggest and most visible accomplishment. Fortunately, our team identified a person with the unique blend of skills and experience to assume the school’s leadership role and that of liaison with the OKC-based board. Eric Gumah began his tenure this summer and will work alongside me this entire school year before taking over in September 2019. Eric has been closely involved with LLC in previous years as a Montessori trainer. The staff members know and respect him. This transition is momentous. Eric has begun a program of ongoing guidance, feedback, and continuing education to upper grade teachers in particular. Students are experiencing an enhanced selection and use of Montessori materials as their teachers grow in their own professional knowledge and skill base under Eric’s direction.

Another major change this year involves the addition of a pilot junior high program for 7th graders. The children who attended junior high in Langbinsi reported negative experiences, which motivated their parents and LLC staff to intervene and consider alternatives. After much discussion with parents and teachers, it was decided to begin a 7th grade class at LLC for the graduating 6th graders. Since this is a test, prospective graduates don’t know if they’ll follow LLC’s first two graduating classes in Langbinsi or if the current pilot program for 7th graders at LLC will be an option. We are exploring many possibilities, including whether an LLC-based partnership with the Ghana Education Service is feasible. This uncertainty is truly difficult, but our goal is to offer our students the best prospects.

As always, growth means increased expenses. Your support has opened the school doors to full classes of pre-K students for eleven years running. Your donations have helped expand LLC’s facility as more children make the daily walk from their home villages. Your gifts have helped populate their classrooms with learning tools: Montessori materials, early readers in their mother tongue of Mampruli, basics like pencils and papers, a solar powered computer lab, and a library that prepare these students for the future.

Because of your donations, the children’s teachers are trained and bring to their classrooms a high quality learning experience. Successes this year include the doubling our endowment fund, a major expansion that doubles the size of our computer lab, and completion of a building that we now use as a temporary junior high.

We are actively working to expand our revenue base, and have funded these and other projects with grants. However, what actually keeps this school in session, day after day, year after year, are gifts from supporters like you. Your donation will be matched by a grant from the Paul and Ann Milburn Fund of the Oklahoma City Community Foundation. Your gift will be doubled.

PAMBE Ghana’s numbers speak: 278 students in pre-K through grade 6, three classes of 6th grade graduates totaling 75 students. Each of these numbers is a child whose life we have touched, in a family whose life we have changed, in a community alongside which we work, even though we’re an ocean apart.

Please give this year, and if possible, consider increasing your gift generously. In this place, your money works hard and does great work.

On behalf of the children of La’Angum Learning Center,

Thank you.

Alice Iddi-Gubbels

Did you know?

PAMBE Ghana’s teachers presently earn less than those who serve at Ghanaian Education Service (“GES”) schools and La’Angum Learning Center risks losing Montessori trained teachers to the GES. Thanks to the generosity of the Liddell Foundation and Mother Huggers, PAMBE Ghana will begin to implement its long-time plan of responsibly raising teacher salaries. Please join Mother Huggers by making a tax deductible donation to support increased teacher compensation. Please see more at motherhuggers.us to see that organization’s good work done locally and internationally

Milburn Grant Funds Upgrades to LLC Computer Lab

REPORT ON UPGRADE ON SOLAR-POWER AND COMPUTER LAB EXPANSION

IN LA’ANGUM LEARNING CENTRE (LLC) IN BUMBOAZIO

 

Bumboazio is a non-electrified community a few kilometers from Langbinsi in the East Mamprusi District of northern Ghana. This community has a school that was been founded and is managed by PAMBE Ghana, a non-profit organization (NGO).

Jak Solar Technologies, a Solar Business entity based in Tamale, was contracted to expand and rehabilitate the existing solar system in the La’angum Learning Centre. The overall assignment was to

a.) re-design, upgrade, procure and install a 3.2kWp solar system of the school computer laboratory, library and Upper Elementary Block and,

b.) rehabilitate the existing DC system for the Lower Elementary Block.

EXISTING SYSTEM

This was made up of twelve 50-watt panels (600Watt peak) system designed to generate about 3,910KWh in a day, depending on the sun.

This typically was to run 10 laptop computers with a one-day autonomy since it is a school. It also included ten 9-watt bulbs in the computer lab as well as security lighting around the lab.

The school also had three separate 100-Watt DC (Direct Current) for lighting in the class rooms and outside for security.

THE NEW SYSTEM

RE-DESIGNING, UPGRADING, PROCURING AND INSTALLING A 3.2KWP SOLAR SYSTEM OF THE SCHOOL COMPUTER LABORATORY, LIBRARY AND UPPER ELEMENTARY BLOCK.

The new system is design to provide power for up to two projectors, 30 laptop computers, 30 AC (Alternating Current) lighting for the computer lab, library, security lights and for all the classrooms on the Upper Elementary Classroom Block.

Solar Power for the Computer Lab and Lighting

The system is made up of 20 pieces of 50watt peak (total 1kWp) panels and 8 pieces of 275watt peak (total 2.2kWp) of Solar panels. Total installed capacity is 3.2kWP (3200 kilo watt peak). The solar panels are mounted on the roof of the building, at the same tilt angle and orientation as the building facing south.

The 20 pieces of the 50watt peak (1kWp) is connected to a controller and six of the 275watt Peak (1.65kWp) is connected to the Growatt 3kva inverter charger Controller 1, and the remaining two (2) 275watt peak (0.55watt peak) is also connected to Controller 2 above.

This forms a 3.2kWp generator which can produce 19200Kwh of power a day considering maximum sunshine of 6 hours a day.

The Inverter

The battery bank is made up of four number 200ah deep cycle batteries connected in series to form a battery bank. This number of batteries was arrived at considering the fact that most of the load (about 90%) will be run during the day when the sun is still available.

The Battery Bank

The selected inverter is hybrid, Growatt 3kVA storage plus. This allows the client or customer to select which power source should be used first, in terms of Battery, Solar or Grid (where Grid is available).

The inverter is programmed for Solar panel/energy to supply power to the load is first priority, and if the energy from the solar is not sufficient to power all connected load, battery energy will supply power to the load at the same time with the solar panels.

Loads

The expected load to connect to the system is 14920wh in a day. Table above are details of the load.

Operations and Maintenance

In comparison with other types of electrical power plants, PV plants require less maintenance. 

The inverters are the most critical components and they tend to be the cause of most major outages in a PV plant. However, inverter technology has improved significantly over the past few years and typical failures, if they occur, often happen during commissioning or very early in the life of the plant and are thus within the warranty period.

Besides scheduled maintenance for inverters, the other activities include periodic washing of the modules and unscheduled maintenance activities, which require minimal staffing.

There are no emissions associated with solar PV systems during operations.

REHABILITATING THE EXISTING DC SYSTEM FOR THE LOWER ELEMENTARY BLOCK

Eight pieces of 255-watt solar PV panels and eight additional 50-watt solar PV panels were procured and added to the existing twelve 50-watt panels. The new system produces about 1,840Wh a day, depending on the availability of the SUN.

  1. The AC System

Each classroom is provided with a socket outlet (15 points in all) to enable the use of a laptop in the classrooms.

  1. The DC System

The three separate 100-Watt solar panels were brought together to supply 20 DC (Direct Current) lighting points for the Lower Elementary Classroom Block.

CONCLUSION

The system was successfully installed and Is performing within expectations.

As time goes by, Jak Solar Tech is willing to assist with further studies and analysis of the system.

Please find below the resizing reports for the School PV system

 

COMPUTERS AND OTHER EQUIPMENT

We acquired 20 new laptop computers (HP), 20 computer mouses and one complete desktop computer to be used mainly as a teaching aid. I did some research on laptops versus desktops for a computer laboratory, given that the GES ICT curriculum and assessments are based on the desktop. Power consumption was the deciding factor.  A desktop needs 2-3 times the amount needed for a laptop! They also need to be plugged in at all times in order to work. Laptop computers are obviously, more suitable for our solar-powered computer lab.

We now have 26 laptop computers and one desktop in the computer lab. We will donate one of the Toshiba laptops to Unity JHS. With this number of computers, the whole class of 35-40 students can be together for a lesson! 

We also purchased two important pieces of equipment; a Canon photocopier/printer with 4 toners, and an Optiva HIFI Speaker System, with two microphones. 

The photocopier/printer, though much more costly than a printer, it is much more economical for printing and photocopying in the long run. It is easy to operate and requires very little maintenance, and toners are much cheaper than cartridges for photocopying.

Thus, it is more suited for heavy-duty copying in school. 

The only downside is that it only makes black and white copies. Luckily, we have a 3-in-all printer for color printing, scanning and copying, if need be.

Optiva HIFI Speaker System is a Public Address System (PAS) we have needed for a long time in the school. Over the years, we have had to hire an often ineffective one from the community for events in the school. Our new PAS arrived in time to be baptized on our Independence Day celebration on March 6th, 2019!

Additionally, we got 20 chairs for our well-deserving teachers instead of a new projector and screen to replace our very old projector.  

 

We are very grateful for the support we continue to receive from the Milburns Charitable Fund at the Oklahoma City Community Foundation.  Thank you!

Prepared by

Alice Azumi Iddi-Gubbels

PAMBE Ghana receives a grant from the Paul Milburn Fund of the Oklahoma City Community Foundation

With the help of Paul and Ann Milburn and others over the years, PAMBE Ghana has recruited and trained a dedicated teaching staff now skilled in child-centered learning methods.  A solar-powered computer lab and a lending library made possible through donations from Canadian and Oklahoma City Rotary Clubs and MotherHuggers add to the rich educational environment of La’Angum Learning Centre students.

A new $30,000 grant from the Paul Milburn Fund of the OCCF will enable PAMBE Ghana to continue to build excellence in academic programs in all grade levels. The generous grant will fund: (1) additional teacher training by Program Director Eric Gumah, who received his education in Montessori methods at the primary and elementary levels in Germany and the United States; (2) library materials and librarian training; and (3) a computer program upgrade including laptops, printers, solar power array and IT staff training. With outstanding teachers, an inviting library and opportunities to learn computer technology, we anticipate that the graduates of La’Angum Learning Centre will have bright futures and ultimately make a difference in their Northern Ghanaian community!

Mother Huggers Puts the ‘Fun’ in Fundraising

Membership based non-profit Mother Huggers headed by Beth Jansen granted PAMBE Ghana $20,000 to support increased teacher compensation at La’Angum Learning Center. Mother Huggers obtained a $5,000 grant from the Liddell Foundation based in Norman, Oklahoma, then named PAMBE Ghana the international recipient of Mother Huggers’ fabulously fun annual bowling  fundraiser, which generated another $15,000 for the Ghana school. The bowling event also raised funds for local non-profits primarily through team registrations, a silent auction and individual contributions. PAMBE Ghana’s Board and volunteers joined the fun with several teams. 

 

A Teacher's Perspective

Dear Friends of PAMBE Ghana,

As 2017 draws to a close, I thought you might like to read the words of one of the teachers you are supporting at La'angum Learning Center. The teachers tell me that we are not just supporting "a school in Northern Ghana," but an exceptional place where every child is helped to grow to their fullest potential, no matter what their background. It is not only a school for children, but a learning experience for the staff and school community. Thank you for making this possible. 

Tom Temple
PAMBE Ghana Board President

 

MAJEED SALIFU is my name. I was born on 1st January 1986 in Gambaga. Salifu is my father and Amina is my mother. 

I had my elementary education in a public school by name Zobzia primary school in Gambaga, East Mamprusi District in northern Ghana.  I attended Gambaga Junior High School in 2000. In 2003, I had admission into Nalerigu Senior High School. I completed my secondary school in 2006. Between 2006 and 2007, hunting and traditional herbal medicine was what I engaged in. In 2008, I was employed as a teacher assistant through the National Youth Employment Program. As a teacher assistant, I was receiving an allowance at the end of the month. Though it was not regular, I decided to further my education. I had admission into the University of Cape Coast continuing education program for a three year Diploma in Basic Education.

As the saying goes, many are called but few are chosen. With prayers, hard work and mercy from God, I was able to graduate with a few colleagues in 2013. Before graduating, I attended an interview organized by my current employer (PAMBE GHANA). I was lucky to be selected (based on qualification). I was appointed as a classroom teacher, and I have been a classroom teacher in La'angum Learning Centre (L.L.C.) since 2012.

Compared to the experience I had in my public school days, my presence in L.L.C. has enlightened me more on what teaching really is. Honestly, in those days as a teacher assistant what I needed to do was to make sure that pupils filled their books with notes. With this, an inquisitive parent would think that the teacher had taught his child well. When I delivered lessons, even if only a few understood the lesson, I would go ahead to deliver the next lesson, not at all concerned with those who did not understand the first lesson.

Thanks to God who brought me here to L.L.C, because before I deliver a lesson, I will consider the age, interest, and cognitive development of the group of pupils I am going to present the lesson to. It is here in L.L.C. that I have learned that children can be in the same class but receive different lessons. Before I deliver a lesson, I have to plan considering the objectives of the lesson, putting the child in the center. After delivering a lesson, I observe those pupils who have not understood and plan another lesson for them. I have also learned that children need to be respected just like we adults.

Even though my colleagues in public schools receive more salary than I do, I personally think that salary must be earned irrespective of the amount one receives. Being part of or contributing to shaping a child's future is what is paramount. It is often said that a good name is worth more than silver and gold. It is in the light of these and others not listed that keep me working in L.L.C.

I am happily married to Isma Mahama, and Muslim Sahawabgu Majeed is our three months old son.

Majeed Salifu

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.

A New School Year for 276 Students at La’Angum Learning Center

The new school year has started. Just imagine: each morning 276 girls and boys walk the paths that lead from their various home villages to La’Angum Learning Center. The 36 youngest, pre-kindergarteners, who are attending school for the very first time, will soon become familiar with their routes, the routines, the process of learning how to read and write, do sums, think critically and master the official language of English. They’ll see the sixth graders, the 29 children who will graduate from LLC next summer after completing their eighth and final year of primary education: bookends to the story of individual opportunity. Education opens doors. A new school year begins.

FAST FACTS:

Grade levels: 8 (pre-K through grade 6)
Total boys: 145
Total girls: 130
Average class size: 35
Total teaching staff: 16

 

La’Angum Learning Center Graduates Second Class

We are so proud to announce that 31 students graduated from the 6th grade at La’Angum Learning Center this summer! The 15 girls and 16 boys started as pre-schoolers and successfully completed the course of study for the elementary grades. These young people are academically prepared to move on to junior high school, which includes the ability to read and write in the official state language of English. They have joined our first graduating class at Unity Junior High School.

Hakeem Bukari (l.) and Akosua Pudimniba, students in the 2017 graduating class.

LLC Graduates, Class of 2017:

Girls: Abibatu Yakubu, Agnes Nabila, Akosua Pudimniba, Amuda Kadiri, Ayisha Abdulai, Dorcas Sule, Essie N. Nanzobila, Esther Kuntoba, Fuseina Abdul-Rahaman, Lashakatu Issah, Latifa Mohammed, Lydia Alhassan, Mmalebna Tindanzo, Sawkiya Mohammed, Suzana Zuuri

Boys: Abdul-Malik Issahaku, Barikyi Tohiru, Bassit Yahaya, Ezikiel Do’adow, Fataw  Mahama, Fataw Issifu, Ganiu Musah, Hakim Bukari, Hasamiu Iddi, Huzedu Fusheini, Illiasu Issifu, Kabiru Musah, Kawilu Dahamani, Rafiu Abdul-Razak, Wadudu Sumani, Warisu Mahamadu

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.”

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).

6-bricktown-rotary1

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.

6-rotary-books

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.

6-bookshelves
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.

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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