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.

Suzanne Parker’s Commitment Benefits the Children of L’Angum Learning Center

3-suzanne-parkerSuzanne Parker has been a loyal PAMBE Ghana volunteer for many years. She brings knowledge of Africa and years of teaching experience to the organization. As a young child she loved school and read about Africa, dreaming to go there one day.  Her dreams came true!

Suzanne and husband Bill (PAMBE Ghana board member) lived in the Ivory Coast, where she taught at the International School.

After 42 years of teaching Suzanne retired.  She increased her time helping at the PAMBE Ghana Global Market and recently organized a group of volunteers to select and catalog nearly 2000 books to be shipped to La’Angum Learning Center.

I met with Suzanne and asked about her background and history with PAMBE Ghana.

When did you become involved with  PAMBE Ghana?

I met Alice when she came to  Westminster School to apply for a teaching position in the French Department.  The director of the lower school, Cathy Waldo, interviewed Alice and introduced her to me.  Cathy knew that Alice and I had something in common; I had been in West Africa and spoke French. I was on a break at the time, so we spent some time together and got to know each other.

Cathy and I were impressed by Alice and agreed that we needed to find a place for her at the school.  Although Alice didn’t get the teaching position,  Cathy offered her a job as a second grade assistant.

Because of our background working together at Westminster,  Alice invited me to an early group meeting at her house. We all spent the time brainstorming about her dream to open a school in northern Ghana.

 

It seems that  Alice’s work at Westminster School strongly influenced  her dream of starting a school.

It became obvious immediately that Alice had a talent with children, although she hadn’t worked with young children. She had planned a school for older children, but I suggested that she start with young children and see how it worked out.

As she worked with the second graders, she began to see how starting with young children would be the best, particularly when teaching a second language.

What is your teaching background?

After obtaining my degrees, I taught for 42 years all over the world, including Paris and Abidjan, Ivory Coast. In Abidjan, I taught at the International School. I always taught the young children; they are so fun! When I taught,  I tried to implement the Montessori philosophy in every class.

What took you to these exotic places?

My husband, Bill, worked for a non-governmental organization,  the Institute for Cultural Affairs. His job took us many places.

How have you been involved with PAMBE Ghana over the years?

My volunteer activities have been primarily with the Global Market, working at the store or helping with ordering of products.  After I retired,  I had more time to devote to volunteer work and the store.  I try to work in the store at least 2 times a week during the season and help with other things when needed.  Lately,  I have been working on PAMBE Ghana’s book project.

And, when Alice comes back to OKC we sit and talk, teacher- to- teacher, about what education should look like in Africa. We talk about how you can teach the Montessori method using things that can be found in Africa.

How do you feel about the success of La’Angum Learning Center?

I feel proud and amazed, but sad that I can’t be there.

Have you thought about visiting?

I visited Ghana several times when we lived in the Ivory Coast. However, traveling is harder and harder these days.  We did things when we lived there that we couldn’t do today!

What do you remember about Ghana?

The people were so lovely in Ghana and the Ivory Coast, as well. I assumed that the people would be speaking in English in Ghana, but quickly found out that Ghana has many tribal languages.

Thank  you, Suzanne, for your service to PAMBE Ghana over the past ten years!

We value your ideas, expertise and commitment, which contributes to the success of La’Angum Learning Center.

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.

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.


         Instagram