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

2016 Year End Letter

Dear Friends,

year-end16-1Wow – look what you’ve done! Together, we have had the courage to create a school that now serves 266 students. We have 25 graduates attending junior high (right). We’ve never had a student drop out. We are building a library. We have outfitted a solar-powered computer lab in a locale without electricity. We teach children how to read and write English. We have dealt with surprises and crises with honesty and hard work. What a feat. And what a responsibility!

year-end16-2Eight years ago, Yaapoa Miba (left) was a timid little girl in the village of Bumboazio, Ghana with no prospect of getting an education. There was no school nearby for her to walk to. Her parents, themselves non literate, could not afford to send her away to a distant school. Today, Yaapoa (below) has completed her elementary education at La’Angum Learning Center. She is now a young student in seventh grade, with many dreams of a brighter future.

You made it possible for Yaapoa and 24 of her mates to complete their elementary education successfully and to embark on the next phase of their education journeys, stepping into junior high confidently. Your continued support has given Yaapoa and many other children in this rural community in northern Ghana the audacity to dream of a better future not only for themselves but also their families and their community.

year-end16-3This last year has brought challenges that we never envisioned. Yet we had unwavering support from you, our caring friends, who generously stepped in with emergency funding. Thus, our water crisis is over. The big tanks no longer leak, we have some temporary supplementary containers, and the school can continue to function. Is this enough? Unfortunately, no. We still need significantly more water storage capacity. It is part of our infrastructure that has not yet kept pace with the growth of the student body.

Similarly, the computer lab is a wonderful asset, but its six computers are not nearly enough for all 266 students. Your previous gifts built the lab building, which will comfortably house more computer stations. But our solar electricity generation is at capacity. To add more computers will also require additional solar panels and battery storage. The payoff? A much richer experience for each student in this important, and necessary technology.

Another crisis from the past year has yielded a new line item in our budget: screening all incoming students for Hepatitis B. This wasn’t in our first year-end16-4budget, eight years ago. But when we discovered this destructive illness in some of our students, we were confident that you would help us with the immediate problem, and you did. Through your special gifts, we screened and vaccinated every student and teacher. And we treated those who were infected. And we’ll continue each year, screening all incoming students. For some, this will be life saving.

This next year will be an important time to focus on what happens inside the classrooms, developing, strengthening, and enriching the quality of our students’ learning experience. Because a school is far more than a building. This work will involve individual teacher coaching, formal training with curricula and materials, demonstrations and workshops. We will continue to pursue and refine assessments and comparisons of our student outcomes for grades 3 and 6. We’ll also continue to follow the progress of our graduates to ascertain how LLC can best prepare students for success in junior high.

Most of these items are contained within our annual operating budget – they’re what we do. While they’re not flashy, they are crucial. Your continued support today for these bread and butter items enables us to deliver what we have pledged to our students. Long term, through our endowment fund, we aim to create a reliable source of income that will sustain the school’s normal operations. This will take years to build, but we’ve already started that important work, and we welcome your participation.

La’Angum Learning Center became a reality because of your generous spirit. It has grown because you continued to care about the children and their futures. You expected your dollars to work hard, and they have yielded so much more than anyone originally expected, because your gifts impact more than the students – they help families and communities grow stronger together.

We say at La’Angum Learning Center, “Sirinsaa yani, la’angum ka toom,” which means, “Many hands make light work.” We welcome you to join our work - together we will make another year come true for today’s 266 students. Reach your helping hands across the Atlantic to ensure a sustainable future for those students who come next. By your caring gifts, we bring to life our hopes and dreams for the future.

I speak for our children, now and in the future,

Thank you.

Alice Azumi Iddi-Gubbels
Executive Director, PAMBE Ghana

We greatly appreciate the support of our PAMBE Ghana donors and friends!

This group is volunteer driven, so your feedback is always appreciated to ensure we are doing our best for the students in Ghana. We hope you had a chance to review the end-of-year giving letter in December. We hope you felt as inspired to give as our friend, Frank. We love hearing from you!

"Please pass along to Alice how much the PAMBE Ghana annual appeal letter impressed me. No pics of the executive director receiving an OKC Citizen of the Year Award or shaking hands with local politicians, or of board members with a proverbial shoulder to the wheel; no emotional "poor us" language and no sleep-inducing budget report. 

Just straightforward, matter of fact details based on what needs previous contributions have helped meet in the past and what needs additional contributions will meet in the future. Good stuff. Alice's letter stood out. Well done! Carol and I didn't hesitate to double the small donation we intended to make. (The little bio on the young lady who had just completed seventh grade didn't hurt either.)"

Plans for the 2016-17 year

10-goalsLa’Angum Learning Center began the 2016-17 school year in September. Executive Director Alice Iddi-Gubbels provided a list of what she hoped to accomplish between now and July.

  1. Continued teacher training and support in Montessori education: Two 3-day workshops with Mr Eric Gumah from Bawku, Ghana.
  2. Continued support for two teachers to complete their North American Montessori Center/Faith Montessori Diploma course.
  3. Initiate a lending library for students.
  4. Follow up and support with our graduates who are junior high school students at Unity Junior High School in Langbinsi.
  5. Outcomes assessment for grades 3 & 6.
  6. Hepatitis B screening, followed by vaccination and treatment of infected students. This is a very important health project to continue with our new Pre-k and transfer students. This includes administering booster shots a year after the initial inoculation, to provide for a 10-year protection.
  7. Continue to raise funds for expanded water resources and improved sanitation.
  8. Complete Montessori demonstration classroom. This will be an important practical support for teachers and students alike.
  9. Leadership development plans.
  10. Increasing friend and fund raising, in Ghana.

Plans for PAMBE Ghana’s 2016-17 year in OKC include:

  1. Continue to provide funding and support for LLC, its facilities, operations, students and teachers.
  2. Diversify and expand funding sources by focusing on grants, donor development and friend raising opportunities.
  3. Help populate LLC’s new lending library with donated books.
  4. Expand and refine social media presence.
  5. Expand Global Market hours. This year it will remain open until 7:00 pm on Thursdays. The Global Market will open November 3 and close December 24.


Our New Water Well is a Success!

water-well1Our bore hole has passed the pumping test in time when the world celebrates Water Day on Sun. March 22! We had been waiting for this day with much anxiety because the outcome of the pumping test would determine the fate of our bore hole.

The team arrived this morning around 10:00 a.m. and set up their testing equipment including a submersible pump and a diesel powered generator. The water had risen to 41 meters and thus boosted our hope for a good producing well. As word went round about the pumping of water, students ran out with gallons and other containers they had used to bring water to school. We all watched with excitement and some uneasiness as the water flowed out slowly. I later learned that the technician intentionally regulated the flow so it is constant to aid their observations and recording.

The pumping went on for two and half hours, non-stop. The children gradually filled their containers and took them to their classrooms. Every container, big and small got filled up. The water was clear and tasted okay. The technician assured us it was safe to drink it. The team took a sample to do the quality test in Tamale.

water-well2Then the team proceeded with the even more telling test: the recovery or recharge rate. How quickly does the well replenish itself? After an hour and half the technician declared the recovery rate to poor. However, he recommended going ahead to develop the well, given that it is the best bore hole we would have for LA'ANGUM. With a bottle of water he demonstrated how the water indicator (like a tape measure), which beeps when it comes in contact with water, was used to determine the recovery rate of our bore hole. "The recovery rate is low. But half a loaf is better than none," the technician reminded us of this old adage. The technician did not think our bore hole is a good candidate for mechanization. He advised the installation of a hand pump instead.

La’Angum Learning Center

Recognized by Oklahoma A+ Schools and local independent schools Oklahoma A+ Schools has announced that the La’Angum Learning Center in Northern Ghana has been awarded the status of an Associate School for 2013-2014. Established by Oklahoma City non-profit organization PAMBE Ghana in 2008, the La’Angum Learning Center provides culturally rich, bilingual early childhood education to underserved children in northern Ghana. Located in the East Mamprusi District, an extremely impoverished area, the La’Angum Learning Center currently educates 131 students in preschool through second grade, and proudly owns a zero percent dropout rate over its 5-year existence. With financial support by PAMBE Ghana, Rotary International clubs in Canada and Ghana, and individual donors, and with the on-the-ground collaboration of local Ghanaian volunteers, construction on three new classrooms and a rainwater harvesting system was begun in Spring 2013 to support expansion of grades 3-6. Children and faculty of local Oklahoma City schools have also offered strong support to PAMBE Ghana and the La’Angum Learning Center. Most recently the beneficiary of proceeds of the Heritage Hall 1st grade art show, PAMBE Ghana will also be honored by Westminster School on May 22, as one of three non-profit recipients of funds raised by the 5th grade class in its read-a-thon. For more information about PAMBE Ghana, or the La’Angum Learning Center, please contact us at PAMBEghana@gmail.com.

Classroom Construction

The Classroom building project is on course. We have about 3000 cement blocks, 200 bags of cement, trucked in by tractor and my pick up. The teachers offloaded all these bags! (1 bag is 50kg and cost GHS22). We also have iron rods, nails and other accessories for the pillars and lintel. Workmanship for the masonry work to roofing level will cost GHS3,000, excluding the community’s contribution in labour, water supply and stone chippings.

Cement molders have just finished the last batch of blocks. The molders are paid GHS 0.20 per block.

The community chose last week, Saturday, to begin work on the site. Parents gathered in the school; the mason and his assistant demarcated and they dug the foundation. They came back last Thursday to break stones into small pieces for the foundation. With the appeal and encouragement from teacher Shani, La’angum school children brought water to school yesterday (Saturday) to fill a container for the building. Saturdays and Wednesdays are believed to be good days to begin a good project, because it is believed that things that happen on these days are very likely to reoccur. We don’t have enough stone chippings, but the community leaders have maintained that they will get more broken for laying the foundation. Next, rendez-vous is coming Wednesday, to lay the concrete foundation!

Click here to read more and view photos.

Programme Progress June 2010

2010 Programme Update1 (Download Word DOC file)

Whoever touches the life of a child touches the most sensitive point of a whole, which has roots in the most distant past and climbs toward the infinite future. ~ Maria Montessori

The year 2010 is already half gone and PAMBE Ghana is moving forward with its agenda for developing a model of quality education. The 2009/2010 academic year began on September 15, 2009 and will end July 29th. It is a delight to observe the changes in the children, their curiosity and interest in life around them and their smiling faces.

Lydia Alhassan is a kindergarten year student. She is one of the best examples of what PAMBE Ghana’s education program is about. Lydia from Bantambaari, was probably the saddest looking face of the 40 students who started school with us in the fall of 2008. She cried most with the least provocation and constantly sought teacher’s attention. Now she is exuberant, independent-minded and enjoys working alone or with friends.  She is pleasant to be with and her peers as well as the younger ones love to play with her. Not only has Lydia and other students made remarkable advances emotionally and socially, they have also made tremendous progress academically. That is what we are striving for at these early years of school life; to make school and learning enjoyable.  It is a privilege to be part of the making of these children’s futures. It is gratifying! Nutrition, Health and Sanitation Our children are growing and so are their daily nutritional requirements and appetites. We continue to serve a relatively nutritious lunch each day, which includes some dried fish, peanut or beans mixed with a cereal or root crop and a fruit when in season.  We enjoy watermelon between Nov and Feb and mangoes between March and May. May –June is the sheanut (wild fruit) season. Lunch costs about $1.00 per child/day for our current 60 children. Parents contribute food grains i.e. corn, millet, beans, peanut and soyabeans, as well as community volunteer cooks while PAMBE Ghana provides all ingredients for the sauce and other food stuffs like yam, rice and gari (roasted cassava grits), and fruit when in season. Thus, PAMBE Ghana contributes 60% to the lunch. We are developing good relationships with the district health directorate and public health personnel in the district to provide regular check ups and prompt treatment of worm and other infestations. Washing hands with soap after visiting the toilet and before eating are now established practices.  Disinfectants and soap for hand-washing, dish washing and general cleaning are important consumables that add up to approximately $1.00 /month/child.  Although a luxury in the local context, we consider hygiene and sanitation as an integral part of quality education. Mampruli language (L1) and literacy development. PAMBE Ghana is forging ahead with Mampruli language and literacy development. Our deep appreciation goes to the Bricktown Rotary Club for providing funding for developing and publishing four beginning readers in the Mampruli language. This project has offered PAMBE Ghana staff, especially the Executive Director and Assistant opportunity to learn, adapt and create materials in Mampruli. In close collaboration with two GILLBT resource persons (Ghana Institute of Linguistics, Literacy and Bible Translations) offices in Walewale and Tamale we have blended the ED’s Montessori experience, EA’s public schools teaching experience (GES)  and resources persons’ Mampruli language and literacy expertise to custom-make basic readers for kindergarten and lower primary students. The first set of booklet 1 & 2 have been type-set, edited and ready for publishing. Booklets 3-6 are being edited now.  We expect to finalise these too for printing by the end of the month. We will produce 100 copies each of this first set of beginning readers. Teacher Education and Professional Devt The ED and EA held a 10-day in-service training for the teachers in Langbinsi. We focused attention on Montessori and Piaget’s education theories and their application in our classroom.  Much time was devoted on discussing concrete situations the teachers have encountered in the classroom. The Executive Assistant helped teachers understand how continuous assessment and cumulative records are compiled at the public school system. Teachers then spent two days in the communities and collected basic information about all the children and their families. The teachers are very keen to acquire basic computer skills. Thus, the EA introduced them to computer basics. They were thrilled to be able to create their own email addresses. Now they need the equipment (computers) so they can practice, practice and practice. We continue to provide mentoring and support in class and after classes. The ED contacted a Montessori Teacher training centre in Accra (Little Explorers) that offers courses. However, apart from the high cost of $1500 fees per person, the course is given once or twice a week over a period of time. Thus one has to be resident in Accra. We do the best we can to continue to learn and apply Montessori in and outside the classroom. Performance appraisal The ED had individual and group discussions with the PAMBE Ghana staff. Two of the teachers started last September and a 3rd in Dec to replace the late Issah.  All were confirmed in their teaching positions. The end of Mary’s two-year contract was drawing near and the EA was has just celebrated his first anniversary with PAMBE Ghana. These offered an opportunity to discuss staff members’ self assessment of their performance and professional development needs. Mary has just signed another two-year contract to work with PAMBE Ghana. Infrastructure We started the school year with 20 new students, with no space to accommodate them. We tried different options, including running shift but parents opposed it and teachers were not keen either. We put the 20 pre-k and 40 kindergarten children together in the one classroom but it was too congested. The option that held until now required rearranging existing space in a way that our little ones have a place of their own. Thus, •    the little office, already cramped with large containers for water and utensils, served as a store for foodstuffs for the school feeding program as well; •    materials and furniture were moved to a corner of the one (kindergarten) classroom We put a few shelves in the original storeroom and turned it into a classroom. With the pavilion as backup, we have been able to offer our new little friends reasonable accommodation. PAMBE Ghana-funded classroom is at roofing level. The Milburn’s challenge grant of $3,000.00 helped mobilise another $5,000 to cover the total cost of $8,000, including security doors and windows. The big news is that the East Mamprusi District Assembly is providing a 3-classroom block and office/store as well as toilet and urinary facilities. The building has begun and is also at the roofing level. We expect most of the new infrastructure to be completed by September. Thus, we will be floating in space when the new school year begins, inch’Alla! Water is Life Another critical project underway is rain water harvesting and storage system. Two huge underground concrete tanks (5m diameter) are being constructed by a local rural water supply organisation at a total cost of $6000. We expect the concrete tanks, with all the pipes, filters and hand pumps will be installed and operational by mid-July. This will allow enough time to harvest and store sufficient water during this rainy season, which should last till October. Most of the funding for this water project has come from proceeds from the Global Market.  Let us put our hands together and give a huge “Global” applause for all who have volunteered their time, talents and lots of energy to make the Global Market a successful fund raising venture. Your efforts have made it possible to undertake this very important project. The benefits of having water at the school are incalculable and go far beyond the school. Good hygiene and sanitation practices and, indeed the health and wellbeing of the children at school depend critically on availability of water. It is also important to note the positive impact this water project will have on mothers whose responsibility it has been to provide all the water every day over the past two years. Thank you! Solar Energy We are poised to be among the first beneficiaries of the Ghana Govt / World Bank solar energy project which targets rural communities and schools whose chances for getting onto the national electricity grid are slim. Given the high cost of solar energy, the govt is providing 60% subsidy for different solar energy products and a loan facility through the bank to legible communities as well.  The East Mamprusi Community Bank is the implementing agency in our district, with which we have an excellent working relationship. We are therefore confident that application from La’angum and its community would be considered with favour when the project takes off. If it comes to pass, our first priority would be to acquire solar panels to provide sufficient energy to pump our rain-harvested water from the underground tank as well as lights and two computers.  We could even have fans in the classroom, a big huge luxury. It is a govt project and it takes time for the bureaucracy to move. So we do not know when it will actually become operational. Friend and Fundraising We continue to seek and make new friends as we strengthen relationships with the old over the past six months. In our search here and there for a solution to the perennial water problem we made contact with Rotary Club of Tamale Ghana, WellDone / Pioneers Africa and Pumping is Life. Many volunteers and supporters have worked extremely hard to generate an encouraging balance sheet from our different fund raising initiatives. Developing a model of quality education accessible to underserved rural communities in Northern Ghana is a challenging undertaking. It requires a robust commitment and continued support in order to showcase a model worth emulating. Furthermore, as an education facility, growth and expansion is inherent in the PAMBE Ghana’s programme, and so do its needs and requirements. That is why, even as I express my deepest gratitude for your support this far, I am also asking you to pledge your continued commitment and support, and to embrace PAMBE Ghana’s programme even more firmly. Thank you very much.  Ti puusiya pam Executive Director Alice Azumi Iddi-Gubbels

Executive Assistant position filled

PAMBE Ghana has recruited Mr. Baba Bukari as our new Executive Assistant. He is taking responsibilityfor supporting the Executive Director in the areas of accounting and financial management, administration, logistical and coordination support, information systems management, internal and external communications. Baba's start date was June 15, and already he is showing himself to be a valuable member of the PAMBE Ghana team. More about Baba's background will be posted shortly.

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.