We Built A Playground!

Today, December 5th, is International Volunteer Day, “designated by the United Nations in 1985. It offers an opportunity for volunteer organizations and individual volunteers to make visible their contributions – at local, national and international levels – to the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).”(Wikipedia, 2013) International Volunteer Day 2013 (IVD 2013) is a global celebration of young people acting as the agents of change in their communities.

This post is about some young (and not so young) people who gave time, resources and money to create some small change in Madina, Ghana.

BUILDING A PLAYGROUND IN THE NKWANTANANG SCHOOL, MADINA

It started with an idea from the GhanaThink foundation, based on some simple questions – “With everything we know about Kwame Nkrumah, what sort of commemoration would he prefer for his birthday? Parades, long boring speeches and a big party?… Or activities to improve Ghana?” The answer was a no-brainer… And that is how we made September 21st National Volunteer Day. People were encouraged to organise or join volunteer activities around the country. Social media was the main tool we used, and we got results!

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My volunteer activity was about doing something WITH and FOR the people in a community. I thought of building a toilet at first, but that was too complicated for the short period of time I had to put it together (about 2 weeks), so after some thinking, I came up with the idea for a playground using low cost renewable and recycled material.

Disclaimer: It was also for my personal research in social architecture. I’ll share my exciting preliminary findings in another blog post… Later.

So I went to the site [which is in the school where my mother works] with the awesome Kwabena Akuamoah Boateng to get some pictures, take measurements, and make a short video. Then I put up this blog post with a call for volunteers and an appeal for funds.  GhC 1130 was raised, with donations from Nana Aba Anamoah, Augustine Owusu-Ansah, Charles Lawson, Jude Nyoagbe, Andy Aryeetey, Kwabena Akuamoah Boateng, Daniel Asante, Abban Budu, and Kwabena Opoku Agyeman.. Thank you so much guys!

I also got paint donations from Michael Oti Adjei , from Azar Paint (through Ariel of GhanaThink), used car tyres from dealers in the community and food items from the teachers of Nkwantanang school, Abena Benewaa Boampong, Abban Budu, Annabella Boadi Misa, Ekow Atta Aidoo, and Jeanne Clark.

In the design and construction team were myself, Jude Nyyoagbe, Emmanuel Ofori-Sarpong and Edem Tamakloe.

With GhC 1280, and the help of students from Nkwantanang, the Assemblyman of the area, Emmanuel Ofori Sarpong, and my mother I bought bamboo, plants, soil, mats, cement, sandcrete blocks, wooden pallets, sand, stones, water, tools, paint, and food..etc. I also transported used car tyres and other materials to the site and even got extra as tips for some of the especially hardworking students.

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And finally…

HONOUR ROLL [List of Volunteers]

Theophilus Mensah

Osei Daniel Sarfo

Akua Akyaa Nkrumah

Benewaa Boampong

Emmanuel Sarpong

Naa Sarku

Domenyo Galley and his crew

Lois Andah

Jude Nyoagbe

Vanessa Sarpong

Laquaye Nartey

Carl Glover Tay

Annabella Boadi Misa

Courage Tetteh

Adjoa Bonney

Michael Akuamoah Boateng

Augustine Owusu Ansah

Kwabena Akuamoah Boateng

Ekow Atta-Aidoo

Bash Futa

Laurie Frempong

Jeanne Clark and family

Charles Lawson

Kinna Likimani and Kobby

Rahim Muniru

Abban Budu

GALLERY

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Site for Playground

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Initial Design Sketch

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Beginnings!

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Finished!

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Accra is killing me!

I moved back to Accra some months after spending almost all of my life as an adult in Kumasi.

It is good to be finally able to go to all these events that never get organized in Kumasi. It is good to meet and ‘re-meet a lot of people. It is nice to be able to go to Ci Gusta anytime I have a craving for frozen yoghurt. It is nice to be able to buy a jam doughnut or a muffin every morning before work. It is nice in Accra, and there are many great things happening here, but Accra is killing me!

I don’t know why, but it seems to me that most of the people who have given up on Ghana live here, and I keep meeting them or overhearing their conversations. It’s everywhere on radio (except with Bernard on Citi fm), and I’m getting exhausted with my efforts to stay positive. I am sick of hearing things like “Ghana dier”, “This country is so messed up” etc. Now I’m not saying it’s not messed up, I’m saying I’m tired of hearing it everywhere. Perhaps it’s because there are more borgas here. I understand that it’s difficult to move from Aburokyire (where everything works well) to Ghana (where nothing works well), but the negativity hurts me. Accra is killing me.

I also think it’s because I live in Ashalley Botwe and I go to and through Madina Market a lot. That place is pretty depressing – the smell, the filth, the heat… I used to live in a green patch around KNUST in Kumasi and the switch… from walking to work through an alley with a profusion of flowering plants and fruit trees and berries to jumping over rubbish heaps, dodging sellers that grab your hand (as if that will make you buy their wares)… is horrible! Accra is killing me.

Again about radio, I used to listen to Ultimate Radio and Luv Fm in Kumasi. Ultimate Radio has (had?) a fantastic morning show that focussed on things happening in Kumasi especially positive stories. Luv would transmit Joy Fm’s super morning show for a while and then switch to other things, so I guess I wasn’t hearing as much bad government corruption news as I am now. And with many of the twi language radio stations, they did give bad news, but they made it so funny that it was difficult to actually get angry about it. Here, there’s so much anger, which I understand, but Accra is killing me.

I hear Christmas in Accra is great. People are so drunk and happy from all the weddings and parties that they forget to complain. Unfortunately, I probably won’t experience this wonderful change, because I’ve made holiday plans to be AWAY from Accra, because you know, Accra is killing me!

I miss Kumasi, and as Sarkodie said in his Versace cover, someone please give me money so I can go back to my Kumasi. Last week I had a Barcamp meeting and I didn’t want to leave because I had missed “drinking” positive energy. When’s the next TEDx?