Yaounde, the city

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As an architect, the city of Yaounde like Accra, stirs up feelings of disappointment anytime I really look at it. The feelings are more intense in Yaounde because the topography is beautiful – even breathtaking at some points. Yaounde is hilly in the purest sense of that world. It’s not the harsh, unfriendly kind of hilly, no it’s gentle slopey, rolling familiar-looking green hills mixed with enough steep inclines to make jogging rewarding, and cycling exhilarating (cycling downhill, at least).

The planning (or lack thereof) is sad and sometimes upsetting. Especially when one spots a perfect hill that could have had the buildings upon it as adorning jewels and not unfortunate occurrences. It’s disappointing because I came to Cameroon expecting to see examples of that inherent grace and appreciation for beauty that seems to run in francophone cultures.

Don’t get me wrong, there are beautiful buildings – several in fact, but the overall composition isn’t usually picturesque.

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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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