Thursday, October 04, 2007


Definitely, definitely, this was the HIGHLIGHT of our journey!! What a day!

First, we must acknowledge the heroic efforts of so many workmen and women who put in so much effort to get the building ready for the dedication. We especially honor and appreciate the dedication and energy of Patrick K, the WHH Logistics Specialist, who has overseen the work, purchased most of the materials, spent his day on the building site and even sleeping there on occasion to protect the construction materials. Patrick is also an elected District Aseemblyman, and is a dedicated community leader. In the days leading up to the event, the electricity had failed numerous times, and three terrazo machines (two from Takoradi) broke down because of the inadequate electrical current. Terrazo machines are essential "cement polishing" machines which prepare the floors in this humid climate with a hard polished surface. This is necessary for cleanliness and to prevent mold.

Meanwhile, workers were painting the building, cleaning up the site, hauling in chairs from "somewhere" (we suspect we owe a VERY big thank you for the Catholic Church and Father Paul and Esi Biney, Church President). When we all arrived at the building, we were ushered inside by proud WHH staff members in their beautiful blue and brown patterned WHH "cloth" outfits, made especially for the event. The conference room on the 2nd floor had been transformed into a clean, spacious room, complete with a beautifully appointed head table covered with a white cloth and flowers. The WHH Scholars arrived in their Manye Academy uniforms, with Mr. Browne, and Felicia, the Nursery School teacher, and our own Mustapha, himself a teacher and headmaster, helping them to find seats, etc.

Those of us associated with GCJ and WHH Board and Staff members had lovely blue and brown Ghanaian style shirts and dresses, with cloth specially designed for the occasion.

Other distinguished guests arrived: the King and Queen Mother of Upper Axim; the Queen Mother of Lower Axim and her sister, the Acting Queen Mother; Father Paul of the Catholic Church; Father John of the Anglican Church; Mr. Kojo Armah, the member of Parliament for this region; Mr. Joseph Elimah, the District Chief Executive; and many friends and family members, including the two women, mother and daughter, who were the water carriers supplying water with their headpans to the workers over the months of building. And of course, our WHH Board members, led so capably by Mr. James Kainyiah and his wife Justine, who are the visionaries and leaders on the ground. Other Board members present were Miss Frances Polley, Father Paul, Mr. Isaac Bentil, Mr. Joseph Quansah, and Awulae Attiburukusi. They were joined by GCJ Ghanaian alums, Gifty Asmah and her husband, the Headmaster of Nkroful Secondary School, Stephen Kwabia and wife Deborah, Frank Cudjoe, Esi Biney, Annie Essien, Dina Cobbinah, Mustapha Abdullah, and Francis "Old Soldier" Nokoe. Our friend from Bellingham, Kathryn Roe, who has a program supporting secondary education in the Cape Coast area, also honored us with her presence. As you can imagine, this was also a wonderful reunion for all of us GCJ Ghana Project alums, North Americans and Ghanaians.

The King of Lower Axim, Awulae Attiburukusu III, our friend and WHH Board member, officiated. The dedication was conducted by the Archbishop of Metropolitan Accra, a native son of Axim. Barbara and Maryanne attended the Catholic Church the day before, where Father Buckle preached about children and encouraged the congregation to care for all the children of Axim. His Mom, the mother of twelve children all of whom are educated, still lives in Axim, and we were honored to meet her as well.

Esi Biney was the master of ceremonies. James Kainyiah gave the opening remarks. Anastasia Amoo, WHH Administrative Assistant, gave the closing remarks. Ann Essien presided over the dedication of the veronica buckets.

Best of all, the children who will soon call the WHH facility home and some of their temporary guardians were there. Several older children participated in the ceremony. The Catholic Band played festive music---kind of an Africanized version of our New Orleans type of music--gay and upbeat for sure!! (After all, where did this music originate???!!!) Everyone was dressed in traditional cloth---a colorful and celebratory atmosphere!

I believe all of us there felt a kinship and partnership that goes far beyond our respective national borders. We did indeed feel a global connection centered around the care and love of children and what we adults can accomplish if we come together in a spirit of understanding and sincere desire. For a little while, we forgot about the bad phone connections, the electrical breakdowns, the lack of internet connectivity, the communication challenges exacerabated by wide cultural differences, the economic disparities, the heat and humidity, and all the other obstacles we have collectively faced. We just allowed ourselves to bask in our mutual feeling of accomplishment and our collective determination to continue step-by-step, not quite knowing where the future will take us, but having faith in ourselves and God that we will together find our way.