WULUGU PROJECT UPDATE – NOVEMBER 2016
WULUGU 22 YEARS ON – LYNNE’S REVIEW
In 1995 we had built our ﬁrst hostel for girls, at WULUGU Secondary (hence our name). We ﬁlled the school library with books from UK schools, repaired ﬂoors and sent science equipment.
Northern Ghana was struggling to make lives better. They are the proudest, most determined of people, ready to extend their friendship and hospitality to all despite the profound deprivation, poverty and neglect. Their rich history, bravery in the face of massive problems, and sharp minds were a privilege to encounter. Their sadness, pain and hunger were often hidden by joyful celebrations.
Few heads of families and hardly any women had any education. But they saw that we would listen, and, even without much money, would help them to help themselves. Meanwhile, girls were betrothed at birth, sold for four cows, married on ﬁrst menstruation to an older man with a group of wives.
These are the communities that have embraced our ‘small’ charity. Over the years we have built together, not just schools but a culture of deep trust and mutual respect, not of ‘us’ and ‘them’ but of an extended family. We have learned so much from each other and shared precious moments, immense challenges, times of doubt but mainly times of triumph – showing the world what is really possible when peoples work together.
We have reached those villages that are too distant and where our projects are hidden from the outside world because the outside world, and often local government, does not go there. We greatly appreciate the support of all religious groups who have worked together to ensure success of our projects, particularly in ensuring that girls and young women have the life chances that their own mothers never had.
The newsletter shows some of the great progress we have made. You will read about our projects leading the way.
- We were one of the ﬁrst to provide teacher accommodation. We are making Junior High schooling accessible for girls which opens the door to qualiﬁcations.
- For older girls, our Vocational Schools are increasingly popular enabling many girls to return from slavery. We have trained teachers at our Vocational Schools – another ‘new’ idea.
- Thanks to the wonderful Eagle Foundation, who have been so supportive, we have changed traditional building practices to delay the almost inevitable weather damage.
- Perhaps the most change is the attitude to early marriage for girls. Families are trying hard to keep their girls at school beyond primary. This has been helped by our income-generating loans for women.
- Our many toilet blocks (often the ﬁrst in a district) ensure privacy so that girls and female teachers actually go to school right through the month
- Pre-fourteen there are as many girls as boys now in WULUGU schools and the number of girls in school beyond fourteen has increased dramatically.
The punishing climate, massive disease risk, hunger, lack of infrastructure, education and medical care are still major problems. As emphasized in our generous citation at the celebration of the 20th anniversary of my ﬁrst tribal chieftaincy, we are still very much needed.
We are eternally grateful to our donors, supporters and volunteers in Ghana and the UK – there are too many to thank individually but you can be assured that your support is making life-changing improvements to this neglected and impoverished part of Ghana.
Ghana Monitoring Visit – June 2016
This year’s visit from 5th to 12th June included Jane Scott, Lynne and Roger Symonds from the UK and in Ghana Solomon Nachina (our Ghana Co-ordinator).
Sun 5th June – 0715 arrive tired in Tamale after 24hrs via Amsterdam and Accra. Met local Education Officers in Damongo – we stressed need to keep our buildings in good repair. Visit to Larabanga hostel – working amazingly. Very hot 40 degrees.
Monday 6th – More high-level meetings in Damongo.
To Murugu Primary School – met by local PTA – tremendous! Temperature above 40deg.
A long drive to Bawina.
Buildings in need of major repairs after 12 years (normal life of buildings in this extreme climate).
Tuesday 7th – Drove to Kabampe to visit recently built Junior High. Building design excellent (our new stronger longer lasting design) – airy and well-planned. Onward to Gbenfu to visit our two schools and teacher accommodation. Getting hotter. Drove to Sawla to our Vocational School – a very successful and model school. Long journey back to Tamale. Tired and getting hotter. Puncture in middle of nowhere. Eaten by flies in the shade – poured water over myself.
Wednesday 8th – Meeting with John, in charge of our vocational program. Explained his forward thinking teacher training plans – good. Baking hot now. Off to Kopeng to see school built last year. Welcomed by Chief – “talking drums” drummed us in and out. Greeted by crowds and 300 pupils. Wonderful school – 8 splendid classrooms, a library and toilets – a dream come true. Speeches and dancing – presented with a ram, smocks and eggs. On to Tolon Vocational School – appalling dangerous road – school well kept.
Thursday 9th – To Walewale to Eagle FM for 30min live broadcast – good questions and able to get our message across. Everywhere posters about WULUGU’S 20 years. Went on essential toilet hunt, found one in health centre. On to Gbani (we recently made essential repairs here) – well kept and masses of children. On to Nagboo . Audience with chief – he gave us a sheep! Visit our3-room Junior High. So many children. Much poverty. Shattered by heat/hunger/tiredness/ long travels. On to Nalerigu to audience with Nayiri, King of Mamprugu – most influential Chief. Someone kindly gave us guinea fowl that travelled with us under seats and kept escaping on our long journey back to Tamale. Oh joy!
Friday 10th – Our planned 5 hour each way Lukula trip cancelled (bandits from Niger/Sudan active – they attack, rob and kill). Raining hard but cooler. Went to bank to collect bank statements – asked for a better exchange rate on our funds. On to Savelgu Vocational School – huge successes here with many setting up businesses. Late afternoon meeting with Ghana Director. Late pm meeting with nine of our building team – they were just splendid – friendly and hard-working. Exhausted to bed – early start tomorrow.
Saturday 11th – Day of the grand Durbar to celebrate 20th anniversary of my enskinment as Neesin Poanaba and to unveil plaque commemorating the work and life of Karimu Nachina.
Sunday 12th – Early morning flight back to Accra. Torrential rain. 10pm flight to Amsterdam.
Monday 13th – Late. All luggage soaked through. Pretty exhausted but pleased with what was achieved.