Sunday, November 18, 2012

News from Ghana 2012

A few months ago we left Yamoransa. We’ve been home for a while now, settled back into our comfortable routines. Hot water. Drinkable water. Air-conditioning. Personal space. Restful nights. Riceless meals. You might be thinking back on your experience this summer and wondering…did I make a difference?

You will draw your own conclusions based on your personal experience, but here is the answer provided by the king of Yamoransa, Nana Akwaa II:  “Before you came we were a village that had lost it community spirit. You helped us find our spirit again. You lit a fire under us. You made us believe that things are possible.”

With your talent and skill you worked with Yamoransans to seek solutions for their poverty and other challenges that they face. Thank you for your collective efforts that:
  • Inspired children with a love of learning, of the arts, of athletics, and opened their minds to a different culture.
  • Provided care for the sick with knowledge, skill, and kind words.
  • Built the foundation for a community center, and I don’t mean a foundation of poured concrete but rather a foundation of motivation and possibility.
  • Formed associations of workers who can better leverage their skills collectively rather than on their own.
  • Inspired girls with a model for success and the message to stay in school.
And many thanks to the organizations and individuals who made this possible:
  • Our program was launched by with the assistance of the Yale World Fellows with an introduction to Emmanuel Asiedu, a World Fellow in 2008. We work in concert with our Fellows all over the world to identify targets of opportunity in impoverished areas.
  • Kwame Otchere and AFS Ghana volunteers including Evans Yeboah, Eddie and many more who worked so hard in preparation and will be working throughout the year to sustain projects initiated by our visit.
  • University of Cape Coast leveraged our time and talent to further build on their already successful social work and research in the community.
  • Unite for Sight which put Yamoransa on its quarterly rotation, providing eye care where none existed.
  • ONE and Yale for setting the stage for advocacy events to be organized throughout our network of Yale Clubs.
  • Coca-Cola for supporting our efforts both financially and with six volunteers sharing their expertise with our college mentoring, education, and athletics teams.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank each and every one of you, the YASC volunteers. If any one person had stayed home, we would have accomplished a bit less, seen fewer smiles, taught fewer classes, or treated fewer patients. Most of all, YASC in Ghana could not have succeeded without the amazing volunteer leaders who worked tirelessly in organizing the project teams. Having worked hard to prepare for the projects, many of the teams arrived in Yamoransa to find that quite a bit had to be changed around and adapted to the reality of the community. We are all appreciative of the great efforts by the official leaders as well as those who became leaders during the trip.

And it could not have been done without the help of many participants from AYA and Yale including Johnson Flucker, Nory Babbitt, Alisa Masterson, Rick Leone, Mike Morand and especially the work of Joao Aleixo and the inspiration of Mark Dollhopf.

See you in Ghana next year when we return to Yamoransa and share even more amazing experiences with the community and each other.

Kathy Edersheim: While Kathy was working as the volunteer producer for Ghana, as of the middle of April, she joined the AYA as part of the professional team. She is Senior Director of International Alumni Relations and Travel. Her primary responsibility is for the Yale Educational Travel trips with additional responsibility for YASC and the Yale Global Alumni Leadership Exchange.

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