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Editorial: Helping to Build a School in Ghana

Reston resident appeals for support in building a school.

Gayle Robinson playing with some of the students at the
school.

Gayle Robinson playing with some of the students at the school. Photo contributed

My name is Gayle Robinson and I am a Reston resident currently working in Ghana as a health, water and sanitation educator with the Peace Corps. In addition to my primary health projects, I am working with my community to build a new school. I am writing to request support from the Reston Connection in order to spread the word about my project.

My town is a rural community of about 600 cocoa farmers in the Western Region of Ghana. Three years ago, the community approached the District Assembly about starting a junior high school in town. Previously, students would walk over an hour to an overcrowded and poorly performing junior high school in a neighboring town. The district agreed to fund teachers, but told the community they had limited funds and could not build the new classrooms. The community had begun construction on a new school but construction ceased due to limited funding. Since then, the community has made two makeshift classrooms but they are not sustainable. The new school building will include three classrooms, an office for teachers and a storage area. The building will also cater to town meetings and night classes, which are currently held by flashlight.

Often, international aid organizations build schools and hospitals without working with the local government to ensure future funding for staff. Not only has the funding for teachers already been written into the district’s budget, the district has also agreed to contribute approximately $5,000 in materials for the construction. Additionally, the community has volunteered to do all of the labor and the district will be providing free technical workshops throughout the construction process in order to train members of the community in masonry, carpentry and electrical work. This will therefore ensure proper construction, as well as increase capacity within the community for future projects.

I am writing because despite these contributions by the community and District Assembly, approximately $8,500 is still needed. Donations are accepted online through the Peace Corps website—http://donate.peacecorps.gov—and my project can be found by searching under my last name, Robinson. If you are interested in supporting my project, I’d be happy to provide you with any additional information.

Gayle Robinson is a health, water and sanitation educator, Peace Corps Ghana.