Step by Step - 2019
We always have plenty of projects on the go, so be sure to read the little box in the upper left corner to find out what is being shown in the photos!
Check back often as this album grows all year long!
We always have plenty of projects on the go, so be sure to read the little box in the upper left corner to find out what is being shown in the photos!
Check back often as this album grows all year long!
We are fortunate that we have many people who like to give! When we have enough money, we send collected items on their merry little way to Dekpor. There are countless hours put in getting things ready before they leave Aurora and in distributing in Dekpor also. However, it all worth the effort because it is extremely exciting for our students to receive goods.
What do we always need? Gently used laptops and cellphones. Always.
Thanks to all of you who think of us!
Note: Please always contact Carol first, before dropping things off. If you want to have your donation allocated to shipping, please always keep that in mind, as it greatly appreciated.
This is the album that will continue to grow all year long! Here you'll find a wide assortment of items that people have chosen to get in honour of someone special. Honestly, it's always a fun surprise for us to find out what others want to choose. The photos are labelled to help you figure things out!
Thanks to all of you who think of DSDO at gift-giving time!
Keep coming back!
In May, we had a team of 5 dentists visit Dekpor… and it was overwhelming in many ways. Far too many of the students have never owned a toothbrush, which is heart-breaking. As a result, in May and June, we held a toothbrush campaign and we're so grateful that $450 was raised!
A big, gleaming smile to:
We are always incredibly grateful when we're able to host an all-school luncheon. This was #13, and it was made possible by friends in Austria especially: Dr. Karin and Dr. Robert Haas, Dr. Rudolf Riesenhuber, and DI. Herbert and Margarethe Hofmann.
An order of 1000 kenke lunches was provided by 5 Dekpor cooks.
Who enjoyed this? All of the students, staff, and 24 high school students at Atorkor Technical Vocational Institute.
What is kenke? A local favourite that most do not get to enjoy because it takes a lot of time to prepare! It is a maise dough ball that is served with a hot pepper and tomato sauce and served with tiny dried fish. Each student also enjoyed the biscuits they received.
It is difficult to describe the level of excitement and the extreme gratitude. Malnutrition and under-nutrition are the norm. Kids are always hungry. In some photos, you'll notice just how focused they are. Sadly, for many of the students, it would be the only meal they get in a day. To get the opportunity to share a very special meal in the company of their friends is cause for great celebration, and you can see it in all of these photos! These children are absolutely thrilled to be getting a delicious meal.
Thank you to our Austrian friends!
There are plenty of reasons why we collect shoes in Ontario to ship to Ghana, but snakes, scorpions, and parasites rank right up there. Dekpor kids NEED shoes. We are so grateful that we have partnered with several Ontario schools that make holding a shoe drive an annual affair!
Check back, as this album will grow, and you'll also see the shoes being distributed in Dekpor.
We are most grateful to everyone involved with the 5th Food Packing Event held in Milton on May 5th! We received 33 boxes of Kids Against Hunger food. In each box, is 36 bags of food. In each bag is a day's worth of nutrition (vitamin-fortified) for six children. That's 7128 rice casserole meals to distribute to our most needy students!
It takes a lot of fundraising and hours put in by dedicated volunteers to hold a food packing event. We'd like to thank:
It is astounding to see what more than 80 wonderful volunteers can do in a matter of hours, and it was made possible by the leadership and encouragement of Kinh Quach. After the 33 boxes were loaded into the van, Carol drove straight to the shipper so that they could be on their way to Ghana as soon as possible.
Check back in July to see photos of the food being distributed in Dekpor!
Never, ever has a Dekpor child been seen by a dentist. Well, not until one of our sponsored kids had such pain that treatment HAD to be found. It was at that visit that Linda and Abraham discovered that there was a team of dentists at Sogakope willing to come to Dekpor!
Early May, a team of 5 dentists arrived in Dekpor. They put on information sessions so the students could learn about dental health. They screened every student at Dekpor Basic School — that's 933 kids — and the staff! And then they did any procedures necessary. In comparison to North American fees, what the Ghanaian dentists charged for their talent and time was nominal. They stayed for 2 days, working long hours, to see everyone possible.
Our high school students had to be taken at later dates to Sogakope directly, as did a handful of elementary students from Dekpor who required procedures that required the proper setting with all of the necessary equipment.
The conditions in Dekpor were very challenging, and it was extremely hot, but the five dentists, Blessing, Selassie, Esinam, Peter, and Simon worked with incredible efficiency and professionalism. We are also grateful that our local midwife/nurse, Adrianna, worked right along with the dentists to dispense medications for infections.
We sincerely thank the following who financed this: one anonymous donor, Ledgir House, Jackie and Dave Montgomery, Windfields Middle School, Susan and Scott Mikulecky, Barrie North Dentistry, Shari and David Van de Pol, Krista Scaldwell, Kim Nelson, Steve Howell, Lucy Romyn, Nat Jedman, Orianna Brodbeck, Ellie Greenwood, and Lauren Pettinger. A wonderful $4167 was raised!
Our local midwife and nurse said:
We noticed a very great need for both student and parental education about dental and physical health. Far too many parents avoid having their children treated for even minor illnesses or tooth pain. This leads to further illness and infection. We hope to do more education sessions in the future for the community.
This is one of the most important steps that DSDO has made. The condition of the children's teeth is appalling. There were deep, deep cavities, teeth broken off at the gum line, abscesses, extreme plaque build up, infections, and many other issues. How the children were living with the pain is beyond me. The children had never seen nor even heard of a dentist. Some have never used a toothbrush. Toothpaste is an expense not afforded by most families. Even the school staff had many issues with their teeth. A good number of extractions were done. We need to get the kids and parents to understand how important their health is, both physical and dental. And we need the materials to make dental health accessible for them: toothpaste, toothbrushes, and at least an annual dental check up.
Yes, now that we know there are dentists who are willing to travel, we will have to run yearly campaigns to ensure that we can provide basic dental care to our students. And yes, we will gratefully accept donations of toothpaste and toothbrushes in Ontario.
We've never experienced this before, but action had to be taken.
In November of 2018, Linda and Abraham noticed a new child in town… and he was clearly very ill. DSDO decided to immediately get him put on the food programme, because he was terribly emaciated. We also decided to pay for a national health insurance card and get him to the local clinic.
Turns out that John has been suffering since at least early 2016, and possibly even longer. He was taken to a doctor back in 2017, but his family couldn't afford treatment. He was left to live with an uncle in Dekpor Fall 2018.
We decided to finance the trips to the children's hospital in Accra, and to do what we could to help. Considering we have 933 students at Dekpor Basic, and another 29 high school students under our wing, we couldn't deplete the entire emergency medical fund on one student. In February, we put out the desperate cry for help, and in a matter of days, $4302 was raised! Goodness, we could NOT believe the outpouring of compassion from our beautiful supporters!
John has Langerhans Cell Hystiocytosis, and depending on the medical professional you ask, it is considered a form of cancer. The great thing is, it IS treatable! We will continue to document his journey, but the photos already are telling a very uplifting tale! John went from not being able to swallow food and being exceedingly weak, to sporting a smile and a whole new ability to enjoy life!
A very warm thank you to the following people who immediately jumped to help:
Jackie and Dave Montgomery, Chris Fitzgerald, Helen Rochon, Donna and Ron Jamieson, Rita Forte, Lynne Brown, Elizabeth Rivers, Liz Clarke, Carol Sheardown, Paula Forte Lamanna, Lucy Romyn, Erich Forler, Antony Gariepy, El Goy, Sue Walters, Joan Ross, Riaz Mohammed, Claudia Da Silva, Nina Forte, Gerard Baribeau, Marissa Lee, Paul Jenkins, Julia Fingernagel, Steve Howell, Julie Robertson, and Ingrid Smith.
Boy oh boy… are we ever excited about the potential of this! Have you ever heard of moringa? Google it! Did you discover that it's like a miracle tree? Easy to grow? Full of protein, vitamins, and minerals? And, not only that, we've found a guaranteed purchaser!
We have decided to embrace this and give it a try. There are more than 50 farmers jumping on the moringa bandwagon! Many are choosing to intersperse other crops, especially for the first years of growth. For each half acre, 250 seeds are being given.
It is going to take some time for things to get rolling, but the excitement is palpable and the farmers are eager to try.
We are very grateful to the Mikulecky family for starting off the fund, and then to Sonya McFarlane for ensuring we had the entire funding necessary to get this started. Clearing and ploughing the fields started in March.
Stay tuned for more photos throughout the year, because this album is going to GROW!
There are many things that most of us take for granted, such as socks. But, if you're a child in Dekpor, chances are you don't even have any. The Basics Kit was originally offered to our child sponsors, and then opened up to anyone who wanted to contribute. What a wonderful response we had! By the end of March, the kitty had $2990!!
We'd like to thank the following people for allowing us to help 116 students:
Joanne McPhail and Jim Graszat (who paid for 33 kits!), Donna Jamieson, Steve Howell, Susan and Scott Mikulecky (3), Michelle Lee, Jean Anderson, Thomas Niederstrasser, Rune Johansson, Jen Esmail, Melanie Gruber, Markus Gruber, Becky Longe, Andrew Sanderson, Diane and Clive Bourke (2), EveLyn Dunn, James Betts, Ann Macoun (2), Christian Gruber, Karen Burke, Petra Schmickl, John and Shauna (4), Christian Mayer, (5) Max Mayer (2), Ian and Leslie Toms (3), Louise Dyer, Jennifer Laforest, Jennifer Chiarcossi, Kyla Laforest, Monika Schmickl, Heather Lanning, Kim Hensley, Krista Scaldwell (2, for Brendan and Chloe), Joan Ross (7), Julie Robertson, Gerard Baribeau (10), and Judy McLeod (2).
Well, where would we be without the annual boost from Busch Systems? Likely with very few Dekpor residents drinking clean water. Busch Systems has replenished our water needs with a donation $10,000!
Here's what it covered:
We had to fundraise for years and accomplish the water system in manageable phases. It has been a huge undertaking! Busch Systems has been a big part of our water story since 2013. We have a WATSAN (water and sanitation) committee in place because this system is supporting thousands of Dekpor residents.
Increased sales reflect greater use of the system, and therefore, an increased number of filters and parts are needed for general upkeep. This donation, in essence, subsidizes the cost of water, which ensures that more people can afford clean water and choose it over the contaminated stream. The bottom line is that people are listening; they are beginning to understand why they need to choose clean water. Without the incredible donation by Busch Systems, allowing us to buy all the necessary system components, we’d have to raise the price at the standpipes to sustain the system. We are extremely grateful that we're able to keep the costs for residents at a very reasonable level!
Typically our albums are showcasing things that were recently purchased or given by donors, but this one is a bit different. It was last year when Joyce Wilson made a big donation that allowed us to purchase more than $3500 worth of math manipulatives. Last summer, two outreach volunteers, Sasheen Niles and Becky Thompson, did a sharing session with 9 of the Dekpor teachers.
Now, here we are in 2019 and several of the staff from last year are no longer in Dekpor… so it was time for another workshop! There is no point in having thousands of dollars of fantastic resources just sitting collecting dust. A huge thanks to Ian Marshall and Jennifer McLaren for putting on a wonderfully informative math session for our Dekpor teachers. Hands on — THAT is the way to learn!
Add to that, Jennifer did a couple of after school workshops for our girls in JHS 1 and 2! The girls had a great time and were fully engaged — just look at the photos!
What a great way to ensure the materials that Joyce financed will get put to use and further help our Dekpor students understand math concepts better. Thanks to Jennifer and Ian for sharing their talent, knowledge, and experience!
Imagine not owning any underwear. Or, how about if you only had one pair.
And then just try to think about HOW all of our Dekpor Basic School girls feel now that they were given several new pairs! Yes, in a very quick and successful December campaign, we raised $1325 and were able to purchase 1895 pairs of underwear for our girls! All of the younger girls received 3 pairs each, and the older girls, including the sponsored ones who are away at high school, received 4 pair each!
A big thanks to the following people who made this possible:
We held a quick campaign in December and were thrilled to have $885 allocated to a hygiene fund! We used tote bags that had been donated to us in the fall (thanks for the connection, Sigma Promotions!) and filled each with: a toothbrush, toothpaste, handkerchief, soap, and deodorant. The nurses from the local clinic came to give some basic instruction to our junior high school students. A total of 120 kits were distributed to all of the students in JHS 2 and JHS 3!
A big thank you to: Quality Integrators Corporation, Ana Vegega, Windfields Middle School, Murray Bowser and Sandra Hartman, Rahnuma Panthaky in honour of Meher, Sogut Gulec and Derin in honour of Mr. Peters and Ms Dufour, and Elidia Marraccini for making this possible.
Imagine having a class of 60 or more students and only having ONE text book to instruct the whole class. Unfortunately, that's a reality in Dekpor. The teacher walks up and down the aisles, holding open the diagram in the book, hoping that the quick glance is enough for the students to see what is being discussed. Then the teacher walks to the board and students are expected to copy the notes, word for word, because they don't have their own text to hold.
We have more than 900 students enrolled at Dekpor Basic this year. The need for text books is undeniable.
Extreme gratitude is felt for the two donations allocated to text books in December:
DSDO purchased 95 English text books in January and the teachers are extremely happy! The students in grades 3, 4, 5, and 6 will truly appreciate having books to share!
Single women households are the poorest of the poor. They are often left with lots of children, many not even their own, and somehow they need to survive. The vast majority of people living in Dekpor are subsistence farmers who either own or rent a plot of land to try to grow the food they need. The ground is overgrown and requires a lot of manual labour before it is ready for any crops to be planted. So many women are attempting to tackle this backbreaking job with their bare hands, or tools that are basically falling apart. DSDO has taken a special interest in trying to make a difference. Abraham knows a tool maker in Togo who designs cutlasses and adzes specifically for women (meaning they are slightly smaller and easier for women to manipulate).
Last year, we'd reached the 161 mark… and here we are now, after Christmas donations, able to distribute an additional 49, putting us at 210 farming tools distributed!
We are very grateful to: Peter Skillen for making a tribute gift in memory of Paul Wallace which has provided 24 tools, and then a second donation allowing for 16 more; Ines Howe for giving 4 to her grandsons, Anthony and Christophe; and Darlene and Dan Wu for giving Liam 4. And there was an extra tool that DSDO gave out. These 49 tools were distributed in January to women who were delighted to receive such a needed gift!
We are deLIGHTed with our pilot run of Solights and knew that we wanted to purchase more when the opportunity arose. Due to a great sale in November, we ran a 2 day campaign to take advantage of the best price possible, and we were able to get 40 lights.
A huge thanks to Kim Nelson (in honour of Auntie Ev, Mom, Claire, and Grace), ABC Book Club (Lydia Ridd, Louise Dyer, Jennifer Weaver, Sue Bugos, Darlene Cann and friends), Gerard Baribeau, Steve Howell, Becky Macoun Longe, and Sue Walters.
Keep in mind that Dekpor is in the dark for 12 hours every day. Basically students go to school, go to the family plot of land to do chores, and head home in the dark for dinner. It's impossible to do homework at night without any light. Now we have 40 families who will benefit from the gift of light!
What a way to brighten someone's life!
Something new this year! We've taken the plunge and purchased 5 wonderful laptops for our 5 students currently in ICT at Atorkor Vocational High School. Wisdom, Saviour, Zinabu, Tity, and Joy are extremely grateful to the following people who have made such a pricey investment possible: Tony and Susan Anderson, Helen Rochon, and her mom Helen Rochon, Lynne Brown, Edna Michael, and Pat Matheson. Another shout out to Best Buy, Aurora, where we were treated very well and given deep discounts. We are very hopeful that these students will be able to put their skills to great use!
Gently used laptops and cell phones are ALWAYS gratefully accepted. There are no landlines in Dekpor. High school students require a smart phone in order to receive much of the learning materials from their teachers. People in the village can run a business if they have a phone. If you have a cell that is stuck in the back of your drawer, consider giving it a new life!
Donated laptops are used either in our Dekpor Basic School computer lab, or by a high school student. ICT is part of the curriculum and it's necessary for us to give our students a fighting chance to pass exams.
A massive thank you to every single person who has donated a cell phone or a laptop!
We get things done! Thanks for your continued ngoing support!
Every year we have lots of smaller projects or purchase that help us make life in Dekpor a little better.
As you take a look through the album, make sure you read the label on the upper left.
Thanks to all the people who have made these things possible!
Be sure to re-visit the albums often as we’ll be adding to it throughout the year!
We have plenty of goods that are donated to us and when we have enough money allocated to cover the cost of shipping, we send things from Ontario over to Ghana. It takes a whole lot of time to pick up, launder, organize, sort, inventory, label, pack, transport, unpack, re-sort, and distribute both in Ontario and in Ghana… but it is always exciting for the people of Dekpor to receive items and please know that we are very grateful when goods are donated to us.
Note: We do accept other items, but it is essential to check with Carol first and to have funding in place to cover the cost of shipping.
We had 3 shipments leave Ontario late November/December… and they arrived in early 2018. Lots of clothing; lots of primary school goods. Be sure to read the upper left box to see who donated it!
We thank Sigma Promotions for all of the notebooks, pens, and clothing that they gave us last fall (two vans-full of goods). Aurora FC (formerly AYSC), we thank you for your continued support — every few months you are always sending something our way! And to everyone else who makes a point of sharing with us… thank you!
Be sure to re-visit the album often as we’ll be adding to it throughout the year!
Often our supporters like to allocate their donation to something specific, and it's always fun for us to find out what they will choose. Often these are tribute gifts, being made in honour of someone special.
As you look through the album, read the description to the upper left so you can see who was responsible for the purchase.
Thanks to everyone who makes all of these wonderful additions possible!
Be sure to re-visit the album often as we’ll be adding to it throughout the year!
Just look at the photos to see what a big deal this is!
This is the fourth time that a school luncheon has been held because of Karen Burke! Amazing stuff! (We've been able to do this a total of 12 times now.)
What happened? Well, DSDO hired 4 local women to to prepare kenke. Kenke is a local delicacy — a maise dough ball that is served with tiny dried fish and a hot pepper/tomato sauce. It takes quite some time to make, so it honestly is a rare thing for our kids to ever get to eat it. Every single student and all of the staff got to enjoy a meal together. It's a celebration! But as you can notice in the more candid photos, the business of eating is a serious one. Many, many students are sent to school without any food at all. Having the opportunity to socialize and eat together is a genuine treat!
Due to absentees, there were several meals left over which worked out perfectly since Linda and Abraham were visiting Anloga and Atorkor high schools. Kenke for them, too! What an unexpected surprise!
It takes plenty of organizing and a lot of energy to execute feeding more than 900 students so efficiently, but Linda and Abraham have done it enough times now that they know how to manage the cooks, the distribution, and the photos!
Smiles all over the place. Thank you, Karen!
Sometimes things don't go quite as planned. The first toilet built in Dekpor Yia was not one that DSDO designed or even constructed. This toilet was 'in progress' when Linda first arrived in Dekpor, back in 2009. But to be honest, what had been done was choosing the site location, the attempt to save money, and the making of some building blocks. Over the years, a small amount of work was completed. In 2015, we were asked to help with the funding, and DSDO paid for many of the materials, and the rain harvesting system, the hand washing stations, and the attendant room. They relied heavily on communal labour to complete the project. Unfortunately, without a general contractor in charge of the job from the get go, there have been some major repairs that were required this year. Huge cracks in the walls had to be repaired because the integrity of the entire structure was in trouble, the outer walls had to be braced, and the entire building, therefore, required painting.
We're grateful to Tony and Susan Anderson for their incredible donation that has enabled us to do many, many necessary jobs that others may not find terribly glamorous!
Scorpions, snakes, parasites… three great reasons why our students truly need to be wearing something on their feet. When we first started our work in Dekpor, the vast majority of students did not own a pair of shoes. We're changing that! Holding shoe drives at Ontario schools has become an annual occurrence and we're very happy that we have a great circle of people who like to see the smiles on the faces in Dekpor once the shoes are distributed.
This fall, we had four schools hold extremely successful shoe drives:
We are thrilled to have received hundreds of pairs of running shoes and soccer cleats! An added thank you to Aurora Prep and Minesing Central for also collecting backpacks.
Stay tuned to this page to see both the before (while the shoes were in Ontario) and after photos.
Oh, what a great day! A big thank you to Ledgir House in British Columbia for sponsoring a school luncheon at Dekpor Basic School! It's been a very, very long time since we've been able to do this; to say the students were thrilled would be an understatement!
A delicious lunch of kenke is served, and then to top it off, the students also got biscuits. Kenke is fermented maise dough balls, and it is served with fish and hot pepper sauce. This time DSDO hired 4 local women to do the time-consuming cooking. It is rather labour-intensive to make kenke, so it is a rare treat for our children to enjoy such a fine meal!
Thank you, Ledgir House, for putting smiles on faces!
We'd like to thank Tony and Susan Anderson for giving us the funding to allow for a job that otherwise never would have received the attention it required. Way back in our early years, Abraham and Linda lobbied the government to have a block of classrooms built on our campus (2012). Lucky it happened; unlucky that the workmanship left much to be desired. Over the years, DSDO has had to do several repairs to fix the rooms. Now here we find ourselves having to chip up the old cement in each of the 6 classrooms and the front porch. It's a time consuming job. All the furniture had to be removed, then the floors has to be entirely broken up. To apply a top coat of cement requires the cement to be mixed by hand… and you can see for yourself that there are not any of the typical tools or equipment that we'd have to accomplish such a task.
A big job. A job that we are really glad to have completed. A grateful thank you to Tony and Susan!
In 2012, we first launched this wild idea, and it has bloomed since then! This is such a great chance for students to solidify concepts in both English and math. Classes are held each morning for three weeks. This time we've hired 12 Dekpor teachers: 10 in classrooms and 1 in the library and 1 in the computer lab. We also have 3 outreach volunteers assisting this summer: Sasheen Niles, Helen Rochon, and Becky Thompson, all from Ontario. This year we had almost 300 students attending!
All of our fully-sponsored students and food programme students are enrolled. Any other Dekpor Basic School student who pays a very nominal fee can also attend. During the regular school year, class sizes are still much larger than we'd like to see, but these three weeks allow for a much better teacher-student ratio. Additional computer lab time is also key as we're just starting to see some of our sponsored secondary school students choose to enter ICT.
This is an incredible experience for all involved… the teachers who get to earn some extra money, the students who benefit from the lessons, and the outreach volunteers who will forever be touched by their opportunity to share their talents.
An extra bonus is that 3 suitcases with some of the newly purchased math manipulatives (thanks Joyce Wilson) traveled with the outreach volunteers. The Ontario teachers had an opportunity to demonstrate many of the new materials to both the Dekpor teachers and the students!
Thanks to all of our student sponsors and people who give to our food programme… YOU are the ones who make this possible!
There are a lot of people out there who don't want to talk about toilets, but hey, we would not fit into that category. Toilets. They are necessary. They save lives. Skeptical? Think about the health ramifications of open defecation, the environmental concerns, and human dignity.
Yia #3 is our fifth town toilet facility and we are forever grateful to our extremely generous donors… the shy ones who prefer to stay anonymous… the ones who also financed Dome's facility and a big chunk of the water distribution system. We are so thankful that they understand the magnitude of tackling these necessary improvements.
Like the other toilet facilities built with our design, there are 10 cubicles, a rain harvesting system, hand washing stations, a storage closet, and a booth for the attendant. Dekpor Yia is the largest of the three villages, and so it is necessary to have a third building to service the population.
We are very excited that we are able to build this year!
Math has always been a huge challenge for our Dekpor Basic School students. Unfortunately, there has been a very dismal pass rate. We've decided that we need to focus on improvement and do our best to give the teachers and students the tools to help.
This is where our amazingly generous friend, Joyce, steps in. Joyce Wilson has been with us right from the start, and she has funded several important projects. Thanks to her latest financial contribution, we spent more than $3500 on a wide variety of math materials that teachers here in Ontario are accustomed to having in our schools.
In Ontario, before shipping, Carol started some basic learning centres for many of the manipulatives (dice, tangrams, pentominoes, dominoes, attribute blocks, etc.). A special shout out to Donna Jamieson for working on models and sheets for the Fractions kit.
Thanks to student volunteers, Rachel Lee and Claire Wilson, for their assistance getting materials ready.
We hope that giving Dekpor students a hands-on approach will help them understand the concepts.
Joyce, thank you for making this possible!
We are absolutely thrilled by the generous donation made by Tony and Susan Anderson that is allowing us to complete the last item on our construction wish list for school campus! Yes, after financing rooms 1 to 4 (along with other wonderful things) last year, the Andersons have made another mind-blowing donation, and part of it is allowing us to finish off the kindergarten pod by building rooms 5 and 6!
Back in 2010 when DSDO first started our work in Dekpor, there were anywhere from 150 to 170 kindergarten kids crammed on benches under a mango tree. The teacher, Patience, (and goodness knows that incredible woman must have been absolutely FULL of patience herself), taught these sweet children without a room, without teacher or student materials, without assistance.
The floor and about one metre in height of the walls had been completed last summer so that the area was safe for the children to be using the kindergarten pod. Now, we're excited about the speed and efficiency in which the rest is being completed.
Just like last time, we have hired our most industrious students to work and learn alongside the professionals. Many of the students are planning their high school studies to be in the trades. This opportunity not only gives them tremendous hands-on experience, but it also puts money in their pockets to help cover their expenses.
We are eternally grateful to Susan and Tony. They have financed the entire kindergarten pod: 6 classrooms + a sandbox + a secured courtyard = INCREDIBLE!
Bicycles change lives!
DSDO has 50 bikes: 45 of them were donated in Ontario and shipped over to Ghana, while the original 5 were purchased in Ghana. The gift of a bicycle can radically change a student's life! Whether it is travelling to and from school each day, the trips to and from the family's plot of land, or going to study hall in our library in the evenings, owning a bike can save a student hours every day!
We made a decision to redistribute the bikes we currently have in Dekpor in lieu of shipping more over. But, conditions in Dekpor are particularly brutal: sand, salt, humidity, torrential rains, blistering sun, few roads… and students do not have any money to purchase parts when something breaks.
In April 2018, we ran a two-day campaign to raise funds to start a Bike Repair kitty. We raised just over $3000!
We'd like to thank the following for helping us keep the wheels rolling: Windfields Junior High School, Class 1B of BG Klosterneuberg in Austria, Amanda Burns, Chris Fitzgerald, Gerard Baribeau, Steve Howell, Nancy Newman, Domenic Molinaro, Silvia Gallagher, Aisling Mathews, Nat Jedman, Sue Walters, Kim Hensley, Ellen Dunn, Lorraine O'Sullivan, and Corinne O'Neill.
Rotary Club of Aurora decided to light up our lives! Talk about an incredible gift!
With an extremely generous donation of $5000, this wonderful group of people has made going to the town toilet facilities a whole lot safer. It's dark 12 hours/day, and uneven pathways, snakes, and scorpions can make the nighttime trek to the toilets more of an adventure than anyone is willing to risk.
We put in a total of 10 lights: three at Yia Town Toilet Facility #1, four at Yia Town Toilet Facility #2, and three at Dekpor Dome's Facility. Just take a look at the photos—it takes a team to put in the poles and get the wiring done.
What a difference this will make for the people of Dekpor! Health, safety, and dignity.
Thank you to Rotary Club of Aurora for all you've done to help us!
Back in July 2017, Carol started sourcing materials for use in the four kindergarten classrooms that were about to be constructed. When there are approximately 200 students and the starting point is zero, well, that means there is plenty of work to be done! Our Dekpor kids have no experience with toys. They haven't played with Duplo, they don't have puzzles, imaginations have never been stimulated. The teachers don't even have counters for use in math lessons to teach addition and subtraction. What's that mean? Well, ANYTHING that was found, donated, or purchased was an instant hit!
We thank Susan Heagy for her keen eye last summer sourcing goods. (See last year's Kindergarten Goods album.) We also thank Children's Forest and Ridley Orchard School for choosing us as one of the recipients of their Christmas drives! And yes, Carol has been constantly on the search for items to add to the collection. In this album you'll see plenty of the kindergarten goods IN USE! And it's true, the students haven't really grasped all the possibilities yet, but they are learning! As you'll see, even the teachers are joining in on the play because this is a new experience for them, too. Learning is a process, and we are happy that we are now able to get our youngest on the path to a brighter future.
If you have something that you'd like to donate, contact us.
Every year, three times a year, each student (from kindergarten to grade 9) enrolled at Dekpor Basic School has to pay exam fees—to buy the paper and to pay for the photocopying of their own exams. Only the exact number of exams paid for are printed. If there is nonpayment, a student is 'sacked' three weeks before the exam period and is not allowed to return until after. What's that mean? In the span of a school year, students miss three whole months of school because the family is unable to pay for the exam fees. Frankly, it's heartbreaking.
We are absolutely delighted that the ETFO Humanity Fund Board of Directors voted to support our application for $10,575! They have ensured that we can pay the fees for Terms 2 and 3 of this school year, and Term 1 of the 2018-2019 year for every student enrolled at Dekpor Basic School!
The ripple effect of this donation is huge and we are incredibly grateful to the Elementary Teachers' Federation of Ontario and the Humanity Fund!
Busch Systems has done it again! $12,900 was donated to help us make sure that we have all the back up equipment required to keep our clean water flowing through all three villages.
The things we needed include:
It took years of fundraising in Canada, and work done in manageable phases in Ghana, but we managed to accomplish the most challenging feat—supplying clean water all over Dekpor, from Dekpor Yia in the west, to Dekpor Dome in the middle, to Dekpor Horme in the east. It takes time for the WATSAN committees to get a handle on the sheer magnitude of this system. We are thoroughly grateful that Busch Systems is giving us the needed boost to ensure we have supplies and equipment in reserve so that the flow of water to the residents of Dekpor goes uninterrupted.
Busch Systems has been supporting our water initiatives since 2013!
Be sure to re-visit this album. We’ll be adding more photos soon!
In January, Rotary Club of Newmarket gave Dekpor School Development Organisation an honorarium when Carol was the guest speaker at their meeting on the 25th. We decided to make tippy taps.
Tippy taps… what are they? An ingenious way of washing hands that requires a minimal amount of water and materials.
Why does this matter? Quick stats:
A group of junior high school students from Dekpor Basic School gathered to improve the health of many. Under the instruction of our two librarians, Linda, and Abraham, the kids set to work gathering appropriate tree limbs and assembling all the necessary components to build 25 tippy taps. We added 5 more on school campus, 4 where our food providers are set up (for our food programme), and 16 at private family compounds. Cleverly placed in obvious locations, we are hoping that others may start asking questions and set up their own!
This is an initiative that we are going to continue. Not only has this helped every single person who washes their hands, but it counts towards course work for all of the students who took part in the construction. It's a win all around!
When 25 Semester at Sea students visited Dekpor, they worked together with our students to build an additional 30 tippy tap hand-washing stations! A fun and important activity that all participants enjoyed!
And… we are thrilled by the initiative shown by one of our sponsored students, Jennifer Dagbi. When the crew of SAS and Dekpor Basic School students were making their rounds, they were surprised to find one already in place where they were expecting to construct. After the first building session in February, Jennifer took it upon herself to build a tippy tap at her own home! Education is where it's at! Make that +1 more!
Using the April monthly donation from Lucy Romyn, Ron Tanaka, and Barb Porter, we decided to put in another 25 tippy taps while we were on the roll! See the photos in the album!
Thanks to a successful Mother's Day campaign, we received support to install 67 more tippy taps. A big thanks to Gerard Baribeau (25), Mike Smiley (15), Carol Sheardown (15), and Rebecca Prins (12) who made donations to honour someone special. The students are able to do this without adult intervention, and they get credit for their BDT course (basic design and technology). We're at 148 tippy taps so far this year!
Since 2010 when we first started our work, providing classroom furniture has been a continuous need.
Most classroom furniture in Ghana is entirely handmade, without the help of power tools. That means all the wood is cut by hand and there aren't screws to hold the wood together. Unfortunately, as these traditional desks get used and moved around, the nails wiggle out and then we are left with countless repairs. It is a constant struggle to keep up with fixing broken furniture.
We are thrilled that Busch Systems just made a donation that has allowed us to purchase 60, yes, SIXTY, of these beautiful new desks! We've never had anything so slick!
We are so excited to be piloting these new desks from Ashfoam, a new Ghanaian company! As you can see, they are intended for two students, so we now have sturdy, durable, attractive seating for 120 of our students!
Thank you Craig Busch, for making this possible!
In our wildest dreams, we couldn't have imagined that we would be in the position to be able to purchase more of these desks, yet here we are! With a very heartfelt thank you to Susan and Tony Anderson, we were able to take a portion of their extremely generous donation so that we could get more desks!
If you look in the album, you'll see the truck delivering 80 double desks… that is seating for 160 students! Happy students, happy teachers, no repairs required!
Tony and Susan, you've done it yet again! Thank you!
Laptops are the #1 needed item for us to collect and send to Dekpor.
Whether they are put into the computer lab at Dekpor Basic School or given to one of our high school students to use while they finish their studies, laptops are changing the lives of our students!
A most heartfelt thank you to all of you who donate.
If you have a gently used laptop, cell phone, or iPad, let us know!
A tragedy that struck one of our school staff members brought to light the extreme lack of medical equipment and supplies at the local clinic. Even the most basic of items were missing—not even one functioning thermometer! In a one week blitz, funds were raised to get items that were most wanted by the nurses and midwife at the clinic and deemed necessary by medical professionals here in Ontario.
We would like to thank Chris, Steve, Kerry, Lydia, Tracey, Rebecca, Jean, Lauren, Becky, and Claudia for stepping up to help.
We were able to make our dollars stretch further with the help of ToronTek, who graciously donated the doppler and gel, and gave us deep discounts on the oximeters.
Thanks also to Deb Uden for the donation of a BP monitor and Ramya Raghavan for the donation of a second doppler.
On January 23rd all of the items were presented while members of the Ketu North Health District were there to witness this generous gift. You won't see many smiles, because they were completely overwhelmed and take this sort of presentation very seriously.
The following morning, the local staff showed up at Abraham and Linda's house to say their personal thank yous.
We are grateful to all of you who helped make this happen!
Students who receive two hens and feed are very excited about the potential. Malnutrition and undernourishment are a very real part of life in Dekpor—no one gets sufficient protein in their diet.
Dr. Foli Mensah, who works for the Department of Agriculture at the Ketu North District assembly offices, continues to work with us.
We are grateful to the people who choose to make tribute gifts and allocate the funds to our hen programme!
We get things done! Thanks for your ongoing support!
Every year we have plenty of smaller projects or purchases that help us make life in Dekpor a little better. (As you look through the album, be sure to read the label to the upper left.)
We are grateful to everyone who helps us accomplish these important things!
It's always a fun surprise when people decide how to allocate their donations. Often times it is done as a tribute gift for someone special. This year, we had quite a number of wonderful requests—most happened in December.
Ten Solights were purchased in Canada and sent to Ghana with Linda in November. They were given to students who have absolutely no light at home and who are serious students wanting to study in the evenings. (distributed in December)
A tribute gift was made to improve all things soccer. A broken goal post was welded, new nets, practice cones, captain bands, whistles, and penalty cards were purchased. The field will be harrowed when the weather permits. It's a total overhaul for the soccer field on school campus that is used by all of our students and all of the town teams!
After a very heartbreaking situation was made known, we had many people step up to allocate money toward purchasing medical equipment and supplies. Even the most basic items are lacking at the local clinic—things that include thermometers, scales, oximeters, blood pressure monitors, a baby doppler, stethoscopes… Items were donated and purchased in Ontario and will be traveling with a teacher volunteer in January 2018.
We opted for something new this year; there were 56 huge multi-purpose metal bowls that were purchased. These are a staple for every household and are used for fetching water, gathering firewood or crops, moving soil, bathing babies, and the list goes on. (purchased and distributed in December)
We had a very generous donation given so that a large number of teacher materials could be purchased. We got 53 posters (these things are massive!), 48 abacuses, 50 compasses for math, A4 paper, and tape, wood mounting strips, and the labour to have the strips installed in the classrooms. (purchased and taken to school during December holidays and ready for the new term)
The teachers at Dekpor Basic School let Linda know in December that they were desperate to have some exercise books to be able to give to students who were coming to class without even so much as a scrap of paper. We were thrilled that a number of our followers saw just how necessary they are. (purchased in December, distributed in December and thereafter)
Communal labour town tools (5 flat shovels, 5 loader shovels, 3 pick axes, 2 adzes) have been bought. These are used very frequently and no one wants for their personal tools to be used, in case of breakage or inevitable wear. Truth is, many people don't even own any tools. This is a much better way to ensure that each man attending has the proper equipment.
We purchased 15 benches for the library with one donation, and sand toys and mats for the kindergarten classrooms with another. Someone else paid for the sandbox cover.
A donation from Quality Integrators Corporation allowed us to to do furniture repair, properly finish the white boards in the new kindergarten classrooms, and purchase padlocks, and more than 36 yards of fabric to cover all the shelves in our new kindergarten classrooms.
We are extremely excited to have been able to get so many different things! THANK YOU to each and every single person who helped make this happen!
Jason Kaptyn wanted to surprise Jonathan and Amanda for the holidays—what better way to do it than a tribute gift?! A school luncheon was held December 13th, the last day before the three week Christmas holiday break at Dekpor Basic School.
Kenke, a local traditional dish that is made with fermented maise dough balls, was on the menu! It is served with tiny fish and a hot pepper sauce. Because it is very time-consuming to make, many people of Dekpor rarely have an opportunity to eat it. The staff and students are extremely excited to enjoy such a delicacy. Linda and Abraham also got biscuits (that taste somewhat like Arrowroots) to make the meal even more of a treat.
Four students who are special to Amanda and Jonathan took leadership roles in helping with the food distribution. Just look at the smiles! It is a wonderfully appreciated gift for all the students and staff.
We've come a long way, baby! We started 'summer' vacation school back in 2012 with only 30 students attending. And now, we are over 225 students, with 11 teachers hired, for a three week period! All of our fully-sponsored students, and food-only students are enrolled. Any other Dekpor Basic School student who pays a very nominal fee can also attend.
The focus is on basic math and literacy skills. During the school year, class sizes are still mighty large. These special three weeks give valuable time with a much better teacher - student ratio. Extra time in the computer lab is another major perk!
This is a win for everyone involved—the teachers are hired for extra work and the students get extra help with core subjects.
We are able to offer summer school because of the people who sponsor children and give to the food programme. Thank you!
Until now, our kindergartens have had precious little. In 2010, the teacher had her class of 150+ students crammed on benches under a massive mango tree. She had only a chunk of chalkboard and some very low quality chalk.
Now that we finally have some dedicated kindergarten classrooms, it's time to start sourcing some teaching materials and toys.
See the photos. If you have anything that you'd like to donate that is along the lines of what you see, let us know!
Okay, so this may not be a project, but without this gorgeous 9-seater Hyundai van, DSDO wouldn't be able to operate very efficiently in Dekpor. Linda and Abraham drive all over the place for DSDO. They pick up shipped goods, they transport most of the building materials themselves, they take loads of students to events, to get their health cards, and they take secondary students to their schools. They host volunteer visitors and take them for tours. They have to drive all the way to Accra to deal with banking and, several times a week, they drive to get a signal so photos can be sent to Carol for our Facebook, website, and other social media use. They are constantly running errands to pick up needed items for either students or our building projects. It's safe to say that not a day goes by that a vehicle isn't needed!
The whole story behind how this gift came to be is worth a smile, but let's suffice to say that we are forever indebted to Susan and Tony Anderson who saw and understood the absolute necessity of DSDO having a vehicle and providing it for us. They have given to us so generously and support us in the projects we tackle. Just how do we say thanks for such a wonderful gift? We're not sure, but we are getting a kick out of the reaction of the kids and we keep sharing the fun.
What's going on in these pics? Well, the children of Dekpor have never seen their own image. Some people in Dekpor have a tiny pocket mirror, but that's about it. They've never seen their reflections! They are fascinated with the van because it is mighty shiny and they can see themselves, head to toe. From 3 - 20 years old, students gather around the van and watch themselves pose, dance, jump up and down, piggy back others, and they giggle hysterically. Such entertainment!
Thank you, Susan and Tony for a gift that will keep on giving for years to come! You've effectively allowed DSDO to keep running full tilt!
Watch the fun video (21 sec) of kids dancing in the reflection from the van:
Sewing machines are helping our students! We've had two girls finish a three year seamstress apprenticeship and go on to open their own shops this year! We're so proud of Janet and Mawuenyo!
We also have other girls in high school right now who are going to need access to a sewing machine. Although they have to have a hand crank machine for their first years in high school, once they graduate, they'll need an electric.
We'd like to thank the following people for donating sewing machines to us this year:
Note: No further machines are needed at this time.
What do we always need? LAPTOPS!!!
In the February of 2012, Linda returned from an Ontario visit with 7 donated laptops that had been collected here. At that time, we used the small storage room off of the main part of our library as a makeshift computer space. In June 2014, we finally had a real room to call a computer lab. Since that time, we've done several upgrades to the room, and we keep on collecting laptops.
We genuinely are grateful to each and every person who gives us a laptop to take to Ghana. At any given time, we have about 30 functioning computers, but there are still classes with more than 80 students, so do the math. We need more! Add to that, our secondary students now require laptops too. See the pics to find out who donated to us this year!
Remember, if you, your company, or anyone you know has a gently used laptop to donate, we will gladly accept it! Contact firstname.lastname@example.org
When we first started our work in Dekpor, there were 150 - 170 kindergarten students squished on benches under a massive mango tree—one teacher, no walls, no teaching materials other than a chunk of chalkboard. The students would show up without any paper or pencils, so they would grab a stick and practice the alphabet in the sand, day after day. Then, as we built more classrooms, the kindergarten moved inside. But, picture more than 100 students on any given day, crammed into a classroom that was never intended for that many bodies! Both scenarios were far from ideal.
We are tremendously grateful for the unparalleled donation from Tony and Susan Anderson this August that allowed us to build 4kindergarten classrooms! (We will eventually have 2 more classrooms to finish off the pod.) It has been designed such they have a separate play area from the rest of the school. Finally there will be more manageable class sizes and perhaps teachers will have the opportunity to teach using centres instead of having to stand at the board.
The building of the kindergarten classrooms was a great chance for our hardest working students to make money! It allowed DSDO to further train many of our students—especially the ones learning masonry got a genuine hands-on opportunity. Some of our students trained others to mix cement. Our older students made the blocks, while others brought water, and stacked the dry blocks.
It truly became a large group effort due to the fact that a couple of days during vacation school the entire body of students in attendance helped fill in the foundations!
The excitement generated from these rooms is palpable. It's the first time that there will be a proper learning space for our youngest learners.
Susan and Tony have ensured that our students will start Dekpor Basic School with an area designed for them and we all are extremely grateful!
Shoes. It's kind of difficult for many of us to imagine just what a big deal owning a pair of shoes could possibly be—but it is if you live in Dekpor. So many of our 800 students still have never owned a pair of shoes.
It's warm there. It's not like it snows. So what's the big deal? Well, consider glass and debris and avoiding cuts and infection. Consider parasites. How about snakes and scorpions? There's no doubt about it, shoes are needed. Unfortunately Dekpor families can't afford to buy a pair for their children or even themselves, often.
How exciting it was when we had FOUR Ontario schools jump at the challenge and agree to hold shoes drives! We'd like to thank all the students, parents, and staff who made our DSDO Fall Shoe Drive such an amazing success!
These four schools have all helped DSDO previously. They are full of students who want to make a difference! The students of Dekpor are extremely appreciative of the soccer cleats and running shoes that have been given. A genuine thanks to everyone who helped!
Please stay tuned to see the shoes once they are distributed in Dekpor!
In January we started Study Hall. What is it? A time for our oldest students (in junior high school or secondary school) to come to Dekpor Basic School's library and take advantage of LIGHT! Usually both of our librarians are there, and often classroom teachers come to help also. Students have the opportunity to gather with their peers to work on homework and get extra tutoring/assistance with their work.
When? Every week night from 6 - 8 p.m. Typically 30 - 50 students are there most evenings, and sometimes there are as many as 75 eager learners, wanting to better themselves!
DSDO, students, and teachers all agree… this new initiative has been a resounding success!
July 12, 2017 was a happy day to celebrate just before final exams started. The students and staff absolutely LOVE the special meal of kenke. Kenke is a local traditional dish that is made with fermented maise dough balls. It is served with rice, fish, and a hot pepper sauce. Biscuits, (that taste somewhat like Arrowroots) were also given as a special treat.
There were 4 local women who were hired to provide the food. Linda, Abraham, Doris, Betha, and our three DSDO-hired staff members all help with the distribution process. They've gotten mighty efficient and can have the whole school (just under 800) served in about 40 minutes!
We are very grateful to Ali Afshari who sponsored this luncheon in memory of his father, Reza Afshari. Thank you, Ali. The smiles say it all.
The students of Moraine Hills Public School did some outstanding fundraising last fall when they were taking part in our Ghana Gift Bag project. In fact, they raised enough funds to ship all their bags and had surplus to sponsor a Dekpor Basic School special luncheon! This is the eighth luncheon we've hosted… and it is an extremely exciting event for everyone!
As usual, the local women we hire to prepare food made kenke. It is a local delicacy of dumpling-like maise dough balls that is served with tiny fish and a tomato and hot pepper sauce. It takes a long time to make it, and because of that, many children never get to eat it. Face it, many children are sent to school without having had breakfast, and with little or no lunch. It is a HUGE TREAT to have such a fantastic meal provided!
A big thank you to the students, parents, and staff of Moraine Hills Public School for the donation that made this luncheon such a happy success!
Sloane Public School in Toronto is an amazing place! Apparently it is the first elementary school in Ontario, with students this young (JK - grade 5) to host a Kids Against Hunger food packaging event… and they raised enough money and provided the labour to do THREE skids of food! Unreal!
We were the lucky recipients of 33 boxes of Kids Against Hunger Food. What does that mean?
A very special thank you to Mr. Douglas Penfold who organised the event. Thank you to the students and parents for their support in fundraising. Thank you to the staff and grade 4 and 5 students for packaging all the food! Thank you to the Sloane and KAH people who stayed to help load the van!
What a gift! We are very grateful and the students of Dekpor Basic School are extremely appreciative.
We are grateful to Kinh Quach who met Carol last year at a KAH food packaging event. Kinh was the leading force behind the coming together of almost 100 volunteers who gathered this year on May 13th to participate in a Kids Against Hunger food packaging event in Milton. We are very grateful to: the 7 churches under the umbrella of Milton Area Christian Churches Working Together (MACCWT), the Rotary Club of Milton, and the Halton Multicultural Council, and of course, Kids Against Hunger Canada! These wonderful groups did extensive fundraising and provided the labour to assemble all of the meals.
We received 7128 nutritious rice casserole meals (that is 33 boxes) to distribute to our most vulnerable students at Dekpor Basic School. What a gift!
Thank you to every single person who helped make this a reality!
The students and staff are very grateful to Marzi and Kermin Byramjee for making March 29th a special day at Dekpor Basic School!
Seven local women did all the time-consuming cooking—they are always thrilled to get the extra business. They made a local delicacy, kenke. Kenke is fermented maise dough balls with fish and hot pepper sauce.
This was the seventh school luncheon that we've held in our history, and as always, it was a huge, happy event. For children who face malnourishment and undernourishment, having an occasion like this is truly a gift!
Thank you, Kermin and Marzi, for your generous donation that made this possible!
There was much excitement on January 7th as the Dekpor Dome water tower and stand pipes were officially opened! As of January, Dekpor Yia and Dekpor Dome residents have water towers and stand pipes that are a reasonable distance to walk.
Next in line? Dekpor Horme. There are a lot of trenches to dig and pipes to lay. We need to mechanize the third borehole that exists in Dekpor Yia, and purchase more pumps, and build another water tower.
This is a massive undertaking, but one step at a time, we are making progress!
November 22, 2017 will go down as an incredible day in the history of DSDO. We held the opening of the Dekpor Horme water tower and distribution pipes! We built a tower in Dekpor Horme, mechanized another borehole, put in a pump at Dekpor Dome, and laid pipes through Horme.
We are proud to announce that we just accomplished what we never thought possible. Linda and Carol were originally stuck in the 'a borehole is too big of a dream—and distribution pipes are way outta the picture' kind of thinking. The challenges were many. But, with the support of many, many people (with a couple of large donations from donors who prefer to remain anonymous), we have found ourselves shaking our heads in wonder. Three mechanized boreholes, two reverse osmosis units, water towers, and distribution pipes running through Dekpor Yia, Dekpor Dome, and Dekpor Horme. It IS a dream come true!
Clean water is now available throughout the three villages of Dekpor!
Thank you to each and every person who contributed along the way!
Thanks to a donation made via Conny and Edi Schmickl from their family and friends in Austria, we have been able to put in flower beds in front of the most of the buildings! (In front of the library and newly built 6-classroom block were previously completed.)
Why does this matter? Well, it is going to look nice for starters, but more important than that is it helps us with the erosion problems on campus.
Truly a joint project!
We've just put in 4 outdoor security lights on campus! One light was donated by the MP; 2 poles were donated by the chairman of the department of chieftancies; and a recent donation from our Austrian friends paid for three of the lights, the wiring, the switches, and the labour to install.
The townspeople, still shaken from the computer lab robbery last August, are really excited about this additional security measure!
Let there be light!
From August to December 2016, we experienced the widest outpouring of generosity imaginable. Ghana Gift Bags morphed into a project that ended up bringing together thousands of people in Ontario with one common goal—to produce 786 special presents for our very needy Dekpor students.
Companies and individuals donated drawstring bags, water bottles, baseball caps, travel-sized shampoo and body lotions. There was an incredible two van loads of new goods from Sigma Promotions, and new shorts from AYSC, 4 cases of toothbrushes from Dr. Shasha, and 48 tubes of toothpaste from Dr. Weaver. Busch Systems donated Frisbees, pencil cases and pencil sharpeners. Hilroy donated notebooks; Johnsons & Johnsons donated toothbrushes. Lee Valley gave us a discount on hand-crank flashlights. Please, as you look through the photos, be sure to read the captions. The number of people who helped gather goods is extensive!
The call was put out for industrious individuals to take on a ‘manager role’, to rally their friends or staff to participate in filling drawstring bags with essential hygiene items, school supplies, fun little surprises, and personalized notes for the students of Dekpor Basic School. The response was amazing!
To the following people, a huge thank you. These are our managers—people/schools who took on several Ghana Gift Bags:
We had SIX schools participate, which means the staff, students, and parents all joined together to make the project a success. In each case, it entailed further fundraising to cover the cost of shipping. That is a whole lot of people who chose to help the Dekpor students! We’re so grateful to each school community.
Some of our managers went above and beyond, and raised a surplus of funds for DSDO to help us ship extra items, to buy more flashlights, and to hold a couple of school luncheons. We are thrilled with the enthusiasm and generosity!
A special thank you must go to Phil Sawula who, twice, helped Carol deliver all of the barrels and boxes to the shipper. December 3rd and 17th, hundreds of pounds of amazing items travelled from Aurora to North York to embark on the journey to Ghana.
Fast forward to March 2017 when the GGBs arrived. Linda and Abraham absolutely loaded their van, twice, to deliver the goods to Dekpor.
Distribution was something else. Keep in mind, the children of Dekpor for the most part, have never had a gift given to them. Sure, since DSDO has been on the scene, they have received a pencil or notebook, or article of clothing, but, NEVER before has each student been handed a present, something to open, something that was literally bursting at the seams full of fantastic items! So many of the kids were actually stunned into silence, too shocked to even smile. Some were too overwhelmed to even squeal, they just stared in wonder. And then the kindergarten students didn’t know WHAT to do, so they sat with grins on their faces, hugging their drawstring bags and not knowing that they could dump the contents! There were gasps, shrieks of delight and fright (true story—a couple of kids were scared of the small stuffed animals!), and a whole lot of overjoyed children. Their gratitude is immeasurable.
Each Dekpor Basic School student and every sponsored secondary school student received a GGB. The teachers were treated to many wonderful items as well!
What an absolute success! What an unforgettable moment for the students! Children and parents alike keep expressing their thanks.
To every single person who helped make this Ghana Gift Bag project such a resounding triumph, we thank you.
More importantly, the children thank you!
Although we do not plan to undertake this again, we sincerely hope that those who were involved this time will continue to follow our work, and find ways to further help the people of Dekpor.
Thanks for making a difference!
**For more specific information, you can use the search feature on our Facebook page. We tried our best to thank each person/group who contributed to this most successful endeavour.
We continue to improve our hen project and are looking forward to continued expansion. Sure, there are bumps along the way, such as those hens that are accidentally hit by motorbikes, or attacked by wild dogs, but the introduction of specific inoculations last summer has greatly improved the health of the poultry. By mid-February, some students were ready to start 'paying back' DSDO with two hens.
What does this mean? We can start up more and more students with two hens and feed. Add to the donors who allocate their funds toward our hen project, and we're hoping to double our reach within this year.
We now have a viable solution to 'how do we get this to Ghana' challenge, but it is still very costly to ship. It takes plenty of organizing, sorting, effort, and time in both Ontario and in Ghana, but we are grateful when goods are donated to us.
Wanted items include:
Sometimes we do accept other items, but be sure to check with Carol first and to have funding in place to cover the cost of shipping. Contact email@example.com before you get started.
Thank you to the hundreds of people who have given—we LOVE sharing the photos!
Check out the photos to see what has arrived in Dekpor in 2017!
During the holiday season we received several unallocated donations which allowed us to discuss what would make the most impact. Last year we piloted Junior High School (JHS) texts by purchasing a set of math books. It was a resounding two thumbs up, and so we've been waiting and hoping to be able to purchase sets of books for all the other curriculum areas! Thanks to a long list of generous supporters, we have 240 new texts! These are used by all students in JHS 1, 2, and 3 and with our 'Study Hall' hours being so wonderfully attended, we are feeling confident that having these resources will greatly benefit our oldest Dekpor Basic School's students!
What is Study Hall? Every Monday - Thursday from 7 - 8:30 pm, and Sunday afternoon for three hours, we are opening up the library to JHS and secondary school students… and it's been an astounding success! There are between 70 - 90 students who show up each time! The students finally have a place WITH LIGHT to gather to work on school assignments. Let that sink in. Dekpor experiences 12 hours of dark per day. It's impossible to study in the pitch black. We're extremely grateful to have this amazing space to be able to give the students an area to gather!
Thank you to all of the people who made the purchase of so many text books possible!
We are very grateful to Busch Systems for the donation that allowed us to purchase 6 chairs, 6 desks, and have 6 cabinets made!
Last summer we built a six-room block of classrooms, and we didn't have any teacher furniture. Problem solved!
Linda and Ab had to travel a great distance to Kumasi to purchase the chairs and desks. Patrick, our local carpenter, made the cabinets. The teachers are absolutely grateful!
Thank you, Busch Systems of Barrie, for your continued support!
Cool things happen!
The Rotary District 7010 Conference took place the late October 2016… and they did a Kids Against Hunger Canada food pack. That means Rotary did some heavy duty fundraising, and then put a few hours of teamwork into assembling the packages. We received 24 boxes (that's a day's worth of nutrition for 5184 people) because Mike Selva, someone we've never met, was willing to drive from the conference at Rousseau to Richmond Hill with the boxes in his truck and meet Carol at the shipper the next morning!
Linda and Abraham were able to distribute the food late January 2017. It was given to the most needy students enrolled at Dekpor Basic School. 138 students and 6 adults received 6 bags each. What a wonderful gift!
A huge thanks to all Rotary Club members who assisted with the food packing event: your time, effort, and fundraising are very much appreciated! Thanks to Kids Against Hunger Canada for choosing to support our work again! Thanks to Mike Selva for the transportation!
Team work! We're grateful!
With a big thanks to Kim Nelson, the students and staff at Dekpor Basic School started the new year with a celebration!
Here in Ontario, Kim made tribute donations in honour of Claire, Grace, Patricia and Evelyn, so that the entire school body in Dekpor could benefit! Seven local women were hired to prepare kenke for the school luncheon. Kenke is a local delicacy: fermented maise dough balls with fish and hot pepper sauce. It takes quite a while to make, so it is a genuine treat!
This is the sixth luncheon that we've held and it was met with great excitement and anticipation. The children and teachers are so grateful to enjoy a special meal. Thanks, Kim, for giving your mom, daughters and Auntie Ev such an amazing gift!
Bicycles donated in the Greater Toronto Area are making a tremendous difference in the lives of our Dekpor students!
Imagine spending 3 hours a day just walking to and from school! That is a reality for some Dekpor students. There is very little 'spare time' in a day for any Dekpor resident. Chores begin at 5 a.m. when it's still dark, and between school, household chores, and farming, there aren't many daylight hours for anything else. With a bicycle, students can get to both school and their farm land faster. It helps immeasurably.
Bikes are changing lives and we are so grateful to those of you who have given us one. If you have a teen / adult-sized bicycle in good working condition, please contact Carol.
A warm thank you to every single person who has donated a bike! Keep spreading the word!
We were very fortunate to have had many people make donations during the holiday season and they left it up to us to decide how to spend. One thing stood out to us— find a way to specifically help women. The statistics are there to back this up: help a woman, she in turn helps her entire family.
Linda and Abraham went to a tool maker in Togo to have cutlasses and hoes designed for women (they are slightly smaller and easier for women to manipulate). We wanted to get the best we could!
The vast majority of Dekpor residents are subsistence farmers, struggling to grow enough crops to feed their family. Female-only households are the poorest of the poor. The truth is, life is particularly difficult for any woman in Dekpor, never mind for the ones who are forced to survive on their own, looking after several children, too. Helping a woman helps all of the children she looks after also.
Female representatives from each of the villages: Dekpor Yia, Dekpor Dome, and Dekpor Horme, were the ones to choose the recipients of the farming tools, selecting women from female-only households. 102 women have benefited from this wonderful gift! We already KNOW that this is something we will do again! To say they were thrilled is an understatement—don't let the lack of smiles in the photos fool you. Most have never had their photo taken and don't quite understand how a camera works. The women are so incredibly grateful!
These women have no income other than farming. One old lady showed me her old cutlass—I have no idea how she was using it at all. With no tools or very poor tools, subsistence farmers really don't stand a chance of surviving, of providing enough food for their families. Sometimes they grow enough to trade for fish (one of the only sources of protein in their diet), or to sell to get enough money to pay for their children's school fees or pencils. Many women are left with children that aren't theirs, and they do their best to look after them.
Thank you to the 17 people who contributed to this and the purchase of the JHS text books (link). This is one meaningful purchase!
In honour of Mother's Day, Carol gave a tribute gift of ten farming tools for women to her mom, Irene Sheardown! Numbers at 112 now!
Joan Ross made a tribute gift for Ashley, and another nine women received tools. Now 121 women have benefited this year!
Thanks to a donation made by Diane Young and Robert Pecile, in honour of their grand-nieces and nephews, another 31 women received either an adze or a machete!
This is our fifth and final rain harvesting system at the school compound. There are a couple of challenges in Dekpor: there isn't enough water at the school campus and erosion is a problem. How do we deal with that? Build another reservoir! We are using the roof of our newly-built block of six classrooms this time. Cylindrical in shape, the reservoir is more than 5 m (about 16 feet) deep and 5 m in diameter.
Building a reservoir is heavy, hard work. There are no backhoes to dig the hole. This venture is done with cooperation between DSDO and the townspeople. Each village plans a day of communal labour in which they are responsible for digging at least 4 ft down. This time, our older students also put in some hours of 'Citizenship practical' time, and dug a section themselves, and they also moved the soil from the reservoir site to the foundations of our future kindergarten rooms.
Then we hire a professional to make the bricks/blocks, others to build the reservoir. We have a carpenter who builds the roof of the reservoir, and a worker who specializes in gutters who installs the final piece of the whole system!
Many, many hours and many people help make a water harvesting system like this possible. We'd like to thank all the people of Dekpor Dome, Dekpor Yia, and Dekpor Horme who volunteered their time.
All of this was made possible due to a generous donation by Busch Systems! We are so grateful for their continued support!
Every year we take on a lot of small projects, and although they aren't usually big ticket items, all are important improvements to help in Dekpor.
During the holiday season, we often have tribute gifts made and this year we had a nice assortment of items chosen to help our school. We had Junior High School text books purchased… and oh, how happy the students and teachers were! There were a number of new books bought for the library and some much-desired teacher materials sourced. We had a backpack full of goods given to a lucky student. Six women were thrilled to receive their National Health insurance cards.
Thanks to everyone who made these special gifts possible!
Back in 2012, Abraham and Linda lobbied like crazy to get the government to choose Dekpor Basic School to be one of the elementary schools to receive a new building. They were successful! We were very grateful to have the additional six rooms, but at this stage of the game, they were in need of some work.
Thanks to a very generous donation from Susan and Tony Anderson this summer, we were able to take on MANY projects… and fixing up this block of classrooms was one of them. The poorly designed shutters were removed from the front (students kept banging their heads), and design blocks were put in the front, and secure bars in the back. The entire building, inside and out, was painted by our student painters.
No access to clean water. It's hard to imagine, right? With the completion of mechanizing boreholes, building a water tower and installing a reverse osmosis system, things changed in the fall of 2014, but the challenge of walking all the way there, and all the way home with a 50 pound container on one's head, several times a day, was still not an easy task. The truth is, it was too far for many people.
Phase 1 of our distribution pipes saw clean water reaching the clinic in Dekpor Dome earlier this year, and we are thrilled with the difference it's made for those who live close.
Phase 2 has us putting in pipes throughout the rest of Dekpor — through the more western and southern parts of Dekpor Yia, and throughout Dekpor Horme — we will end up with a total of 10 public & 1 private stand pipe locations in Dekpor!
And we've built another water tower at the Dome junction!
What's this mean? Countless hours will be saved. Since it is the women and children who have to fetch water, the 3 - 6 hours saved every day will hopefully be spent on school work for the students and increased time available for farming or other productive work for the women. Not only that, but the physical strain will be greatly reduced. Many suffer from headaches, neck and back pain, and it is no wonder when carrying such a heavy load on one's head for an extended period of time.
Our two generous sponsors have chosen to remain anonymous, but they know just how much we appreciate their support and the difference this will make to all the women and children who have had to endure years of wear and tear on their bodies. We also thank the citizens of Dekpor who dug the trenches to bury the pipes.
This is what we were reluctant to even dream — clean water running through all of Dekpor! BAM! Done!
There is great potential in this programme and we are continuing to meet the challenges that we've faced along the way. We now have the district vet (who works for the Department of Agriculture at the Ketu North District assembly offices) administering medication, advising and educating us.
Our fully-sponsored students are the ones piloting this project, and with the support of Dr. Foli Mensah, we are looking forward to success and expansion!
Our feathers were happily ruffled when the Lennie family decided to step up with a donation that has allowed us to improve our hen programme. We were able to buy new stock, high quality feed, medications, and pay for travel for the vet to make visits! We're clucking excited that we get to keep working on this most eggscellent project! Our gratitude to John and Janice is no yolking matter—we're ready to get crackin'!
Vacation school is an annual favourite. Yes, it's true!!! This year we ran it for only three weeks (because students really do need a little break before the new school year starts) from 8 am to 12:30 pm, Monday to Friday.
We were bursting at the seams with 300 students signed up! DSDO paid the wages of 7 teachers to run the classes, an additional 4 teachers were hired using admission fees, and this year we had an added bonus because six amazing Ontario outreach teacher volunteers were there too! All of our fully sponsored and food sponsored children are automatically enrolled… and the balance were students who paid a nominal fee to attend.
There were secondary students who chose to volunteer to help the classes run more smoothly by distributing supplies and assisting in the computer room.
A very special thank you to Alvarine, Alan, Craig, Linda, Tom, and Ziya, who undoubtedly have left their mark and enriched the lives of the students, the teachers of Dekpor Basic School and the parents!
What a huge success!
It's a crappy job, but it has to be done!
The students' toilets at Dekpor Basic School are basically like out houses, but with two pits in each cubicle. They are called KVIP toilets (you can Google that!). In January of 2013, we did some major repairs and maintenance, and switched from one side of the pit to another in each cubicle, but at this point in time the pits needed to be emptied.
We chose a time between the end of vacation 'summer' school and the start up of the new school year when the students and staff were not on campus.
It's an important part of maintenance… and we're thankful to our special sponsors who made this possible.
We've just been able to do something completely unexpected!
Pavilion 1 was built in 2014. Pavilions 2 & 3 were just done in June of this year. A pavilion is a permanent structure, but lacks the security bars in the windows and shutters at the back of the building, the design block windows in the front, a door, and the walls being parged and painted inside and out.
Thanks to a very generous donation from our friends Susan and Tony, we are able to do many projects this summer. Turning the pavilions into classrooms is just one of them!
What is great about finishing a pavilion into a completed classroom is that the furniture can STAY in the room, the door can be locked, the few supplies that exist are kept untouched, the shutters can be closed to stop the torrential rains from coming into the rooms, and the general sense of pride of sitting in a brand new classroom.
The parents, students, teachers, and headmaster are all excited about the transformation of these three rooms!
For years we've grappled with goods in Ontario and HOW to get them to Ghana without spending an arm and a leg. Thankfully, we found ourselves a reputable shipper who specializes in sending containers to Ghana. We piloted our first barrel in October of 2015 and it arrived safe and sound in December. Since that first guinea pig run, we've been sending all sorts of things! AYSC has supplied an astronomical number of items, including: soccer uniforms, t-shirts, back packs, water bottles, soccer balls, and trophies. We're thrilled to be receiving bicycles, laptops, clothing, shoes, soccer cleats, and even a trumpet! (Yes, we really DO want trumpets and trombones!) Sometimes items go on a flight with one of our travellers (Linda or any of our volunteers) and sometimes they take the two month trek in a shipping container— but either way, once they arrive in Ghana, the fun begins! Take a look! From the solar lights to the Kids Against Hunger food, there are plenty of happy smiles from the people of Dekpor as they receive the gifts from Ontario!
Karen Burke has done it for the third time! That's right, Karen has been responsible for 3 of the 5 special luncheons that have been held at Dekpor Basic School. All of the students and staff are thrilled to have the chance to eat a delicious meal of kenke. (It's a local delicacy that takes quite a long time to prepare. It's basically fermented maise dough balls with fish and hot pepper sauce.)
Linda and Abraham have managed to come up with a way to organize this so the distribution of food to all 800 students goes relatively quickly and smoothly.
Everyone is grateful for the opportunity for fellowship and food!
What a lovely way to celebrate the end of the school year… with full tummies and smiles of gratitude.
Due to our largest donation ever, we found ourselves in the wonderful position of being able to do more than expected this summer! What's that mean? Well, we received enough to build the last three classrooms of our latest six classroom block, and instead of just leaving them at 'pavilion' stage, we are finishing them complete with design block windows on the front, security bars and shutters on the back, doors, and with walls fully parged and painted. What's even better? We are able to finish Pavilions 1,2 & 3 to the same extent so now they, too, can be considered 'classrooms'.
At Dekpor Basic School, many rooms have 60 - 140 students crammed into them… and these are classrooms that were intended for groups of 30. It is not conducive to productive learning when there are too many children. What an amazing difference this will make being able to utilize three more classrooms!
We are so very grateful to Susan and Tony who have made this possible! Your generosity is unparalleled!
It takes a whole lot of trips and a crazy amount of time and patience to get 800 students to and from (some several times) to Agorve or Dzodze to get their health cards renewed. But—Linda and Abraham get it done!
The students of Dekpor Basic School have been very fortunate since the opening of the local clinic in 2014, because Busch Systems has paid for health cards for all of the students who are not fully sponsored and not on our food programme.
As much as parents know it is wise to sign up, they simply can not afford to do it for themselves nor their children. Now understand, we're talking close to 700 students who were helped by Busch Systems in 2014 and 2015. And 2016 was to be no different. We again received a generous donation to cover the fees—but in April we got heart breaking news.
Out of the blue, National Health Insurance fees increased by five times. As Linda and Carol were struggling with HOW to decide which students would be covered and which 480 would not, Craig Busch wiped our worries away. Busch Systems stepped in with an additional huge donation to ensure every student at Dekpor Basic is covered again this year!!! Unreal!
We simply are blown away by the sheer generosity and compassion of Craig and the incredible team of people at Busch Systems. Check them out… it's a company with great products and lots of heart!
National Health Insurance allows students to be seen by health professionals at our local clinic or at the closest hospital. We've had countless children treated for malaria—their lives saved—all because they have this precious card.
Saving lives. We're grateful!
Erosion at the school campus is a real challenge. Not having enough water to service all of our students is also a problem. How do we solve both? Build a rain harvesting system. Our newly extended library has quite the roof and we're now taking advantage of it to collect all the rain that hits it! How does it work? Rain runs down the roof, into gutters, through a downspout into a huge water reservoir that is mainly built underground. The diameter is about 15 feet across… and it's about 15 feet deep! That's a lot of water!
Building a reservoir is incredibly hard, back-breaking work. Just take a look at the album and see for yourself. There are no modern tools or machinery. Communal labour helps with the digging. Students also do their part, moving the dirt away from the work site.
We are so grateful to our amazing donors for making this rain harvesting system possible: Richmond Rose Public School in Richmond Hill, Aurora Preparatory Academy in Aurora, and Brigitte Baumgartner of Austria. A lot of different fundraising activities made this possible.
Thank you for your wonderful support!
June 28, 2016— Linda and Abraham went to Weta Secondary School to pick up the result of student work. With funds from our Austrian friends, Racketlon Federation Austria, Edi Schmickl, Dr. Conny Schmickl and friends and family, we contracted out a little carpentry job.
Construction and design students in the technical section of the secondary school find that there are limited funds for materials to do practicals. The teacher and the students were very happy to be able to do some real hands on work! The result? 20 beautiful benches to be used in our library extension/ meeting room! This was a win - win situation for sure!
Our local Dekpor Basic School students painted the benches. Again, they are learning a skill that, without DSDO, they wouldn't otherwise have.
Many thanks to our generous donors as well as to the students and staff of Weta Secondary Technical School!
Ok, so imagine trying to fix something or make something… but you have no tools. A bit difficult, right?
Well, that has been DSDO's situation and we've decided to start changing that.
One of our goals is to train someone to fix bicycles IN Dekpor. Right now, Abraham drives to Dzodze and finds a man who is able to tune up the bikes. (At least we're now going to try to get the initial tune ups done in Canada first.) And goodness knows, there are plenty of other things that could be fixed if we had the tools.
We purchased 4 tool kits from Canadian Tire (screwdrivers, wrenches, pliers, and sockets). An extremely generous donation from Jim Tyler has put us in the amazing position of now owning a totally brand new stocked bicycle repair and maintenance kit! Yay Jim!!! We've also had some tools donated by Jim Sheardown and we're happy to expand our collection.
We're just going to keep searching for deals and accepting donations… so if you have something to contribute, let us know!
Started June 2016
We are beyond thrilled that Pavilions #2 & 3 are getting built at the same time and will be functional before the beginning of the 2016 - 2017 school year! Our contractors worked at an amazing pace!
We received a very generous, unallocated donation this spring from a supporter who prefers to remain anonymous, so it was an easy decision to build more areas for our students! Overcrowding is still a huge challenge. Our goal is to have a total of six rooms in a row, and now we're halfway there!
Namaste, my friend. We are so grateful!
Electricity made its way to Dekpor in 2011. But, many people in Dekpor do not have their house wired, or if they do, it could be that they tried having electricity and then discovered the bills were too expensive. And if someone DOES actually have electricity, usually that means one electrical socket and one bare light bulb hanging from the roof.
There aren't street lights. Dekpor is pretty close to the equator, so that means there are about 12 hours of dark/day.
Imagine the challenge our students face: they go to school, have DSDO-sponsored tutoring after school hours, head home or to the farming plot to help with chores, have their dinner… and then it's dark! HOW can they possibly do homework?
We decided to try piloting LuminAID lights. They were relatively inexpensive, they were easy to pack into Linda's luggage, they use lithium-ion rechargeable batteries and can handle hundreds of recharge cycles, and are designed to last many years of continued use.
On June 26, 2016, the Assemblyman and his committee joined Linda and Abraham as they distributed lights to those he deemed most in need. To say these wonderful gifts lit up many a face would be an understatement! 30 lucky families now are thrilled to have light!
A big thank you to our donors who made this possible: EveLyn, Chris, Nancy, and Danielle and another thank you to Jim and Irene Sheardown for getting them to Ontario!
Now THIS is cool!
To start things rolling, the Rotary Club of Scarborough (with a special shout out to Gerard Baribeau) and Joseph Brant Public School (Mrs. My-Linh Hang-Coleman leading the way) both had done an impressive amount of fundraising — over $6400! (22% by JBPS and the rest by RCoS) With that money, they chose to host a food packing event, facilitated by Kids Against Hunger Canada. We were so thrilled to be one of the three chosen charities!
April 16, 2016 was an exciting day! What a sight to get to witness and participate in such an organized, kind display of helping others. Many Rotary Club of Scarborough members, Joseph Brant Public School students, and community members volunteered at the food packing event and put in a long day. The three assembly lines were running like clockwork, and in the end, 99 boxes of food were packaged.
We received 30 of those boxes. In each box is 36 bags of food. In each bag is a day's worth of nutrition (which is vitamin-fortified) for six people. Do the math… that is 6480 meals!
Carol took the boxes from the Guildwood Presbyterian Community Church directly to our shipper.
The Assemblyman and his committee came up with a food distribution plan and on June 26th, Linda, Abraham and the crew set out to give it to the most needy families. They traveled by van, by motorbike and by foot. The recipients are all people who struggle on a daily basis to secure enough food for the day. Malnourishment is a way of life. But for now? Such smiles! So grateful!
We are deeply thankful to everyone who made this gift of food possible to the families of Dekpor.
Bicycles are making an astounding difference for many students! We started this initiative by purchasing bikes in Ghana, but then discovered shipping donated bicycles from Ontario was a much better solution (cheaper and better quality).
A bike allows a Dekpor student an efficient mode of transportation to get to their high school in Weta. It's about a 25 minute ride, one way, so walking takes at least three times longer than that! There is NO secondary school in Dekpor—Weta is the closest.
All of our sponsored high school students were the first to receive a bicycle last fall, when we purchased bikes in Ghana. We have started working our way down the line in order of grade level—and will continue to do so. We also decided that it was an important piece of equipment for Doris and Betha to sell their soap around town, and for Philip to start up his farming operation.
Just look at the smiles…
Bikes from Ontario are making a difference! A huge thanks to all of our donors. If you have a teen-sized bicycle in good working condition, contact Carol.
In November 2015, the lovely Becky and Madi decided to celebrate their 13th birthday and do something WOW. Instead of birthday gifts for themselves, they asked their party invitees to make a cash donation to split equally between their grade 8 graduation and Dekpor School Development Organisation.
An amazing $862.50 came to DSDO! The twins carefully allocated the funds, and chose to buy some goods AND to host a celebration from afar!
On April 1st, 2016, 800 students and staff from Dekpor Basic School were delighted with the special luncheon!
A huge thank you to Madi and Becky, their parents Sabrina and Rob, the members of their ringette team, and students from both Highview Public School and Mount Albert Public School. Enjoy looking at these photos. ..you made 800 students and the hard working teachers very, very happy today!
Giving and compassion at its best!
Back in 2014, we were thrilled to have completed our biggest dream at the time: mechanizing two boreholes, building a water tower, and installing a reverse osmosis system. It is wonderful to have CLEAN water, yet the challenge remained—not everyone lives close by. Many of the containers used to hold water weigh upwards of 50 pounds (20 kg) when full and it is painful for the women and children to walk long distances with this weight on their heads.
For Phase 1, distribution pipes were run from the water tower through the main stretch of Dekpor Yia to the health clinic in Dekpor Dome! There are now standpipes at the community centre in Yia, the Dome junction, and the clinic. There were also 5 households that paid to have a standpipe put in at their family compound.
We get things done! Thanks for your ongoing support!
Watch our video: Dekpor School Development Organisation's 2015 Accomplishments
Linda took more soccer clothes with her as she left Ontario and returned to Ghana. We continue to use the donations from AYSC as incentive prizes at Dekpor Basic School, as a thank you for helping with odd jobs, and most importantly, to give to those who are in great need of clothing. We also had a donation of lanyards which are coming in handy for the student cards that the kids are expected to carry on them!
We made some purchases with allocated donations… in fact these were Christmas 2014 and birthday tribute presents! The Aurora Book Club donated so that we could purchase Ghanaian-written books for our library. Erica's successful Indiegogo birthday campaign saw $425 allocated to student and teacher supplies. And Kim also made generous Christmas gift donations to allocate $400 to student supplies! Jean's birthday gift also allowed us to buy student supplies! Yahoo!
Ken Glance, our most dedicated volunteer teacher, lugged over 100 lbs of shoes that were collected at Highview Public School. The children are so grateful to be able to own a pair of shoes!
We had some covers made for our laptops, to help keep out the dust.
More goods from Ontario made it to Dekpor. It was mainly shoes from Highview Public School in Aurora.
We had our first guest speaker come. More than 240 of our grade 5 to junior high school 3 students gathered in the courtyard to listen to Madam Philipine, a former teacher and the present Ketu North District guidance and counselling officer. It was AWESOME!!! She expressed the need to study, to discover one’s own inner drive, the value of technical, vocational and apprenticeship training, and making realistic plans for the future. This is precisely what our Dekpor students need to know. Many are resigned to thinking that the most they will ever be able to do is farm… and then there are others with very unrealistic hopes. We want our kids to do their best, finish to the end of JHS3 at Dekpor Basic, and then make wise choices that will allow them to start breaking the cycle of poverty. We are so thankful to Madam Philipine for her visit. She has given valuable information for the students to consider!
Also in July, we resurfaced the volleyball court. It is a prized focal point of the school and the town… and so we want to keep it in tip top shape!
The Headmaster of Weta Secondary School came and talked to our oldest students, giving them an idea of what to expect if they somehow find themselves able to continue their education. Usually lack of finances dictates no. Also in August we made some bookends for the library. A small project, but it helps keep things looking neater.
Carol and Dani visited AYSC in Aurora and received an enormous amount of donated jerseys, shorts, socks and used soccer balls! A van full! We are so grateful for the ongoing support of the Aurora Youth Soccer Club!
We shipped our first barrel of goods (see the photos) in the fall and it arrived in December, and we sent another shipment late November and it is due to arrive early next year. We also had one of our former volunteers, Kelly, take an extra suitcase of ‘things’ for us at Christmastime too. West Jet donated shirts, and Linda and Ab took them to Weta Secondary School where the choir and band were excited to receive them!
We had several volunteers sell bracelets this year—so a big thank you goes out to Becky ($297), John and Pippa ($290), Louise ($185) and David ($312).
Throughout the entire year, our staff does after school tutoring. It is a great way for students to get extra help.
Every little bit makes a difference!
Our new catalogue is a hit! We are thrilled that people are choosing items that suit the personalities of the recipients!
Take a look at some of the things that have been bought.
December 16th was a BIG day at Dekpor Basic School. While the entire student body and staff were gathered for a luncheon funded by Karen Burke, DSDO had some extra surprises in store. And… as Linda describes it, both students and teachers alike were jumping with joy!
On a daily basis, there are many children who go to school without a lunch. To be able to share food with all of their school mates is a genuine treat! The teachers were just as happy as the children to be able to partake in a celebratory meal, eating delicious kenke. It is a local specialty, and requires quite a bit of time to make. As a result, there are plenty who rarely ever get to eat it. We are very grateful to Karen who has made yet another school luncheon possible.
Back in Ontario, Becky and Madi's 13th birthday party raised a lot of money for DSDO. The twins carefully allocated their funds and allowed us to purchase a pencil (for kingergarten to grade 3) or pen for every student in the school. They also are responsible for half of the notebooks handed out to the students. Annnnd they allocated funds to the 5 brand new, good quality soccer balls and a sport whistle! Madi and Becky sure know how to make a lot of people happy to celebrate their birthday!
Kim made a donation for her mom, in honour of her dad, and we got the other 300 notebooks needed so that every student in the school has one. Yippee! Never before has every student been given a pencil and notebook.
But, that's not all!
Dagmara and Ezra made a donation on behalf of Mr. Ciarello and Mrs. Murja, Andrea and Laura made a donation for Carol, and Heather gave Craig a gift of DSDO too… The teacher table held packs of pens, whiteboard markers, 3 power bars for the computer lab, and notebooks.
We are so very thankful for these special donations. Tribute giving is awesome!
September 25, 2015, hundreds gathered in Dekpor for the official commissioning of not one, but three big projects! There was a lot of excitement as speakers thanked the hard work of those involved and explained the importance of each project. The library extension is the only indoor area in Dekpor that can hold a large crowd and we're thrilled to be using it during the school days for student-use and after hours for guest speakers, meetings and learning sessions. Dekpor Dome Town Toilet facility is complete with its own rain harvesting system and hand-washing stations. Dekpor Yia's Town Toilet facility was initiated by the town, but the completion was overseen and funded by DSDO.
The town members were encouraged to use the toilet facilities consistently to help the entire town to decrease communicable diseases and improve general hygiene and sanitation.
Linda and Abraham presented each town with tools to be used for communal labour. They also presented the town volleyball team with a new ball as a thank you.
After the formal commissioning, the invited dignitaries from the district government toured all three sites and had an opportunity to ask questions. They were all impressed with the work that Dekpor School Development Organisation accomplished.
A wonderful day to celebrate amazing achievements!
This is another DSDO major renovation project!
There was a town toilet facility built in Dekpor Horme, looong before Linda arrived. Problem? It had never been maintained. Never.
December 2015 we decided that we could forge ahead with the renovations. Step one was to clean out the old vaults.
To bring it in line, quality-wise, with our other town toilet facilities we are converting the design so that a pumper truck will be able to remove the waste when necessary; replacing the roof and fascia; and adding a rain water harvesting system, hand washing stations, storage closet and a kiosk for the attendant.
Work started December 2015
This project is a little different, in that Dekpor Yia had their town toilet 'in the works' when Linda first arrived. But what that really meant is they had chosen a location and were trying to save money, but work had not commenced. Over the years, only a tiny bit had been done. It was determined that they didn't have the resources or expertise to continue or complete the job. So in 2015, DSDO was asked to help with financing, and the management and supervision of the construction work. We are very grateful to Ben, who went above and beyond to make sure that the construction was completed properly.
Their plan is not the same as the one we designed for Dome. They relied heavily on communal labour, far more than usual, in order to complete the project. DSDO also wanted to make sure that it was managed properly and set up for success, so we have included a rain harvesting system, hand washing stations and an area for the attendant.
We are thrilled that the Rotary Club of Aurora has financed this wonderful project! The townspeople of Yia are extremely excited that a second town toilet facility is being built. When you gotta go, no one wants to walk several kilometers, so this is the second of three facilities that Yia will have.
This is our design complete with: 10 cubicles, a rain harvesting system, hand washing stations, a storage closet and a kiosk for the attendant.
Started December 2015
Our fully-sponsored students and the children who are part of the food programme spend 5 weeks after regular classes end in our 'vacation school'. We hired 6 teachers again this year and they are focussing on math and literacy skills. This is a fantastic chance for the children to get some extra individual attention. Usually class sizes are rather huge, but at summer school they are capped at 20. The kids truly enjoy this chance to improve their skills… and it happens because of our generous sponsors!
Wow, are we ever excited about the potential of this project!
We are building a rather substantial 60 foot/18 metre extension to our existing library. This addition will allow us to not only house more books and have more classroom space, but our biggest goal is to continue educational opportunities with all Dekpor residents—students and adults. We want to use the library to hold meetings, information sessions, workshops and a variety of experiences that will benefit everyone. Right now there is no space in the village where large groups can meet inside after the sun goes down. Being a farming community, the daylight time is precious for farmers to attend to their crops. At night, the mosquitoes are out, there is no large lit space, and rainy seasons don’t allow for outdoor meetings either!
We have so many areas in which we want to further educate and inform people. We already have plans to have nurses, agricultural department representatives, inspirational speakers, and guidance counsellors come to share their knowledge. Cultural learning is also very important so that traditions can be passed from one generation to the next. There are countless topics that will make an impact: from hygiene to nutrition, crop rotation to immunizations. There are many experts who can share information to benefit the people of Dekpor. We are very excited about the opportunities to educate everyone!
This extension was initiated after a wonderfully generous donation was made by Joyce Wilson.
Subsequent donations from the Rotary Club of Aurora, Richmond Rose Public School, Kempenfelt Rotary Club and various unallocated donations from our 2015 supporters have made it possible for us to carry on this important project! Thank you to everyone for your support!
Sanitation and hygiene. We are saving lives and we’ve figured out a great way to make the most of it! We're building our first block of town toilets (we need 5 in total); we're building town hand washing stations at the toilets. We need soap. Hmm, no one local makes soap. Linda and Abraham found out about NEWIG, a wonderful NGO that specializes in training and empowering women. We have three JHS graduates who, on July 1, 2015, made their way to Tefle. For $250 each, these young women will live away from home and enjoy the intensive 3 months of training… and then be able to return to Dekpor with the knowledge to make a living for herself and her family.
The training encompasses the following disciplines:
The training period is for 3 months with classes from Mondays to Fridays from 7:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.
We are very thankful to our generous donors. We had one person step up to pay for the training of two of the girls, and a group of 4 people pooled their donations to enable us to send the third.
On July 1st, Linda and Abraham drove the girls to Tefle and got them settled in. As an added bonus, their moms and a few siblings were able to go to drop off the very excited young ladies and tour the grounds.
Toilets. No one really wants to talk about a crappy topic… but they should!
Open defecation is a very real problem in Dekpor. People simply do not have any sort of toilet or outhouse facility to use. We are changing that! This is the first of five proposed town toilets and we are absolutely thrilled to be able to start this project! It's a big undertaking. It's really expensive! We had 2 anonymous donors step up and choose to fund this for us!
What is it? We're building a 10-seater facility. 5 cubicles on one side for women, 5 on the other side for men.
We're also building hand-washing stations.
There is also a rain harvesting system, so the water needed to keep the tank at the right level, and for the hand-washing stations is right there on site.
There will be an attendant at a kiosk. Yep, this is how it works. People pay to use the toilet/purchase their toilet paper. The funds gathered pay the wages of the attendant, the toilet paper, the upkeep and maintaining the toilet and pumping out the tank when necessary.
Before we open our doors for business, there will need to be some extensive education about the proper use of the toilets.
What a difference this will make!
Check out our video of the completed toilets.
This is 'eggscellent'!!!
There is a lot of excitement about our latest project! In May 2015, we chose 15 children who have the space and desire to give this a whirl! 11 of the students started with two hens, and four of them started with just one. It is a big responsibility for a child to build a hutch, feed their hens, keep track of them (they wander the town part of the day), and monitor the eggs and chicks.
The goal is for each family to have a supply of eggs, since sources of protein are scarce. And then, of course, when the time comes, they will have fresh poultry too.
We really hope this is a success, because we already have others asking if they too could give it a try! We are thankful to the donors who helped get this off the ground!
As part of our annual child sponsorship renewal, we have made purchasing two hens for their student an option.
Thanks to Busch Systems, we are able to renew the National Health Insurance cards for all of our non-sponsored students at Dekpor Basic School! It is a huge undertaking to renew the cards. We had approximately 430 done the first day, and then 160 kindergarten students done the second day!
We need to wait until May for the rest to be updated.
With the town clinic up and running, having National Health Insurance is a huge gift!
Our biggest dream has become reality!
Dealing with the challenge of providing Dekpor with clean water has been quite the task! Much research, time, and planning has gone into this huge, yet necessary project.
We tried drilling 3 times, hoping to find a new desirable location that would give enough good pure water, but no such luck.
We ended up being able to utilize 2 old borehole sites, mechanize and go from there.
The water requires a reverse osmosis system, which we’ve also supplied. Trenches were dug to bury pipes to bring the water from the boreholes to the water tower, and to take the run-off water away from the R/O unit.
This is a collaboration of efforts and donations from literally all over! We are very proud of this amazing accomplishment.
Next steps include piping water to various distribution sites.
We are continuously taking on projects: some are big, some small… but all make a difference.
Now, located at a 15 minute walk from school, there is a clinic with three nurses. This is the first time that health care has ever been accessible for the residents of Dekpor!! The nurse practitioners dispense medicine for simple things like malaria, but refer patients to the hospital in Dzodze for more severe ailments. They treat injuries, minor infections, and do community work educating people about hygiene, child care, inoculation and a variety of other health-related topics.
Dekpor School Development Organisation provided a donation to pay for necessary furniture for the clinic so it could open. We purchased 3 desks, 6 chairs, and had shelving units and 2 benches made.
What a wonderful difference this will make for Dekpor!
Shoes are important!
Shoes protect the feet from the obvious cuts and scrapes that can occur, but also: hook worms, strongyloidiasis, sand fleas, erysipelas, sepsis, callouses, and tetanus. And yet, most Dekpor Basic School students do not own a pair. Lucky children wear flip flops that are expected to last for years.
In the fall of 2014, we held a shoe drive. The Leadership Team encouraged Minesing Central Public School to collect over 200 lbs in just 4 days! Highview Public School's Eco Team lead the collection in Aurora and collected enough shoes to fill two large suitcases. Busch Systems of Barrie also collected 30 lbs of shoes for us.
The children and parents are so grateful! Thank you to every single person who donated a pair!
All of our fully-sponsored students and also the children who are on the food programme attend 5 weeks of vacation school during August after the regular school year has ended. It is an opportunity for the kids to have a lower student: teacher ratio, and focus on math and literacy skills. The children are grateful for this extra opportunity to improve their skills!
We were able to hire 6 of our DSDO teachers to instruct the classes! A win-win situation!
ICT is on the curriculum, and it's mighty tough to pass an exam when students had never even SEEN a computer! We introduced our first laptops to the school in February 2012, and decided to use one of the tiny storage rooms in the library as our makeshift computer lab. With only 7 laptops, we were able to cram them in and make do.
In the spring of 2012, the government finished building a 6-room block that included what they called a 'computer library'. This much-needed building was constructed due to Linda and Abraham lobbying like crazy to make it happen! It was 'completed' but there was no electricity put in, and it was not finished the way classrooms are here in Canada. We used it as a classroom until June 2014, at which point, Linda and Abraham donated what was needed to make the room functional as a computer lab, in order to accommodate the 18 computers we presently have.
The work included:
As we acquire more laptops, we will need to expand our resources in the computer lab, but for now we are happy to have space and a functioning room! This is very exciting!
Note: We are always looking for donations of gently used laptops that are in great shape. If you are in Ontario, please contact Carol.
Thanks to very generous donations from both Lucy Romyn and Timothy Romyn, friends from the UK, we have built our first pavilion classroom. What is it? Well, the photos really explain it.
It consists of the foundation, the floor, the pillars, the lintels, 2 end walls and then it is roofed. The other walls, doors and windows are not completely done. It doesn't have the top coat, and it isn't painted. Later, when more funds are available, we'll be able to complete it, but for now it will give a comfortable sheltered space from the sun and rain. It is the beginning of a permanent building. The truth is, we went a bit further than a typical pavilion room, because the gable ends are bricked all the way to the roof.
Eventually, we want to build an additional 5 pavilion rooms that will be in a row, in order to accommodate all the students who are enrolled at the school. One step at a time!
Completed June 2014
Thanks to a generous donation from Racketlon Austria, Edi Schmickl, Conny Schmickl and family and friends, we are able to further boost the morale of our staff. Our teachers are thrilled to finally have a chair and desk to call their own! There were 6 desks at the school that we have had the carpenter repair, and we purchased 18 new desks and 31 chairs are being made. A big thank you to our Austrian friends!
We are extremely thrilled to announce that Busch Systems has made a life-saving donation that will enable us to register the balance of our Dekpor Basic School students on national health insurance! (Children who are sponsored and those on the food programme are already registered. Of the remaining, as long as they can provide their birth date, then they can be registered.) We held two sign up days in March 2014, and the third will take place later this school year.
There are now three nurses, (who are considered community health workers), at the clinic. They will be very involved with the school, giving hygiene and sanitation lessons, and from there we hope to branch out.
The clinic is about a 15 minute walk north of the school. Having medical care close by has NEVER been available to the people of Dekpor. Receiving any sort of health care, for the most part, has been completely out of reach for the majority. But now, eventually, it will become recognized that trained professionals can make a difference.
With the health card, our students are eligible for free malaria medication, basic antibiotics and de-worming medicine, which are the most needed drugs, and the visit is also covered by the insurance. They will also have free access to doctors at the hospital in Dzodze for more serious medical concerns.
Thanks to a generous donation from Busch Systems, we now have a first aid kit, with some medical supplies and basic medicine, and an emergency fund to assist those who desperately need help.
Within the first couple of days that Linda returned to Dekpor with the supplies early in 2014, they were put in use. And, with a badly cut finger, one of our students needed a trip to the clinic.
It is a relief to have some way of helping those in need!
Our teachers have NEVER had a proper surface to share lessons and notes with the students. Think about JUST how LIMITING that is. They are already challenged by huge class sizes and no teaching materials… and then just to make it more of a struggle, they've had to use a makeshift solution—chalkboard paint applied to the rough handmade blocks. The paint and the chalk itself are both of poor quality. Since there are no lights in the classrooms, the writing on the "chalkboards" is really difficult to see. It's very frustrating.
Thanks to a donation by Busch Systems, we are upgrading! Two whiteboards are now in each class. It is much easier for teachers to write, for students to see, and it cuts down on the dust! Having "modern materials" also gives a much needed morale boost for both the instructors and learners alike.
We have lots of students, but a lack of classrooms. In fact, our reputation is getting around… the enrollment is up to 740 this year!
DSDO is responsible for hiring 9 of the Dekpor Basic School teachers this year (2013-14), bringing the total staff number to 25 (which includes our headmaster and librarian). To use the teachers most effectively, each one needs their own space for their class. Building 'outdoor classrooms' is a way to give shelter but keep costs way down.
The weather has challenged us. After experiencing two poor growing seasons in a row, finding the thatch for the roof proved to be far more difficult than usual, and so it has taken longer than projected to complete the rooms. In January, although not fully completed, we started putting them to use.
Linda’s words: "I actually quite like them! They have a cozy feeling."
What do we NEED??? 7 – 9 more standard classrooms.
Thatched rooms completed March 2014
Our teachers do their best with precious little. Before, they had never had copies of the full curriculum… now they do. We are putting together subject-related kits so that there are some basic resources at the school. It's a small start, but at least now teachers can model and students can see. We know that children learn better by doing… but now they can watch a demonstration instead of relying on looking at photographs in a text book. Our goal is to continually build on these resources.
Imagine not owning a protractor, never having held one, yet being expected to know how to bisect angles. Now that there is a large scale protractor for the teachers to use, the students can watch the teacher modelling the method. Some will be able to come up to the board and try it also. It's a step in the right direction.
A big thank you to Busch Systems for getting the tech, science, math, music and phys ed kits started! The teachers are thrilled; the students are excited!
If you have something that could be used, be sure to contact Carol. We gratefully accept donations!
Started February 2014
It is hard to imagine teaching 80 or more students at a time, every day, with no assistance. Now to make matters worse, try doing that without teaching materials, supplies, furniture…
This year a priority has been to help give teachers some very basic supplies, but alas, they had NO WHERE close by to put them! Through a generous donation by Busch Systems, we have been able to build and paint 18 cabinets and equip them with locks. Our carpenters did the construction, the students assisted with the sanding and painting. We are able to make this part of their tech studies.
The teachers are so happy to finally have a place to put materials. Seems like a small thing… but it is huge when you’ve never had a space of your own before!
Completed – January 2014
We get things done! Thanks for your ongoing support!
In 2011, the Ghanaian government promised that there would be no more classrooms under trees and set out on an ambitious building programme for primary and junior high schools. Dekpor Basic was NOT slated for the first wave of building, but with some insistent nudging from the headmaster, chief, and Linda and Abraham, we managed to get lucky. It is the largest building in our school compound and consists of 6 classrooms, a large room that is intended as a computer lab, an office and a storage room. It houses our lower primary students. The building was completed late in the fall of 2012.
DSDO added gutters (so we could harvest rain water), lights, security windows, locks, and additional electrical outlets for the computer lab to be functional, and outdoor security lights.
Consider this…there was almost NOTHING at Dekpor Basic. There was no electricity until 2011, the teachers had crumby chalk; the dilapidated classrooms had some desks. Over the years, we’ve been working to add things, a bit at a time, that make the school safer, better looking, more functional, and that improve the teaching and learning environment.
We’ve taken photos of some of the things that we’ve put in place over the past year:
Picture a building splitting right open, cracks from top to bottom. The photos show it all. The admin building was not well-constructed to start with, but it was built far before our time, and as far as we’re concerned, we want to maintain what we have as best as possible!
With torrential rains on their way, the building would NOT have made it through the rainy season! Needless to say, we repaired the administration building quickly!
In August 2013, three wonderful Barrie companies: Busch Systems, BDO and Barriston Law, all took part in the Barrie Dragon Boat Festival and raised funds for Dekpor School Development Organisation. Between them, they raised $9,325.50, and those funds were directed towards our various water initiatives.
Harvesting rain water is a smart thing to do!
We are taking advantage of a natural resource AND helping prevent erosion and property damage on the school site. Before we could get started, we needed to have gutters put on the front and back lower level of our newest block of classrooms in order to catch the rain.
This is our third reservoir, so our team is getting good at this! Students helped this time, by starting the digging. To help one of our other concurrent projects, they also moved the dirt to the volleyball court to level the area. We had three groups of communal labour, each day from a different part of the village. We put our new school ladders to use too! As you can see from the photos, the work is tough, the hole is deep, and there is no modern equipment to make the job easier. For the men, it was three full days, from the break of dawn right until it was dark.
The blocks were made by hand, the mason needed three weeks to do his part, and our carpenter finished by doing the roof and connecting the gutters to the reservoir. It’s ready in time for our next rainy season.
Completed March 2014
In August 2013, three wonderful Barrie companies: Busch Systems, BDO and Barriston Law, all took part in the Barrie Dragon Boat Festival and raised funds for Dekpor School Development Organisation. Between them, they raised $9,325.50, and those funds were directed towards our various water initiatives.
In Dekpor, just finding ANY water can be a struggle depending on the season. At school, the cleanest water our students have is the harvested rain water that we collect in reservoirs. This water is FAR cleaner than what families fetch from the stream, but we want to provide the best we can, raise awareness, educate, and take steps towards our ultimate goal—to dig a borehole/well that will service the village.
This particular project, the filtered water stations, entails many steps.
In December 2013 we had the Sawyer filter representative come from Accra to do a presentation for the staff and various local dignitaries. To make a long story short, everyone was shocked to see visibly dirty water go in…and pristine clean water come out—MAGIC! These filters were first marketed to suit the American camping crowd, to purify water from a lake or stream. It soon became apparent that there was a real use for them in developing countries where the typical streams are full of a far greater number of bacteria and diseases.
We chose two sites close to reservoirs to place our stations. One had a ready-made base on the verandah of the block of classrooms; the other needed to have a base built. You can see from the pictures that there were plenty of hands on deck to help get the job done. To avoid hours of daily labour, we purchased a pump to pull the water from the reservoirs to fill up the huge cube holding tanks. From the tanks, the water is then filtered into dispensing buckets.
Like our hand washing stations, we are introducing these first with several instructional sessions for the students to teach them about CLEAN water and how dirty water can make one ill, cause diseases or worse. To coordinate the students, fill the holding tanks, ensure the filters are being used properly, back-flushed, that the materials are kept clean and properly maintained and that the filtered water is delivered to each class and so on, is an organisational challenge…but one well worth it!
We are so grateful to our three Barrie companies for funding this very important project. We also thank 4imprint and another company that prefers to remain anonymous, for donating more than 1000 water bottles. Each student and staff member has their own bottle and will now be able to drink safe water!
What a gift!
Implemented January 2014
When Linda first arrived in Dekpor, it was entirely run down, every building either needed extensive work, or to be torn down. Now? We take pride in our school. As we’ve been able, we have made the school a more attractive, better maintained, improved learning environment.
Thanks to a generous donation from Busch Systems, we were able to re-paint both the junior high school building and the administration building—both inside and out!
Students sanded the walls to prep them, and then our high school students did the painting over their Christmas holidays. It looks great!
Completed January 2014
This was truly a joint venture! With funds from the town, Edi and Conny Schmickl and Racketlon Austria, and DSDO, the students and staff of Dekpor Basic and village members worked tirelessly to build a showcase volleyball court. There is nothing like it anywhere in the entire region!
Dirt that was dug to make the hole for our third reservoir was moved by the students to level the area. As you can see in the photos, there were a LOT of hands on deck to help each day of this project.
With reason, the whole community is very proud of this recreational area that is going to bring years of fun and excitement…a little break from the underlying daily struggle to survive.
Started December 2013; completed February 2014
With a couple of goals in mind, we figured it was time to landscape the school grounds. When it rains in Dekpor, it REALLY rains. Torrential downpours cause a lot of erosion when the dusty sand and clay is so dry. By planting in strategic areas, we are helping prevent damage to the court yard, and ultimately buildings. Also, let’s face it, landscaping looks nice!
So, as part of the curriculum, each class has the area in front of their own classroom and a section around the new volleyball court to tend to.
We take pride in our school. When we work together to make things look good, everyone feels better about it!
This is a work in progess… and will always be growing!
The Dekpor Basic School truly is as 'basic' as can be.
The kindergarten class gathers on simple benches, under a tree. The teacher has only a small table, a broken chunk of chalkboard, and some chalk to be able to deliver her lessons to 150-170 tiny students.
The primary students fair slightly better, in that they have a thatched roof overhead.
There are no comfortable desks or chairs anywhere on school property. 'Chalkboards' are simply black paint that has been applied to the bricks.
No TVs, no video players, no globes,no maps, no math manipulatives, no calculators, …
And, of course, no computers, even though 'technology' is a required part of the curriculum.
Compare to what you have in your local school…
Since 2009, Dekpor School Development Organisation has been working very hard to improve the conditions at the school. Thanks to our generous supporters, we are able to keep making progress.
During the summer of 2010, eight Canadian educators spent three weeks volunteering at Dekpor Basic School. While living in the community with a local family, they worked with students on literacy and numeracy skills, helped to set up the school's library, shared best practices with local teachers, and participated in community activities.
Since the initial group, people from all over the world have come to volunteer at the school. Some stay for only a few days, while others for many weeks. If you think you would be interested in a volunteer experience of a lifetime, you can look at our information about Outreach Volunteers and then contact Off The Map Adventures!
DSDO's first big achievement, the building of the Dekpor School Community Library, was truly a collaboration of efforts. Generous donations from friends in Canada made our first project possible. Our contractor, Trust Construction, discounted their fee to a bare minimum to help us meet our budget. The three Dekpor villages all contributed days of labour in cutting the cement blocks for the building. Also, one generous Dekpor native, Amuzu Numana, donated a load of construction lumber for the framework.
In order to get the books we had purchased and had collected from friends, family and Edu Ref over to Ghana, our teacher volunteers and Linda's family members each took an extra suitcase packed full on their flight to Africa. As well, volunteers in Canada and our teacher volunteers helped to catalogue and process the books to get them ready for the library shelves.
DSDO has hired two librarian-literacy teachers to run the library for the students during the day and to offer classes to adults after school hours. We are VERY thankful for our sponsors who are paying their wages. The work being done by these teachers reaches hundreds of the people of Dekpor.
Update: We were finally able to completely finish the construction of the library in March 2012!! Using money raised from selling bracelets in Canada, we put in the ceiling, finished the electrical work, and installed lights and fans. It caused quite a commotion, as many have never seen a building with a finished ceiling complete with fixtures!
Soccer is one sport that can be enjoyed by all ages and doesn't require too much equipment. Think about what kids in your community have: jerseys, shorts, socks, cleats, shin pads, a proper ball, pump, goal posts…
At Dekpor Basic School, the children also love soccer, but they have had to make do with far less. Forget uniforms… most children only have the clothes on their backs. They don't have cleats… only the lucky ones have a pair of flip flops. And a ball? The kids make use of a dried up gourd or plastic bags, one inside the other, until it is about the right size. The school now has team sets.
Receiving the first set of soccer uniforms from Aurora Youth Soccer Club in Ontario sent the students into a wild frenzy in the November of 2010. Such excitement! They whooped with joy… Most had never had shoes on their feet before… They looked like a team… They ran through the school yard and then proceeded to run through the village. Pure joy.
Now we use the soccer clothes as the most amazing wearable awards ever! We have recognised some of our stand-out students with school supplies, dictionaries and certificates, but the best treat, by far, is to receive a soccer jersey and a pair of shorts! The students are so proud to sport their prizes—talk about creating a happy ruckus!
Thank you for the generous donations from the Aurora Youth Soccer Club!
Acts of Kindness Circle the Globe
In January 2011, DSDO received a HUGE donation!
Philanthropists Joyce and John Wilson of Merseyside, England made a huge donation in memory of their Aunt May and Uncle Lawrence Simpson (who lived in North York, Ontario).
The timing was perfect considering the JHS (equivalent to Canadian intermediate grades) block of classrooms was on the verge of being condemned. DSDO was able to completely renovate the three unit building, repairing walls, re-cementing the floors, replacing the roof, installing windows, electricity, lights, ceiling fans, chalk boards, doors, building a new porch, and painting both inside the classrooms and out. The work was extensive and the results remarkable!
A great big thank you to Joyce and John Wilson, two wonderfully giving and generous people!
The official commissioning happened on June 3, 2011.
Teacher Sponsorships have been an important part of our growth and commitment to improving the quality of education at Dekpor Basic. Starting in 2010, we had two teachers sponsored. Now, in 2013, we have 8 teachers being funded by generous DSDO supporters. One teacher is dedicated to the library, the other seven are in classrooms. Two of our teachers offer adult literacy classes (more below).
When we started our work, the kindergarten class had anywhere from 150 - 170 students on any given day. We have brought the numbers down to 40 - 80 in most classes, right from kindergarten up to JHS 3, but we know that in order for a teacher to be able to successfully deliver the curriculum, to be able to make contact with individuals, and to teach most effectively, the student-teacher ratio still needs to decrease.
Sponsoring a teacher impacts every child in the class… the ripple effect is huge!
The adult literacy programme has generated much interest, and several dignitaries from the School Board and from other parts of Ghana have come to see what is being done. Many adults have taken up the challenge of learning to read and write, first in Ewe and later in English… a daunting task at any age. They come after regular school hours and stay for two hours or more, three times a week. The focus is on language skills related to their every day lives — about farming, rural life, markets. They started with the Ewe alphabet, learning phonetic sounds and some simple words. Some students have progressed so quickly that they are now starting to learn simple words in English as well. They are very proud of their accomplishments and work so hard at learning. Their motivation is to better themselves, but also to act as role models for their own children, to encourage them to work hard at their basic education. These dedicated individuals are actually role models for the entire village population.
In August 2011, Linda writes:
Mr Hologbe (one of the teachers), got a call about an adult literacy competition and was asked if he had someone who could come. He said 'yes' and immediately took a motorbike out to a farm to pick up one of the students and take him into Dzodze for the test!!! The man obviously had NO prep time at all and wrote the darn test in his farming clothes! I have no idea if other towns got any more lead time than that, but this poor guy surely had none. He ended up placing second out of all the people there… so all the more reason to be doubly proud of his accomplishment!
In August of 2012, we saw more success!
Janet Tetteh, one of our adult literacy students, made us extremely proud by winning the Adult Area Literacy Competition! Despite a VERY long walk, being physically disabled, and needing a stick for support, she is determined to get to each class that our DSDO adult literacy teachers, Mr. Hologbe and Mr. Tay, provide. Janet is an extremely hard-working mom of two who works as a seamstress, a trader who buys and sells provisions, and a farmer! What an outstanding achievement!
All of the children who are fully sponsored and those on our food programme, get to attend vacation school for a month in August, for 3 hours a day, from Monday to Friday. It is an amazing opportunity for the children to get some more time in class when the student-teacher ratio is greatly reduced.
Our sponsored teachers are making a huge difference!
Early spring 2011, Linda and Abraham Kordze decided to make a donation to repair the Administration Building in honour of both of their fathers. A 2 inch crack, from floor to ceiling, made the building dangerous and subject to collapse in the next big rain storm. The building had the cracks fixed, and the addition of louver glass windows and screens, doors, fans, lights and being painted gave the building a much needed facelift! The Administration Building was commissioned on June 3rd, 2011 along with the Junior High School block.
In 2011, Andrew Sanderson gave a generous donation that enabled DSDO to get the breakfast programme started. Every morning, before school, our fully-sponsored children, as well as some other very, very needy children, stop at Favour's for a nutritious breakfast. Prior to this, several students had to start their day without any food.
In 2012, it became apparent that the children needed more than just breakfast, so we evolved… to the 'Food Programme'. There are many children who are sent to school without having had anything to eat, and have nothing for lunch either. It is impossible to learn if the body is starving.
Children who are on our food programme receive National Health Insurance coverage and get to attend 'summer' vacation school.
We would like to expand and include more children.
Just $165 provides a child with a nutritious breakfast and lunch for an entire year.
Our child sponsorship programme is making a huge difference for some extremely needy children. It is a one-to-one sponsorship, where the funds go directly to assisting your sponsored child.
Children receive a nutritious breakfast and lunch, a mosquito net, all school supplies, mandatory school uniforms, exam fees paid for, and medical attention.
This album contains just a handful of their photos. There are many more children desperately needing help.
These are some of their stories:
E lives with her mother. Her father, who was a school headmaster, passed away two years ago. Her mother is struggling to pay the school expenses, but wants very much for E to continue on with her studies. E's mother farms to pay the family’s basic expenses. If she is able to continue her education, E would like to become a teacher like her father was.
B is currently in Class 3 (Grade 3) at Dekpor Basic School. B is the youngest of six children, living with his father. B’s mother passed away when he was a baby. B is a very good student and attends school regularly. The family is struggling to pay the school expenses and unfortunately, the other siblings have been forced to drop out due to the family’s financial constraints.
Sadly, W’s mother passed away 6 years ago and his father deserted him and has not been heard of since then. He lives with his grandmother in the village, who farms to make some money to help her family. W is currently in Class 2 (Grade 2) at Dekpor Basic School. W desperately needs a sponsor in order to continue his education, as his grandmother is trying to send four of her grandchildren to school. W enjoys school a lot and works hard at all his subjects. He especially enjoys mathematics and English language studies. If he is able to continue in school, W would like to work as an automobile engineer when he gets older.
E is currently in Class 1. Recently the family house was destroyed by fire. Since the kitchen is outside like all other Dekpor homes, the cooking utensils and pots were spared, but all of their other few possessions, such as clothing and cloths were destroyed. The two room mud house has been rebuilt. E lives with her mother; her father passed away seven years ago. E has nine older siblings – a large family by any standards, and needless to say, her mother has been struggling financially. Things are even worse since the fire. The four youngest children were in school. The older children dropped out due to financial constraints. Without your generous support, E would not have been able to continue her education.
Highview's graduating grade 8 class of 2011 raised enough money to build a much-needed new water reservoir! The water collected in this reservoir will be used for student use, and any extra can be sold as a school fundraiser for Dekpor Basic School.
The community came together to do the digging and carrying water to make the concrete blocks. As can be seen in the photos, it was back-breaking work. Construction was completed in May 2012.
After the reservoir was finished, the dirt needed to be moved out of the school yard. The children all pitched in and helped… by carrying the dirt in bowls on their heads!
Thank you, Highview grads, for your generosity!
In a collaboration of efforts by Edi Schmickl, Conny Schmickl and Racketlon Federation Austria, money was donated in March of 2012 to repair the Primary Block.
Racketlon International World Cup players and spectators gave generously! The funds have been used to make necessary masonry repairs. The existing primary block had cement floors that had disintegrated and the stairs leading to the porch were in bad shape.
While the mason was at the school, repairs were made to the walls of the library where the wiring was put in.
In order to stretch the money as far as possible, DSDO decided that it was worthwhile for the students to learn the painting process instead of hiring a professional painter. Linda showed students how to prep the walls by sanding and senior students did the painting!
The Primary Block has been given a much needed face-lift thanks to Edi, Conny and RFA!
The library was built in 2010, but we learned that we needed to 'finish it'. Bats.
Using funds raised by selling Ghanaian glass bead bracelets, the ceiling was completed, the building was wired for electricity and fans and lights were installed. It caused quite the commotion as the vast majority of Dekpor residents have never before seen a building with a finished ceiling!
Thank you to everyone who sold or purchased bracelets to help us fundraise for this important improvement!
Sam Chapman Public School in Markham, Ontario got very creative! Students, staff and local professionals got together to produce art for an auction on June 6, 2012, aptly named 'Ghanart'. Enough money was raised to enable DSDO to build a second water reservoir for the students at Dekpor Basic School.
Rain water from the newly built block of classrooms will run down the roof, get caught by the gutters, and then run through the downspout into the water reservoir. Just take a look at the photos, it is hard, hard work. It took 4 full days, dusk till dawn, and crews of men from Dekpor Yia, Dekpor Horme and Dekpor Dome to complete the digging.
As the dirt came up out of the hole, Dekpor students carried it away to help with another little DSDO project… to grade the courtyard and build a berm.
The bricks are all made by hand, and this job too, is completed by community labour. We, of course, hire a professional mason to lay the bricks. This is yet another project that shows how teamwork can make a wonderful difference. Construction was completed in January 2013.
Thank you Sam Chapman staff, students and parents for your generosity!
Toilets. Sure, no one really wants to talk about them, but they are necessary.
Dekpor Basic School has an 8-seater KVIP and a urinal for student use, but they had never been properly maintained since they were built, many years ago. DSDO decided that hygiene is a priority. In January 2013 we had all of the broken bricks repaired, re-stuccoed, improved the ventilation, switched the useable pit in each cubicle (which means moving the concrete plug to cover the other pit opening within each cubicle), painted inside and out, and installed gates. There is now a maintenance plan which includes daily cleaning and disinfecting.
In kindergarten, even with the children crammed in as tight as possible, there wasn't space for everyone to sit.
In the upper grades, there was definitely not enough furniture. The students were required to lug their own chair and table, to and from school, (more than 2 km each way for some of kids), EVERY DAY!
In February and March of 2013, we were able to make a difference. 40 benches and 40 tables were made for the kindergarten and grade 1 students, and 60 one-piece desks were made for the junior high school students.
As you can see from the photos, this was another example of us working together. DSDO hired carpenters to do the construction, but students were responsible for sanding and painting. The colours are bright and happy, just like the faces of the children who get to enjoy the new furniture!
UNICEF estimates that diarrhoea kills 1.1 million children every year, and pneumonia-related illnesses take another 1.2 million child lives. Hand washing with soap prevents disease in a more straightforward and cost-effective way than any single vaccine. The simple act of washing hands with soap at critical times is an easy and affordable intervention that can reduce the incidence of diarrhoea among children under five by almost 50%, and cut respiratory infections by as much as 25%.
When you have to walk a minimum of 4 km to get water for your family, that precious water gets used for cooking and drinking.
Washing hands is something that we are having to teach.
We are starting at the school level. The children are being taught the important reasons for washing their hands. We have set up stations at the school and have just started our training process. We KNOW it is going to take time to implement this change. But it's an important one.
Our kick off was on May 30, 2013. The Assemblyman, and DEHO and his staff, joined the students and teachers for the launch. There were speeches, dancing, singing, drumming, dramas, and the presentation of the soap and wash stands. This is a school-wide initiative, where students and staff are working together to create new healthy habits.
We want to continue building water reservoirs on the school compound so we can take advantage of the rain that falls during rainy seasons. We need to use the resources we have. Washing hands is going to save lives!
Dekpor School had been presented with a curriculum challenge. ICT is part of the curriculum, but how are children to really know anything about computers, and pass the required exam, if they have never seen one? In 2009 when we started our work, there wasn't even electricity in Dekpor, never mind a computer!
In February 2012, Linda returned to Dekpor, after a visit in Ontario, with 7 donated laptops. First, the teachers had to be trained. Now the students have to get opportunities to try using a laptop.
Do the math: 653 students, only 7 laptops. Yes, we need more. Gently used, functioning laptops are gratefully accepted.