Like many communities throughout Ghana, Asisiriwa suffers from the devaluation of agricultural resources and labor on the world market, and therefore struggles to provide services and resources to the community that it desperately needs. One of these resources is education, which is the focus of our project and our integration into the village. However, in our time here, we have recognized that literacy is not the only thing missing in Asisiriwa, and while our vision is focused on providing literacy education and literature to the community, we want to offer other possibilities for those whose focus may be on other forms of service.
If you would like more information or simply would like to talk about ideas, please contact us.
Access to Water:
Asisiriwa’s 2,000 residents access water through a single wellbore in the middle of town, which would present no more problem than waiting in line were it not for the fact that it relies entirely on the electrical grid for its operation. This means that when the power goes out, as it frequently does, sometimes for days at a time, the well is inoperable. This can present serious problems for the community, especially during the months-long dry season, when nearby creeks and rivers dry up due to lack of rain. The only option for getting water is to send droves of children to the next town, Mim, along a road shared by taxis and tro-tros that careen overstuffed and barely functioning along the blind curves and hills of the road. Of course, even after walking to the next town, there is no guarantee the well there will not already be flooded by others trying to get access to water, and may necessitate walking even further, to Brodekwano or even Beposo, before finally carrying the heavy load back to the village.
How to Help: By drilling another viable well in the village—especially one that does not rely on electricity to function—you can help the community have much-needed access to water, even during the long dry months when it is usually hardest to come by.
Access to Health Care:
Currently the nearest hospital is in Kuntanase, which is restrictive to many Asisiriwans due to the rising prices of taxi fare. Also, while the hospital itself is open 24 hours a day, the people of Asisiriwa are unable to access it in emergencies due to the heavy reliance on sporadic and unscheduled public transportation. Almost no one in the village owns a car (and those that do tend to stay in the village only about 30% of the time).
How to Help: There is already a push among community members to establish a small clinic in the community, including nurses’ quarters, but the project has stalled due to a lack of funding. It would be relatively easy to help establish this essential resource as the land has already been acquired and the community supports the construction and will therefore contribute volunteer hours toward it.
A quick note: As with any community, there are some small but relevant considerations to make with any aid project regarding sociopolitical concerns. In this case, there is some controversy as to whether the construction of a clinic will mean forcing teachers out of their homes in order to make room for nurses. While a compromise is possible, taking sides seems inevitable. I caution any aid worker to do their research before establishing a project in the village.
One of the largest sources of culture shock for many Americans in Ghana is the nonchalance with which Ghanaians litter. In fact, many Ghanaians do not agree with the practice, but recognize its inevitability without the necessary infrastructure of waste management and facilities. As such, the high environmental cost of large-scale development, litter, and even the common practice of garbage burning is beginning to show on the otherwise rich and fertile land in and around Asisiriwa.
How to Help: Undoubtedly education is one sure way to help combat this growing problem. In our time here, we have also tried to lead by example by starting a compost garden near the teachers’ quarters with the help of a local friend, and to build as sustainably as possible. While environmentalism is not our forte, we recognize that there is a lot of room for improvement.
Access to Electricity:
It is almost laughable how terrible the electricity situation is in Ghana. Endemic power outages not only minimize the efficiency of industry and business, they also continuously destroy important and expensive appliances like refrigerators, washing machines, computers, fans, and even light bulbs.
How to Help: While access to electricity through the power grid depends largely on government funding and foreign policy, avenues to alternative power remain open and largely unconsidered—with the exception of the hydroelectric but overburdened Akosombo Dam. Despite its tropical climate and abundance of sunny days, Ghana uses almost no solar power. Educating Asisiriwans and helping to implement more sustainable power sources may be as simple as connecting them to solar panel producers in Accra.
Social Programs for Youth/Adults:
There is often nothing for children or adults to do by way of entertainment in Asisiriwa, aside from occasional televised football matches at the chief’s palace or (for those of age) the single drinking spot which is only occasionally open. Even the school provides no extracurricular clubs or activities for student engagement, leaving even the brightest and most active minds to make their own entertainment in the long hours of the afternoons or weekends.
How to Help: Long-term partnership with the community with leadership education could go a long way to alleviate the issue of bored youth—an issue which often leads to unintended pregnancy, injury, or petty crime. Sports, music, art, drama, debate, robotics, chess…any well-structured and maintained programs could drastically reduce boredom and all its unintended consequences, and go a long way to creating meaningful connections between students and their community, as well as bolstering self-esteem, values, and skills.
Access to Secondary/Tertiary Education:
School fees are often extremely prohibitive for families struggling to make ends meet through farming and fishing, so many students who have the capacity for further study end up not pursuing their education in order to help support their families.
How to Help: Contribute to the existing Education Fund in Asisiriwa established by prominent linguist and Asisiriwa native Professor Kofi Agyekum. The fund helps students chosen on academic merit and needing financial assistance to attend senior high school, and occasionally helps them through their first years of university of college. It is currently funded through a small tariff imposed on all funeral donations, but could always use more help.