The heart of the community, Ghana. Written by Anna Butterworth.

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I recently travelled to our project in Ayensuako, Ghana.  This trip was my first outside of the EU and therefore came with the usual worries about what to expect from venturing into the unknown.

My worries, which disappeared quickly once I was met by our colleagues in Ghana who became like family over the duration of our trip, turned out to be entirely unfounded. This experience was not only an opportunity to visit our project in Ayensuako, but to become completely immersed in the heartbeat of the community, beyond the capacity of my role as a humanitarian, to be accepted into and function as part of one of the most exceptional communities I could ever hope to be a part of.

Each morning we would meet a group of children outside in the courtyard to walk up to the school (the group usually trebled in size before we arrived!). The children would introduce us to community members along the way and by the time we needed to pop back to get more supplies from the house those same people were greeting us as old friends. Not for the first time this trip, I found myself in awe of the hospitality of the local community.

The school is a community within a community, older children readily help the younger ones with everything from drawing to making sure they are tucked away on the mat in time for their afternoon nap. Simially, the younger children readily lead counting and spelling lessons for their peers at levels well beyond their years. Suffice to say, the opportunity to teach a class in Ayensuako was one I could not pass up, to deliver a session for these amazing children was an honour.

All of this is achieved with only access to the bare minimum of resources. The resilience and resourcefulness of the staff and students at the school is astounding. The unwavering commitment of the teachers to ensure consistent engagement of the children in spite of what can be at times adverse circumstances, is reflected in the attitudes of the children and the high regard in which they hold their education. The value the children place on their education was evident in everything from the pride with which they shared their work with us to the tenacity with which they speak about their future academic and career plans. 

This trip has left me reflecting on the role that community plays in influencing the growth and development of its children. Ayensuako is a community in which people weave dreams from their own determination and aspiration and one which I feel extremely proud to say I am now a member of.