Thursday, December 30, 2010

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Valentines Day shipment leaves for Ghana on Christmas

I.S.A.B.T. is proud to announce our 40 ft. shipping container loaded with over 35,000 library quality books has left the port of Oakland and is set to arrive in Ghana on Valentine’s day. All of the books have been carefully screened to ensure they are educational, relevant, and appropriate. These books will help thousands of students in Ghana who have no access to books or reading materials of any kind. We are working very closely with our partner schools in Ghana to ensure that these books are utilized to their maximum potential. Schools with no books to speak of, will now be able to house their own contemporary Libraries.
Have you ever wondered what shipping books to Africa entails? Well, let us tell you that it is not possible without a strong team of dedicated, passionate, and motivated volunteers.
I would like to take this opportunity to thank our amazing groups of helpers. Without their dedication, persistence, and strong backs a project like this would never have been possible.
2010 Book Drive Volunteers
Dianne tirelessly packed boxes of San Jose Library book donations from 4:00 - midnight on a Saturday and then transported the 200 filled boxes by herself to street level for Sunday pickup.  She then rented and paid for a U-haul truck to transport the books to the shipping port. Dianne, her friend Michael, and Lisa Carbajal then loaded the U-haul and stored it for delivery to Oakland the next day. On Monday, Lisa and Dianne drove the loaded truck to Oakland and unloaded it at the shipping port.  Then, the next day, Lisa and Dianne drove to the San Francisco library and spent 12 hours packing, loading, and unloading, as well as putting together, the boxes. It took three trips from S.F. to Oakland in order to transfer all of the tens of thousands of books.
Lisa put in tireless hours packing boxes on the weekend. Both she and Dianne took off Monday and Tuesday to pack, load, and unload the boxes of books.  Lisa has 3 children and had to make babysitting arrangements in order to help me.
Rinal helped organize the difficult logistics of running a successful Book Drive. This included establishing and maintaining library and volunteer contacts and picking up donations from all over the Bay Area.
Rich helped promote our cause, raised money to cover the cost of the container, the boxes, and even paid for a volunteer pizza lunch.
Minty Huynh/ Fog Valley provided a truck on Tuesday to pack up books at S.F. Library.  She also held a Crab Feed fundraiser at her home to raise funds for the fuel needed for the truck.  She and 3 of her friends generously volunteered at the last minute because we needed more volunteers to help "pick and pack" books from the S.F. Library.
Amazing Packaging graciously sold us brand new shipping boxes at their cost.
UJENA generously donated their factory space as a Book Drop location and helped promote the Book Drive. Thanks to Justin Wall, Lisa Anderson-Wall, Ellie Eagles, Trisha Tompkins, and Julia Hittler for their assistance and support.

Thanks to this group for combing the stacks, culling the very best books for our Ghanaian teachers and then specially packing them for delivery to classrooms in Ghana.
Our wonderful connections at the San Francisco Library who gave us access to relevant, educational, and gently-used library books.
For donating thousands of quality books to our schools.
A special thank you to all of the people who generously packed and donated their gently used books to our cause, like Sue Garadis, and Anne Cleaver.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

The new COCONUT is here!

The latest edition of our newsletter The Coconut is here!
Read about our newest international educational programs and book collections

Thursday, November 4, 2010

California Book Drive for Africa

Please visit
for Bay Area book drop locations and our book-drive schedule.

Updates coming soon!

Thursday, September 16, 2010

2010 Summer Writing Workshop in Accra

Quame Zowonu writes to us about the recent activity with our Book Club in Accra. "Our fourth summer bookmaking project was with the Teshie southern cluster of schools in Accra.  Even though the school was on holiday, the response from the students to our workshop was very good. The children were in very high spirits to learn. 

After brief introductions, we began our coursework in earnest. Ms Beverly Baller began with the I.S.A.B.T. lesson plan we had been using for the past three weeks. With the rapport created and the support of the patron Mr. Felix Adjavor and myself the activities began with the things that should go into the writing of stories and making stories their own. As always Ms Baller read sample stories to the class and they answered simple questions based on the stories they had listened to. She introduced the young writers to the essentials of parts of a story which are the beginning, the middle and the end of the story and what each component entailed. At the end of the day they were given home works to add up to what they had created in the class thus the beginning, middle and end of a story they had created.

The following day was the introduction of the use of descriptive language and characterization to enrich their stories. The students were asked to go home and to rewrite their earlier stories, this time making use of the descriptive language and characterization skills they had studied. On the third day the children completed and presented their final scripts to the Club.

The headmistress who sat through the programme said the team’s arrival was very timely, the children and their teachers wanted encouragement in making reading and writing fun. She further urged the children that there is no end to reading and for that reason, they should cultivate the habit of reading for fun and their reading and writing skills would improve.

The circuit supervisor in charge of the southern cluster of schools took time out of her busy schedule to come and encourage the students and teachers to keep up the good works and stated that she hoped that the corporation will continue between I.S.A.B.T. and the school. Even though the team spent only three days with the reading club at the Teshie southern cluster of schools the response was very good.

The school presented handwoven strips of Kente cloth to thank Ms. Beverly Baller, myself, and another for the founding president of ISABT Jonathan Thurston in their appreciation for their selflessness and dedication to making the African child read and write."-Quame Zowonu

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Making Books in Ho

Our wonderful summer volunteer Beverly Baller has done it again! Round two of the 2010 Summer bookmaking project near the village of Ho in the Volta region of Ghana has exceeded all expectations.

Beverly writes, "The book club celebration was truly amazing! In addition to the kids, some parents, and staff members; a bunch of district level supervisors, local Ghanaian army members, and even a pastor. All said, there were many speeches and the local people are so excited to be the newest school in Ghana entering this partnership. They want to become a model school and share the knowledge with schools in other nearby townships. Most importantly, they were impressed by the kids books and are eager to support the continuation of the project on a year round basis; ISABT is psyched today!

It was also just plain fun. It makes all the hard work over the course of the week worth it. Book making is tough, tiring, and challenging. The week starts off mellow, crescendos around Thursday when the finished product is uploaded to the computer, and finally printed into hard copy form for distribution. Speaking of distribution, would you even believe one of the administrators visiting from the district bought, yes paid for, two of the books. A local military policeman got Quame’s phone number and wants us to visit his hometown to “teach him to read and write.” Even though I only had a week with them and felt like I barely even had a chance to connect with them, the kids let out a huge cheer when my presence was announced in the opening introductions. I almost shed a tear on the spot: they must have actually really enjoyed the program! Maybe they even like me too. Either way, it was one of those touching moments that a teacher never forgets. Just to make sure of it, they presented me with a one-of-a-kind Kente cloth inscribed with my name and the words thank you written in Ewe. Unbelievable, once in a lifetime experience; of course I suspect that the extended members of the Ho crew had that one arranged for me and Quame specially. They really know how to make a Yevu (foreign) lady feel comfortable and welcome!"

Working in schools in Ghana is not only great for the students and teachers but it is just as rewarding for our volunteers. As Beverly puts it,"Being out here is really improving my teaching skills, I feel like I have a better sense of how to reach more kids, and I also am becoming more comfortable in my own skin. At first it was awkward, teaching general education literacy, being so far outside my background and realm of experience; but I find that instructional styles and strategies transcend style and subject matter. I am really getting the hang of it and realizing that I have more flexibility and abilities in education than I ever realized."

This experience has been rewarding on both a professional level and on a personal one, "the guys here in Ghana (Quame, Wisdom, George, Nii, Yaw, Jon, Prosper, and Joe) are restoring not just my faith in men, but in people period. They are all so nice it’s almost ridiculous. I have to watch my American tendencies to refuse generous offers because they genuinely wish to do it for no reason at all other than the fact that they are just damn good people. How many of us are that real and selfless? No offense to those of you reading this from back home, but I think most of us have some work to do in that department, myself included."

Congratulations to Beverly on another splendid project!
Mudo! (Ewe for thank you)

You can read the new stories written in the Volta here

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Making Books in Ghana with volunteer Beverly Baller

We are so blessed to be working with our newest volunteer Beverly Baller this year in Ghana. Beverly is a New York City School teacher who has generously donated her time and expertise to help our Book Club students refine their reading and writing skills. She just completed a two week writing/ publishing program in Elmina to rave reviews and is now off to work with a school  in the village of Kpetoe in the Volta region .

Beverly wrote to us about her students at Elmina Junior High School "they (the students) are all truly bright and hardworking. I come in to the school at eight am and the majority of them are sitting quietly already working on their stories.  Since they are all members of the book club, they all want to be there and actually volunteered their time as it is technically their holiday.  They love reading and writing and are so excited to author their own books!  Their stories are amazing – ranging from happy to sad, funny to serious – mostly following the traditional Ghanaian/African style of folktales using the animal kingdom.  All their stories are incredible!  Especially when you start to consider that for them English is actually a second language.  In some cases the spelling and grammar will need a bit of work but their ideas are excellent, very creative and cool."

We would like to thank Beverly for working so hard, her dedicated efforts have made the first part of this project a complete success! Overcoming all odds and burning the midnight oil she was able to help over 20 students publish 34 new books to be added to the Ghana online Library.

At the end of the 2 week book cycle the school in Elmina hosted a Book Celebration. Beverly writes to us about it, "By the grace of God, the power held out (there are frequent blackouts) and we managed to get all thirty-four books printed and ready to present.  Quame even got the press involved and a local media outlet will be printing a story about the program on Monday.  The kids had a great time.  They each received the books they had written, as well as a mineral (soda) and meat pie from Elle to snack on.  Many staff members from the school came and made speeches, as did I (see below).  It was truly inspirational.  There was a definite emphasis on the importance of continuing the program on an on going basis and teachers are already discussing with their administration ways to build time into the school year for creative writing and story telling.  So overall a success! "

You can see the latest books here

We thought we would share the speech Beverly gave at the Elmina Junior High School Book Club Celebration.

Speech for the Book Club Celebration
at Elmina Junior High School
By Bev Baller

Akwaaba – Welcome everyone and Madeasse – thank you for being here with us to celebrate these incredibly talented young men and women.  Let’s pause for a second and give them all a hand for their hard work and achievements (Clap).  For the last few weeks, I have been blessed with the opportunity to work with these intelligent and hardworking individuals, and for that, I am very grateful.

As you may already know, I am here on behalf on the International School for the Arts, Business, and Technology, a US based non-profit founded by my wonderful cousin, Jonathan Thurston.  The premise of the program is to read, create, and share!  This represents the on-going cycle of learning the writers undergo wherein the read books, are inspired to create their own, and then share them with their peers.  Through the reading of others stories and ideas, writers are again challenged to create and improve their own writing.

We start out by talking about the parts of a good story: the beginning, middle, and end.  In the beginning, writers introduce their characters, setting, and introduce the conflict or issue that drives their story.  In the middle, writers describe in detail the sequence of events that occurs in regards to the conflict or issue that the story is about.  And finally, in the end, writers wrap up their story by resolving the conflict in a meaningful way that accurately represents the characters involved. 

Once we have the foundation for the story we work on improving our writing through the use of descriptive language and character development.  Students learned about using adjectives, similes, and metaphors to bring their writing to life for the readers of these stories.  After that, writers work to develop their characters not just through descriptive language but also through their actions; and are encouraged to build their stories around the characters unique personalities and the challenges they face.  Finally, we work on illustrating our story.  We know good writers use these images to help tell their stories more clearly and give the reader a mental picture of our writing.

For the last two weeks, these amazing students have worked hard to write and illustrate their own books.  Please join me in celebrating the hard work they have done by sharing in the reading of their stories.  Hopefully, this will inspire you to do some writing of your own.  I believe it is critical that this program continues.  It gives students a creative voice, and opportunity to share their unique experiences and knowledge within their communities and in communities throughout the world.

Instead of simply reading stories written by other people from other places, students are encouraged to create traditional African stories like those of their ancestors; folk tales that sometimes utilize animals to teach lessons about life, friendship, love, morals, and values.  For every class that completes a cycle of this program, they are left with many books that they can use in the educational activities.  These stories, like other books, can be used in the classroom for comprehension and writing activities.  

In this way, schools here in Africa can empower themselves to overcome challenges such as a lack of resources and texts that students have difficulty relating to.  More importantly however, it teaches students that they are powerful and capable of creating and sharing their own knowledge.  They are no longer passive receivers of the teacher’s wisdom, but rather, they become equally important and are encouraged to think for themselves and develop the tools they will need to be successful as adults.  It is my hope and dream that this group of talented young men and women will continue this program long after I have left and for years to come.  I know that with the support of the wonderful staff at this school and my partner Quame, that vision will become a reality. 
I want to take this opportunity to present George, an English teacher here and the staff leader of the Elmina club with a digital camera and a web-cam to continue this important work in the fall.  I also want to thank him, Charles, and the students for welcoming me into their school and coming to work with me this August in what could have been their summer holidays.  You are all wonderful people and I am confident you will go on the do great things – whatever it is you dream of for your life, believe me, you can accomplish it.  I will never forget my time and you too, have inspired me, to read, create, and share.  Thank you very much – madasse pa pa – for you have touched my heart, spirit, and soul.  May God bless you all!

Monday, July 12, 2010

The new COCONUT is here!

With Summer in full bloom, it is time again for us to release the latest edition of the Coconut, our I.S.A.B.T. newsletter.

There is a lot to share in this edition of the Coconut, including write ups and interviews about our new book club programs, Ghanaian newspaper articles about shipping resources, and colorful imagery from Africa.

If you would like to receive a full color printed version, please send us your address and we will mail you a printed copy.

Thank you again to everyone who has made an effort to enhance the education of our children around the world.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Quame's Corner

Quame Zowonu is a teacher, author, and one of I.S.A.B.T.’s representatives in Ghana. Quame is a huge help in organizing and facilitating our projects on the ground and maintaining connections with the schools and teachers we work with in West Africa. We decided to ask Quame a few questions about his experiences working with I.S.A.B.T. on educational projects in Ghana.

"Our beginnings may be small but like the mustard seed we know that with the support from like minded people who share the thought of giving back to society what God has given them we would extend and spread all over Ghana and move across to other countries in Africa reaching every child on our way.

Currently the course of improving the lives of Ghanaian children has been yielding a lot since, not withstanding our meager resources, we have made a tremendous impact in Ghana with our presence in three out of the ten regions (namely Greater Accra, Central and Volta Region.) The satellite schools we work in have reading clubs that serve as models for other schools in the area. The clubs serve as a conduit through which we reach the rest of the schools in the region.  For instance, through this influence St. James Business College, Denu (Volta Region) has set aside the first 30minutes of every day’s lesson for reading story books only. This has been dubbed “the silence time for reading”.

We have a saying that goes, “Train up a child in the way he should go and he shall not depart from it.”  With this in mind, our main focus is children in the basic schools, but we have not left out the secondary and the tertiary level students. We have made donations such as a video conferencing system to Cape Coast Polytechnic University (in the central region) to enhance their academic work with regard to distance learning. Computers and its accessories were also donated to Elmina Methodist Junior High School to enhance their computer skills while to the Teshie Southern Cluster of Schools a donation of books was made to enhance their reading and referencing.

The International School of Art, Business and Technology (I.S.A.B.T) creates opportunities to give back to humanity a token of what God has given to us. Working with I.S.A.B.T  since it was founded has been an eye opener  for me to see first hand what my younger brothers and sisters in rural and urban Ghana (and the whole of Africa) are going through to attain academic laurels for themselves and the country as a whole. When the idea or the concept was first discussed with me, by the founding president of I.S.A.B.T Jonathan Thurston, I must admit that I thought it would be difficult for Ghanaian children to create and write their own books for publication. This naivety came as a result of the structure of the Ghanaian Educational Curriculum which does not encourage much creativity and self belief, which I have been part of for a very long time. I thank God for the Ghanaian children proving me wrong and further proving to me that when given the opportunity they can take after great African writers such as Atu Kwei Okai, Ayikwei Armah, Efua Sutherland, Ama Atta Aidoo, Ola Rotimi and the likes. It donned on me that when in a class of 20 every child writes a book and then the books are rotated among them in that same class, a child would have read 20 books by the time the rotation ends. This implies that this child would have also been influenced by the different styles of writing that would have been brought to bear by the young writers. As often as they write, they would improve their vocabulary which eventually improves their language and also arouses their interest and desire to read other peoples’ work. Silently we would be bringing up an educated African with the desire to use his or her life wisely while others identify their talent in writing, hence this strengthened my conviction and commitment to the cause of I.S.A.B.T."

Monday, July 5, 2010

Nyeri Kenya Bookmaking Project

A group of volunteers from Pennsylvania State University Berks just returned from working in Nyeri, Kenya after conducting a bookmaking and publishing program.  The group worked with the Children and Youth Empowerment Centre to help their students to  make/write books and become authors. The project, generously funded and supported by the Beaver Community Service Endowment Fund and the University Office of Global Programs at Pennsylvania State University in Berks County, was a HUGE success!

“We were literally running 5 workshops per day for 5 days to give every child the opportunity (to make books) By night, I was working with the teacher and the Director of  C.Y.E.C. to develop their first math textbook and workbook combination” said project leader Andrea Pfaff. She went on to say, “Working with I.S.A.B.T.  on the RealeBooks project at the Children and Youth Empowerment Centre in Nyeri, Kenya was eye-opening and inspiring.  My students and I were impressed with the creativity of the children, but more so by their excitement to create their own storybook.  The stories that were written ranged from a basic ABC book for those children who were still just learning to read and write, to folktales and fairy tales retold, to personal autobiographies.  Some of the stories made us laugh, some made us cry, and some honestly inspired us to change the way we live our own lives. To hear about these children’s struggles and then to observe their resilience and strength left me profoundly speechless and amazed.  Most importantly for our project’s sake, I was taken aback by the great extent to which these children value education.  My observation is that a child finding a donor to fund their high school education is similar to an American winning the lottery; it is that life changing. Upon returning home, it is nearly impossible not to remind ourselves of how grateful we are to have loved ones, family and the opportunities we have been given in our lives and in our country.  Education, in particular, is invaluable and, I believe, is the key to a brighter future. Programs such as this spread that hope throughout the world so that one day education may be accessible to all those who desire it; For this, our world may be a better place. I want to sincerely thank the International School of Art, Business and Technology for paving the way with this wonderful program and for unselfishly sharing the gift of education with the world.  I also want to thank the Pennsylvania State University Office of Global Programs and the Beaver Community Service Endowment Fund of Penn State Berks for giving this opportunity not only to myself and my students, but to the children of the C.Y.E.C. who deserve it so much.”

All of the volunteers plan to return to Kenya and continue with the project. As project volunteer Kasie Lynch puts it, “I would definitely love to help the kids make more books... they have so much potential”. She later wrote to us, “I think that the book making project is great! I would have never imagined that some of the children would write stories like they did. The first day when we told them about the project, one student came up to me and asked if he could write a novel. I was shocked! ‘A novel, sure why not?’ I said we could show him how to use the software and he could keep on writing. Everything about the project was perfect. These students have never been given the opportunity to do something like this. For some, it was hard to get them to dive into their imagination to create a story, but once they did, they did not want to stop. The children are creative, smart, and ambitious. With a project like this, it will open the door to so many new experiences and opportunities." For more information on starting a book club in your community and exploring the power and potential of books, please contact us and visit

Special thanks to volunteers Andrea Pfaff, Kasie Lynch, Miriam Ellis, Mehari Ghebremicael, Owen Reitnauer, Nicole Messner, Meghann McGuire, Alice Holland, and Brittany Holland for working so hard and making such a meaningful impact in the lives of young children in Africa.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Letter from Teshie LEKMA 3 & 4 J.H.S

Teshie LEKMA 3 & 4 J.H.S.
P.O. Box TS 19
Teshie, Ghana

27th April, 2010


The Headmistress, the Teachers and the entire membership of the Reading Club wish to render their sincere gratitude for the reading books sent to the Reading Club of the above school. We are very grateful because, this is going  to enrich our knowledge base. We are also grateful for this kind gestures and we hope, this close partnership with the TESHIE LEKMA 3 & 4 JUNIOR HIGH SCHOOL will continue.

Once more, we say thank you and may God Richly Bless you and replenish all expenses incurred in the course of this project.

Yours sincerely,

Felix Yao Adjavor
The Founding Patron

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Jonathan Thurston's Photographs from Kibera, Kenya.

Kids in Kibera want to learn, it is a place that is just exploding with energy. I remember the strength and determination of the residents and the passion of all of the laughing, smiling, children. Please enjoy the images of joy and intensity I was able to capture during a recent visit to help students in Nairobi author their own books.
-Jonathan Thurston

Thursday, April 1, 2010

I.S.A.B.T. Supports LEKMA Schools in Teshie, Accra

I.S.A.B.T. is broadening our horizons and expanding our programs in Ghana. We are now working with the LEKMA southern cluster of schools in Accra. They have stared a new student book club and plan to begin publishing books on campus very soon.

We were happy to donate a shipment of books from the United States to help support the founding of their new book club. 


Friday, March 5, 2010

Ghanaian students contribute to virtual media library by Gayle Pescud

In July 2009 I had the privilege of catching up with old friends and meeting some new faces when Jonathan Thurston, his wife Kristi, and past and present students arrived in Ghana to carry out a book making project with students at a primary school in Elmina, in the Central Region of Ghana.
What’s so special? They use simple, portable technology to inspire creativity and facilitate learning among Ghana’s poorest students. And they use ‘social media’ to establish networks with like-minded individuals and organizations internationally, enhancing development opportunities and increasing the possibility of involving other communities and countries as the organization grows.
I interviewed Jonathan, the founder, about 2009 summer’s project and the organization behind the project: The Intl School of Art, Business and Technology (ISABT). Founded in 2006 by Jonathan Thurston, Trudy Obazee, Chair of the Accounting Department at Albright College, and Sarah Philbrick, ISABT’s mission is to operate educational programs in Ghana and give children an opportunity to become authors. You can view some of the books that students wrote in July 2009 at the Ghana Reale Library. For those interested, download Reale Writer from the Reale site.
I asked Jonathan:
What groups are you working with in Ghana?
We’re working with schools and we’re trying to work with the PTA to sustain our program. We have some help from other NGOs like Global Mamas with housing or advice. We have people that we work with in Ghana here that can go around and make appointments before we arrive to save us a lot of time. You know, sometimes things take a while so we can get the ball rolling a month before we come and jump right in when we arrive.
So you’re working with Ghanaians on the ground?
Yes, former teachers. We have one who was actually hired to run the book making program. And what I’m trying to do is put our research from this summer and from the past together into educational units and share them with teachers across developing countries to solve their problems before they have them, like an issue with ink or different technology issues or equipment. Ideally you would have the educational units ready and all you need is a working printer and a working laptop that can run the software, and some paper and some crayons. If you have that, you can run it.
Last summer I came for a week and saw the possibility and impact that it had. One school I went to, Kakum Oda, had no power and very few books and resources. I had only a week and I had asked to work with a few students. On the first day I sat down with the head teacher, greeted her and said, ‘Thank you for working with me, so, it would be great to meet the two students.’ And she started laughing. She said, ‘There’s more than two.’ I said, ‘Really, more than two?’ I thought, maybe, there’d be four or six. No. Every kid in the school wrote a story already! There were over a hundred stories. They all came up all of a sudden and put them on the desk. Just from hearing about the project they’d all written a story.
I couldn’t do all the stories last summer but I what I saw was that people want to do them. So we’re working through those stories and I have my college kids illustrating them, putting them into software—we’re working our way through that pile.
So what’s happening this summer?
This summer we have a new program where we have writing instruction. It’s about how to write a story, descriptive language, setting, character, and plot. One thing I noticed with the pile of stories was that there was little structure so one thing we did this summer was introduce story-writing instruction—and they totally get it. From a few paragraphs to pages—we’re seeing very descriptive and rich stories.
I was just watching them write. I noticed some are copying—naughty kids. And some are writing freehand. The title of one story was “The girl who married a ghost”. I want to know what happens in that story.
I want to read that story. And maybe some will be copying from one at the beginning, we’re all going to sit and read them together and if we get a story twice, we’ll know.
Could you tell me what a typical session with the kids entails?
We’re still learning, but when I came last summer one thing I noticed is that a lot of the stories didn’t have a beginning, middle or an end. For a well-rounded story you have to introduce the story, tell the story, and then tie it up at the end. We talk about that during the teaching sessions.
I’ve been doing a lot of research into folk stories as well for a couple of years now, especially from West Africa. You know Ananse?  When I see an Ananse story, I know, often, whether it’s an original. If they do want to tell an Ananse story that’s fine, but we encourage them to make it their own a little bit and enrich it to make it different.
How does the project work this summer?
We’re working with this school and they pitched in their own money to buy the computers they have. Even though the computers are often twenty years old, although they have some newer ones, it’s still a foundation to start.
We brought volunteers from the USA with lap tops. They could work with three students each and put the stories into the lap tops. The next thing they’ll do tomorrow is proof-reading and illustrating pictures for the stories. The students write and illustrate the story and we help them get them on the lap top. And tomorrow we’ll run a training session for the teachers too, so when we leave they’ll be able to do it on their own.
What happens to their stories when they finish writing them?
On the final day we’ll have a book celebration. We’ll give each student a printed book and give a laptop and printer to the school. It’s everything they need to keep it going with the teacher who’s been involved from the beginning.
We’re promoting the healthy book cycle: Read, Create, Share. Always start with reading. Even better: start with reading a book another student has written. Then they get inspired to create a book that they then share. And then the next student will read it and be inspired to create and share. That’s the healthy book cycle. If they keep this going, it’s going to keep building. What we want to do is make sure they can continue the cycle.
How do the online books work?
We have a library for Ghana. So any book made in Ghana is welcome to be included in that library. Anyone can access it. It’s all free. The software is free. The library is free. These books are available for anyone to read if they have a PC and internet. Kids from Kenya, Brooklyn, New Jersey and California will be reading these books. And they’re making their own books and putting them online too and kids in Ghana will be able to read those. And they can pull them off the library and print them.
It’s inspiring. What is your vision for the future?
If we can get it working here, we can build a model that we can replicate. We also want to build a community centre to work with the schools and run after school programs. We would have a small library and computer lab and do programs like the book making program. We want to provide resources to run programs for the future. If someone wants to run an accounting workshop, we’ll bring an accountant from the US or a local accountant and run the workshop. We want to get involved in the community and give them what they need: programs that can enhance the community.
You spoke about the Ghanaian students who came from the USA to volunteer this summer; can you tell me about their involvement?
One is a former student of mine from Albright and one is a current student; he’s getting college credit for working on this project. Their help has been so wonderful on so many levels. They’re both so committed. I think the reactions of the students working in the project are special for them. For a Ghanaian student to study in the USA is very expensive so they’re from families that can afford that. They come back and help out the kids and hopefully those kids will have that opportunity in future. And it’s good role model for the students here to see someone who’s worked hard and graduated from university who cares about Ghana, coming back: someone like them but a bit older. It’s inspiring for the kids.
The educational paradigm is drawn as a pyramid and goes that everyone gets in on the bottom, but the higher up, the narrower it gets, less people in. We’re trying to make that pyramid a square.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Working at Red Rose in Kibera

Red Rose

"It happened to be a fantastic week since we were blessed to have some visitors from the LitWorld Organization. The organization's Director Pam Allyn, along with her LitWorld team consisting of her husband Jim, Annie, a kindergarten teacher, Jonathan, a teacher and co-founder of a literacy building NGO in Ghana..."

Red Rose School Blog

Above, "Teacher Jonathan" reads One Fish Two Fish by Dr. Seuss to class six as a warm up to inspire their ideas for writing their own children's stories.