A class act
Jones Viduku and Judith Otabel, both 19-year-old students, have vastly improved the prospects of children, in and around the Ghanaian village of Pepease, thanks to an idea that came to them whilst undertaking the Adventurous Journey section of their Silver Award.
During their expedition, Jones and Judith got to see the real issues facing Pepease and its nearby communities; a lack of portable drinking water, no electricity and poor health facilities exacerbated by a high rate of illiteracy among children of school-going age. Many children were simply not motivated to attend school because of the region’s poverty and those who did were often frustrated by the lack of learning materials and aids.
Their passion to be part of the problem solving process encouraged Jones and Judith to put together an action plan to help achieve primary education for all young people in their community. Using the knowledge and skills gained from the Award and engaging the support of other Bronze and Silver participants, Jones and Judith set up a community development project to persuade Pepease children of the benefits of gaining skills and education to enable them to improve their lives.
Implementing their idea
Jones and Judith began by involving themselves in classroom teaching, conducting a house-to-house campaign to convey to parents the importance of education, and teaching young people about important issues such as teenage pregnancy and HIV/AIDS. Teaching materials and learning aids were donated to students to facilitate their learning process and, after 3 years, the initiative has become truly sustainable with an increased number of volunteers involved.
Making an impact
Previously, attendance levels at schools in poverty-stricken Pepease were very low. The project has now had a significant impact on the community involved with around 90 school children being reached directly and over 500 parents communicated with in the first year alone. Attendance levels at schools have improved and children see the benefits of education more clearly.
The project has grown and now concentrates on groups of 17–23 year old Award participants helping out in primary and junior schools in the area.
Activating support from others has been a major hurdle faced by Jones and Judith. Undeterred, they have not only won support for the project from senior figures in the local community but also encouraged a large number of Award participants to take part by convincing them of the personal benefits to be gained through volunteering. All learning materials and aids were fundraised locally as support for the project grew.
Commenting on the project Judith said: “This project has really transformed me, I was once shy and inactive, but now I have learnt to interact with other young people, work together with them so as to find solutions to societal problems. I would love more young people to join us in this noble cause.”
Jones and Judith are now Gold participants and the project served as their Residential Project for their Gold Award.