By now, if you are a good little tortoise, you have already read yesterday’s article. Well done!
If you are a bad little bunny, however, and haven’t done your reading (tsk, tsk, tsk, punk!), here’s the summary: the African version of the “Tortoise and the Hare” folktale teaches us that working together as a team, we can surmount giant obstacles.
So today we turn to the concrete: HOW exactly can we work together to create positive change, just like those brotherly African tortoises? What are SPECIFIC ways that each of us can contribute our special somethin’ somethin’ to the inspirational work of Youth Creating Change, Ghana, and its lovely partner, Bright Star Vision USA?
What follows is a delightful menu of options for chipping in, with ways for the rich, poor, short, and tall among us to give genuine help to great people who will deeply appreciate it. Dig in!
A.) Hand or mail donations to Marla Ludwig or other volunteers who are flying to Ghana soon.
Marla Ludwig, Bright Star Vision USA‘s founder, is flying to Ghana at the end of March (and– yay!– I’ll get to hang out with her here!), which means that if you have any items you would like to donate to Youth Creating Change, Marla can transport them over for you, provided you can get them to her in Hartford, Connecticut.
Here are some suggested donations that would be particularly useful for YCC:
1. Used or new clothing, books, educational supplies, board games, pens and markers (including dry erase whiteboard markers), and anything else you think the youth, educators, and communities of Ghana may find useful. All items will be used and appreciated, truly.
2. First Aid and general medical supplies, as Marla is in the process of launching a clinic in the town of Dalive.
3. Memory sticks/ thumb drives/ pen drives for computers. Because we are working with extremely limited computers and even more limited internet and printer access, memory sticks are desperately needed in order to transfer documents (ex: penpal letters and drafts of student articles) from one computer to another.
Note: All these photos (besides the first one, which was taken at YCC Kids Club) were snapped during Penpal Letter Writing Class at Living Faith School in Sogakope. Sweet, studious students!
4. Old laptops. Many of the schools with which YCC partners have exactly zero computers, meaning students have exactly zero access to the technology of tomorrow. Therefore, we are currently launching a program in which we bring YCC’s single, used laptop (kindly donated by Bright Star Vision USA) around to each school every week so students can have at least a few minutes of computer practice as they type penpal letters. The kids have been so appreciative of any time they can get with the technology, and without a doubt, this twenty-first century education will be invaluable to them in the future.
5. 3G portable USB modems to plug into individual computers for internet access. These little modems are our lifeblood for maintaining international partnerships, as well as our penpal program!
Thanks to kind donations, we currently have two of these modems, which we are sharing between the YCC classrooms, four partners schools, and the YCC guesthouse. Needless to say, any extra donations of these modems would be VERY much appreciated!
6. Dream list of large, bulky items that Marla can kindly help pack and ship: sound system equipment (microphones), projectors, plastic chairs, and printer toner/ink (contact me for model specifics).
7. Want to help, but have no clue where to find those strange modems? Want YCC to have chairs to sit on, but think it’s a bit of a hassle to ship them across the sea? Financial donations (which, I assure you, will be used extremely responsibly and efficiently!) are the ultimate form of help.
You may request a specific project that the donations would go to, for example: the Britain-Ghana Exchange Program, the Reading Clubs library project, the water filter program, the YCC Educational Tours Program, the construction of the rescued child boarding house, etc.
Contact information for donating to YCC through Bright Star Vision is at the bottom of BSV’s website: http://brightstarvision.org/ . Hooray and thanks!
B.) Ways You Can Help out in Person:
1. Are you bopping around America’s Northeast? Attend the February 20 Ghana fundraiser put on by Bright Star Vision USA in Hartford, Connecticut! It will be a ridiculously good time… and all for a good cause. (I’m a little jealous that I can’t attend this myself, so go and have fun for me… and bid on some gorgeous Ghanaian crafts!)
2. Consider spending even a short time in Ghana to volunteer! You have so many wonderful skills to contribute, and YCC would love to learn from you, while teaching you so much in turn!
YCC’s Director, John, is brilliant at using a person’s learned and natural talents to the fullest extent, so don’t think YCC is only looking for teachers like little me. Rather, YCC has links with a huge variety of projects, and is open to adding more if you see a need and are inspired.
Feel free to email me if you would like any more information on this at [email protected] . Trust me: I’ve been traveling around the world for nearly six months straight now, and these months I’m spending here volunteering for YCC have been the best part of all!
3. If you have just a few days to spend in Ghana, consider staying at the YCC Guesthouse! You will be treated like family, and all proceeds go directly to helping kids in Sogakope.
4. Are you in or around Europe? Youth Creating Change’s amazing British partner, Kingston Youth Service, is working extremely hard to raise the daunting funds needed to bring YCC students to London this August for the return half of an amazing educational exchange. If you want to be put in touch with them to help out, let me know!
C.) Send Donations through the Internet or Mail!
1. On the right side of this blog, you will see a handy Paypal donation button. All these donations go directly to YCC projects, and you may specify in your message what you wish the money to be used for. Thanks already to the kind donors who have already clicked and contributed! I will have photos and reports of the great ways your funds are being used sent to you soon.
2. If you want to ship a package directly to YCC, contact me or Marla for the address and for tips.
So there’s your delicious menu of options for ways to help!
I am fully aware that times are tough and you have a million obligations…
OR on the off chance that you are passing through West Africa and aren’t sure how to spend your time…
OR on the off chance that you have a ton of surplus toddler clothes….
…well, now you know what to do!
The author, Lillie Marshall, is 6-foot-tall National Board Certified Teacher of English, fitness fan, and mother of two who has been a public school educator since 2003. She launched Around the World “L” Travel and Life Blog in 2009, and over 3.7 million readers have now visited this site. Lillie also runs TeachingTraveling.com and DrawingsOf.com. Subscribe to her monthly newsletter, and follow @WorldLillie on social media!