1. Projects :

  • Cocoa farm :

A clever link between the chocolate makers from here and the cocoa trees from over there! (part 2)

As announced in the previous newsletter, the confectioners’ apprentices’ championship from canton de Vaud took place from April 27th to May 8th at the Léman Centre in Crissier. Our association was holding an information stall about ECSO and the cocoa farm of which the apprentices have become the official sponsors during the opening ceremony. On that occasion, we were also honoured to receive Mrs. Nee-Whang, the Ghanaian ambassador for Switzerland and Austria who said to be pleased to see this collaboration between young Swiss apprentices and Ghanaian students.

The competition and the exhibition of the chocolate pieces had much success which has mostly contributed to the excellent sale of chocolate bars and marzipan pieces all made by the apprentices. That sale allowed us to collect CHF 5400 !!! This amount has been taken to Ghana this summer to cover the expenditures of the cocoa farm, but also to sponsor the technical vocational school project. We really want to thank the great involvement of these youngster and their devotion, they did a great job!!!

For more information go to : www.lesconfiseursromands.ch

and www.epm.vd.ch/

  • Technical vocational school

We have started roofing the school thanks to the sale of chocolate this spring and also thanks to the fund raising organized during the 5th anniversary of volunteering at ESAASE. On that day, in addition to the donations that were made, several promises of donations in kind (cement, iron sheets) were made. The Chief District Executive has also been touched by the project and is ready to sponsor some children leaving ECSO willing to go to high school.

  • Water Purification Plant

A few years ago came to us the idea to purify the water from Mr Boateng’s well and to make it benefit the school pupils. This idea was improved last spring by a Belgian volunteer, Sylvie Steelandt, who, after having noticed how were produced the sachets of purified water sold on the market, proposed to Mr. Boateng to sponsor a similar project. The water is therefore pumped, filtered (carbon, UV, etc.) and transferred to a machine that fills in bags of 0.5 L and seals them once they are filled up. The Public health minister did the necessary analysis and has allowed the sale of the “ECO-Akwaaba Esaase” water! For a few months, then, the school has been selling its water and has been getting a profit from it. After such a success, a second machine, sponsored by a pharmaceutical company from Val-de-Travers (GMT Fine Chemicals SA) will be bought soon in order to increase the production.

This project is perfectly in line with Akwaaba Esaase’s and Mr Boateng’s view of a school that would be self-sufficient, financially speaking, in the mid-term. A great many thanks to all the people who made the Water Purification Plant Project possible!

2. Actions :

  • Sale of Ghanaian handcraft

This year, we decided not to sell calendars for 2011, but instead to let our Ghanaian friends show their skills, making bags that we are going to sell in the different markets. These are of different shapes, sizes and colours, with or without pocket, with zip or flap, for everyone’s taste!

  • Events - Dates to keep in mind – Stalls with sale of handcraft

Sunday 24th October, Musée d’Art et d’Histoire, Neuchâtel (CH)

Opening of the « chocolate week » organized by the chocolate makers from Neuchâtel and the MAH (Musée d’Art et d’Histoire). We’ll hold an information stall about our association, ECSO and the cocoa farm.

Friday 29th October from 8.00 am to 6.00 pm, autumn fair in Couvet (CH)

This year we are back to the autumn fair in Couvet!!! Be there and pass on the message!!!

Saturday 4th Sunday 5th December, Chapelle des Annonciades, Pontarlier (F)

Thanks to our new member Bénédicte, we’ will be present this year at an event in Pontarlier, France. Indeed, as part of the annual exhibition of the local section of Amnesty International, Awkaaba Esaase as well as two other local associations that support projects in South America and another Human Rights organization have been invited to hold stalls and sell handicraft. That will be perfect for your Christmas shopping!

3. Trip to Ghana 2010

3 weeks… the trip was definitely too short, but what a pleasure to see everyone again or – to those for whom it was the first time – to discover this welcoming country and see at last the results of a five-year work!!

In addition to the two volunteers that were already on the spot, Kim (USA) and Tabea (D) and to three previous volunteers, Emily (UK), Julie and Debora (CH), four people have discovered Ghana, have met for the first time the pupils and Mr. Boateng’s family. These were Oliver (UK), Bénédicte (F), and Alex and Silvana (CH).

It has been a very enriching experience for everyone and all had much pleasure in the different activities that were proposed. So, keep it in mind for the 10th anniversary in 2015…!!!

· Esaase, Kumasi, Pokuase and Owabi

During the first week, we visited the town, the school and its new facilities as well as the current projects. The orange farm is doing well, the professional school is about to get its roof and the cocoa trees from our cocoa farm in Pokuase (45 minutes away) have given their first pods!

Kumasi is a chaotic and polluted town and its visit can come down to the central market (the biggest covered market in West Africa) and that of the cultural centre.

After the first contact with the local customs, the 9 volunteers took part, with the help of the JHS pupils (secondary), to the reforestation of the Owabi National Park .The Owabi forest shelters the Owabi river that supplies Kumasi ( the second biggest city of the country) and the surrounding area. Unfortunately, more and more people build their house in an excessive way close to the forest endangering its survival (deforestation due to the use of wood for cooking or to allow new plantations such as maize).

The aim of our action was to inform local people about the presence of encroachers, the dangers of urbanization in the surroundings of the forest as well as about the importance to protect the quality of the Owabi water.

After having cleaned up a path around the forest with cutlasses, the pupils planted over 6000 teak trees, a plant that grows fast and easily and that is resistant. The “hedge” thus formed is the symbolic but as well the true limit that must prevent people from entering the protected area. The action was rather successful and the media talked about it in the newspapers and at the radio. The Ashantene (the king of Kumasi) was informed of the project and gave his official support to the ECSO action.

This project was completed through a one-day environmental conservation awareness campaign given by the volunteers in the form of workshop to the pupils of JHS. The tackled topics were: water cycle and water protection, the importance of the forest and trees and the use of wood, refuse disposal and the consequences of plastic pollution, the food chain and the dangers of unbalance due to the extinction of certain species of plants and animals.

We want to thank here Mr Boateng and all his pupils who had the idea of the reforestation project and we wish to thank all the volunteers for the great job they did during the workshops. Well done!!!

· Mole, Wechiau, Boabeng-Fiema, Kakum, Cape Coast

On the second week, we travelled through the country in order to visit a few touristic spots and discover another aspect of the Ghanaian culture, especially in the north, mainly Muslim.

In the Northern region, the Mole National Park is famous for its elephants, its baboons and its warthogs. We have been lucky enough to see a few of these animals as well as different species of antelopes (kobs, bush bucks and water bucks) and birds.

The Wechiau sanctuary is in the Upper East region and along the Volta River that makes the border between Ghana and Burkina Faso. This nature reserve is a protected area that promotes eco-tourism, protects the hippos and gives support to local communities. Although the rainy season, and therefore the high level of the river, did not allow us to see the hippos very well, our stay in the traditional mud walls guest house without electricity nor current water, in the middle of nowhere and under a starry sky has surely been the most appreciated moment by everyone! It is not given to everyone to eat pasta in the savanna with the sound of the tam-tam in the background!

After three days spent in the north and having tasted the dust of the dirt roads (!!!) we got back to the centre of the country. There, we separated in two groups and while Julie and Alex went rock climbing at Techiman, the others went to the Boabeng-Fiema sanctuary, so called after the name of two towns where people worship the Mona monkeys as well as the black and white Colobes. These two species have always been protected by the forefathers of the towns’ dwellers, because they are considered sacred. There is even a cemetery dedicated to them in the forest.

After a stop at Esaase, we left again for the south coast and the Kakum National Park where stands one of the 5 bridge-trails at canopy height in the world. On the next day we went to visit the sadly famous Cape Coast fort where the slaves were imprisoned before leaving for the American continent. An enriching and touching trip, strong and unforgettable images…

· Durbar and handcraft

The Ashanti region is the birth place of a great variety of handcraft in West-Africa, which is perfect to supply our stalls in Switzerland! Thanks to Obadeè, the school bus driver who must be greatly thanked for his kindness and his availability, we were able to visit around, as long as we were back when class ended! We were therefore able to visit a few towns that are recognized for their handcraft. First stop, a town where only men are allowed to carry on the tradition of kente weaving on wooden looms. In Ntonso, we discover the printing method on material called adinkra that is usually worn on funerals. In Awhia, beautiful wooden statuettes, masks as well as Ashanti dolls were sold by their sculptors. Finally, in Darbaa, we learnt how glass beads are made before they become part of bracelets or necklaces.

Eventually came the day we were all waiting for! On July 29th the “big durbar” took place, the celebration of the 5th anniversary of volunteering at ECSO. The school yard got cleaned up, chairs and tents were put up, ribbons were hung and the pupils dressed ready to perform traditional dances. Once all the invited people were there, the celebration started at last. In addition to the many speeches that were given we assisted to a great numbers of traditional and modern dances, listened to poems and tales read by the youngest ones, as well as to the songs of the famous Ashanti singer Mama Esther who also raised the bidding for the fund raising. On the next day, the speakers were still there so that everyone, children, parents and volunteers could keep on dancing to the rhythm of Ghanaian “hip-life” music!

Farewells were painful, as usual, but we promise, we are coming back!

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