Kathryn W. Davis is a 105 year old philanthropist who sponsors a million dollars a year in $10,000 Peace projects designed and carried out by graduate students from around the United States. The International House in New York is a graduate housing institute that houses up to 700 students from around the world. This year, Kofi Deh, a Ghanaian student about to pursue his doctoral program in Medical Physics at Cornell University, was awarded this grant for a Peace and Conflict resolution proposal in Ghana with high school students as future leaders. Two International House residents joined him, Thomas Dyer from the United States who assisted the year before with a conflict resolution peace project in Arizona, and Shannon Bishop, a South African and former peace project recipient who works for LitLife Inc. as an educational consultant.
Shannon in the Classroom
The Peace and conflict resolution workshop was a two day intensive workshop covering leadership skills, public speaking and literacy. The workshop took place in a school, Boitianor m/a in a rural part of the greater Accra region. Twenty 13-15 year olds representing the 10 different regions of Ghana, a boy and a girl from each region, were selected to take part in teh program. Kofi and Tommy focused on Peace and Conflict Resolution and I worked on the literacy component and Public Speaking. LitWorld generously donated $200 worth of childrens books to start the library at Boitianor m/a.
The outcome of the public speaking session was to get each student to present their peace message to an audience which was the final day Durbar, a gathering of chiefs from neighboring villages, local politicians, representatives of organizations and parents and family of the students. Here we discussed ways that the elders and older community members could get involved and assist the younger generation with their peace initiatives. Our huge celebration was complete with representatives of local government, politicians and chiefs of neighboring villages.The NGO, NACIF, gave each child a t-shirt that said peace ambassador on the back.
While working with Boitianor m/a in a rural part of Accra, I was able to make a great contact, Mrs. Deh, affectionately known as Mama Deh. She is the coordinator and founder of the Needy African Child Foundation (NACIF). Her organization was who we partnered with to deliver the Peace and Conflict resolution workshops to the school. She suggested that the books we donated be given to Boitianor m/a school to start their library and she spoke with the headmaster about LitWorld literacy clubs. The headmaster, who was very excited about the LitClubs, said he would include his teachers as facilitators. Mrs Deh also mentioned that a volunteer at her organization, Nana Otu, be responsible as a monitor and chief facilitator for the clubs. Mama Deh is willing to identify schools and good facilitators who would be responsible for creating more LitClubs in Ghana.
Over the rest of our time in Ghana, we were working from the Accra region visiting local youth groups explaining what the project entails and how each group can create and spread peace messages to their peers.