Nuobok-Nkenzesi Village, Ghana

Children, their new school and water tank. For many years children from Nuobok-Nkenzesi had to walk 15 kilometres to school each day! This meant that children didn’t begin school until they were nine or ten (old enough to walk that distance). Imagine!

In 2004, First United Church began this project by raising funds to complete the school in this village. We were able to raise over $7,000 which completed the school building and provided most of the furnishings and school supplies. But the school fees were still too much of a barrier for poor families and any money available was usually used to send boys to school.

New furniture

We at First United call it The Girl Child Education Fund but in Ghana it is referred to as the Kawon Bogre Girl Child Education Foundation (DABGCEF). We continue to contribute to this fund for girl students and have provided help to finish the village school, provide furniture, books, a water tank and other needed items. These amounts include donations by people outside our First United Church community.

The fund was started in 2004 to address the gender gap in education in the rural villages of Myobok-Nkunzesi located in Northern Ghana. Vida Yakong is the founder of the project which is dedicated to her late mother, Kawon Brogre. She supported women to achieve gender equality and worked hard as the women’s group leader of these villages until her passing away in 1992.

Donkeys and ploughs

One student received sponsorship in 2004. Now with First United Church’s immense contribution there are 70 students, 66 of them girls, receiving sponsorship. Seven of the students have qualified to attend senior high school, an unheard of happening ten years ago.

As well as tuition for the students, the funds are used to provide a school lunch program, uniforms, text books, exercise books etc. The people in the village plant and tend a garden on donated land to raise beans, rice and maize for the school lunch program. The women in the village take turns cooking the lunch. Parents of the girls being supported agree to pay 20% of the school fees, the students sign a contract to study and do well in school.

Happy kids

Kay Braby, a member of our congregation, during the year that she spent in Ghana, visited the main village and met the majority of students who are being supported.

Another piece of good news from the village of Nuobok-Nkenzesi, where the school is located, is that WorldVision agreed to drill a bore hole on the school property. This has ensured a continuous supply of safe water for the students and the people in the village. The bore hole means that the children and women will save a great deal of time by not having to carry their water from sources further away.

In February, 2011, some fourth year nursing students from Canada visited the rural schools where we sponsor some of the students. This is a quote from the blog of one of the students:

Girls out of school

We travelled to four schools, from primary to senior secondary, to speak with the girls who had been sponsored. Speaking to them was the most amazing experience and it was so uplifting. Many spoke of being married with two children at the age of 16 if they were not given the opportunity to go to school. They told me that they would instead be working the farm, cooking meals and raising children if education was not an option. I got to see firsthand how eduction changed teh path of thse young girls who now speak of aspiring to be nurses, teachers, journalists and doctors. They thanked everyone who sponsored them. They said that would work hard to fulfill their dreams and would not forget all that people in Canada have done for them.

For the remarkable story about how First United became involved with the people of Nuobok-Nkenzesi, scroll down below the photos and read the story of Vida Yakong.

Please consider donating to this project. Cheques should be payable to First United Church and marked “Ghana Project”. Contact the church office for envelopes and gift cards.

The Story of Vida Yakong

Vida in Washington

Vida (pronounced Vie-da) Yakong grew up in the small community of Nuobok-Nkenzesi in Northern Ghana. She and her sister were the only girls of their generation who received an education.  She worked as a nurse, then completed a two year Rural Nurse Practitioner course at the University of Development Studies(UDS)  in Tamale, Northern Ghana. This two year programme was developed with CIDA funding by Okanagan University College, (now the University of British Columbia Okanagan) and UDS.

In 2004, Vida came to Kelowna and completed her BScN (nursing) at Okanagan University College. She returned to Ghana to teach nursing at the University of Development Studies in Northern Ghana until the fall of 2006, when she returned to UBC Okanagan, to begin her Masters in Nursing studies.

Ten Award Winners

Vida returned to Ghana in the summer of 2007 to do her research on what influences women in making decisions regarding the use birth control, and whether to seek medical care.  She discovered that the women had limited access to money that would allow them to make choices about their own sexual health.  She returned to Kelowna, and worked with other students and UBCO faculty and staff to create the project “Ghana Rural Opportunities for Women”.  The women in Ghana had clearly identified what resources they needed to become self-sufficient.

In September, 2008, Vida began her PhD studies at UBCO. The next year, she travelled to Washington, DC, to receive one of ten World Bank awards given to international female students who have made a difference to the women in their country.

Focus Group on Reproductive Health

How did Vida became connected with First United in salmon Arm?  The year Vida was in Kelowna studying for her BScN, Joyce Henderson, a member of First United, went to Ghana to teach nursing for two months. Vida told her to visit her sister, Philomena, a midwife and public health nurse. Joyce spent a week with Philomena and felt welcomed into the family. Vida considers the Hendersons her Canadian family. Joyce introduced her to the First United community, and the relationship and story has unfolded since then.