We began our journey as we left school on the evening of 3 July, travelling through the night and the following day to arrive in the warm, welcoming heat of Accra, Ghana. From the moment we left the anticipation grew as, together, we looked forward to making friends, serving each other and showing that when people are united, no matter where they come from, they can achieve something incredible.
We arrived at Dutch Komenda, our partner school, early afternoon on Tuesday 5 July. We were greeted in an amazing, loving and welcoming manner. Not just the school children, buddies and teachers, but representatives of the whole community were waiting to greet us. Our time in Dutch Komenda started with a party and everyone was invited. Our mission was clear: our two communities were joining together to effect a positive change for the school and the town as we strove to help improve the teaching and learning for everyone involved.
We had agreed that together we would help develop this through the following projects:
• Painting the Kindergarten building
• Painting the Primary School building
• Making the Kindergarten buildings and classrooms a place for the children to learn through displays and murals
• Creating a playground for the Kindergarten children
• Creating a staff room for the teachers to work and share good practice
To complete these tasks to a high standard was an ambitious target and one that could only be achieved if we truly worked as one team. Our students teamed up with a group of students from Dutch Komenda Basic Catholic School and together we began work on the projects. The school was to be externally painted to reflect the school’s colours – green and white – and the classrooms were designed to reflect great learning and an inspiring place to teach. The playground was designed and we employed a local carpenter to make the more technical parts of the build and a local welder to make the play equipment. The projects were hard work for all, students worked solidly through the 10 days we were there alongside their buddies and I am delighted to say that because of this genuine teamwork, we completed all that we had set out to do.
Overall, our time in Dutch Komenda was a time of growth, togetherness, respect and mutual love and these qualities were embodied in the physical difference that we made to the school. Witnessing children use a slide for the first time in their life, hearing the pride in the voices of those people who worked in and were taught at the school as they found a building which reflected their identity and inspired them to be the best they can be was a reward beyond our imaginations. The bonds of love which grew between us all made leaving a difficult time, but the team left knowing that they have made a positive difference, not just to the school, but to the lives of all those who see the school as a central part of life in Dutch Komenda. We know that the students who returned to Emmanuel bring back with them hope that they can continue to make a change for good in the world, faith that God is with them in all they do and most importantly, love for our global family and a belief that through working together we can achieve far more than working alone.