Blog

A moment with Pat and Allotey

Take a seat with Pat Wilkins (Founder and Executive Director) and Allotey Bruce Kanuah (Assistant Director)

Pat and Allotey have been working together at BASICS for almost fifteen years. During that time they have overcome many challenges together, and shaped the organisation into what it is today.

In this interview they speak about some of the difficult circumstances faced by the children of Chorkor, and discuss the challenges they have faced in working with the community, where education is too often seen as a privilege or a luxury, instead of a basic human right.

This video was produced by one of our NYU Volunteers in January 2014

“Chorkor” by Tonya Ingram

In spring of 2012, NYU student Tonya Ingram volunteered at BASICS. She tutored children and brought her love of poetry to BASICS, creating a poetry class for the children.

Tonya was the 2011 New York Knicks Poetry Slam champion, a member and co-founder of NYU’s poetry slam team, a member of the 2011 Urban Word-NYC team, the 2013 Nuyorican Grand Slam team and the 2015 Da Poetry Lounge Slam team.

A note from Tonya:

While interning at B.A.S.I.C.S International, I learned how to laugh, live, learn, serve and love. Thank you for opening your doors and your hearts. I am proud of all of you and cannot wait to hear about your upcoming success.

I MISS YOU!

Chorkor

In Chorkor,
Fishermen of Ga
Salute the Ghanaian sun
With fire
While children
Spit their
Castles back into ocean
And carry wind underneath tongue
Speak of belonging
To hills of trash
Empires of rubbish
Masked beneath sand
But I’ve watched
Brown bodies twirl &
Mud children
With dusted smiles
And sunset cheekbones
Dance azonto
Blessed is their head
How it carries
How it stores like an ark
How it is breaking cycles
Of the loss their parents
Were not taught &
As I sit
Adjacent to Belinda
I watch her read
Sometimes stumbling
But knowing it is part of the process
Of learning
And as I depart
I take with me their stories
And leave mine behind
For the moments we realize
Time will meet us again
For though I am gone
We became family
In Chorkor,
Where fisherman salute
The Ghanaian sun
With fire

The Board of Directors grows

Fellow board members Ms Pat Wilkins, Mrs Sandy Bright, Mrs Stephanie Aladenoye, Mr Scott O’Halloran, Mrs Ronya Foy and Mrs Lenora Gates welcomed four new members in September 2015:

Mr Kweku Fleming
Ghana, DC

Kweku Fleming is a design consultant who collaborates with companies and inventors to develop new products and innovations to existing products. Since 1992, he has served in the consumer goods, telecommunications, and manufacturing, developing products that range from wireless telephones to designer luggage. Fleming earned an B.S. in electrical engineering and an M.S. in mechanical engineering and product design from Stanford University. He has worked with companies such as Walt Disney Imagineering, Embarq, Jet Blue, Alcoa, and the United States Patent and Trademark Office.

Kweku’s Favorite Things: Sunny beaches, rhythm & blues, Live performances & prawns!!!

Kewku Fleming

Dr Kehinde ‘Kenny’ Ajayi
Boston, Ghana

Kenny Ajayi first learned about BASICS when she met Pat in Ghana over ten years ago. Since then, she has visited Chorkor several times and was deeply inspired by the commitment BASICS has made to supporting children in this community. She looks forward to becoming more involved in BASICS as a board member and is excited about the future of this dynamic organisation.

Based in Boston USA, Kenny is an assistant professor of economics. She teaches courses on economic development and her current research focuses on education and youth employment in Africa. She has spent several years studying the secondary school admission system in Ghana and is passionate about improving educational opportunities for underprivileged students.

Kenny’s favourite things: dancing, sunshine, mangoes, listening to the ocean

Kenny_BoardMember

Lily Kpobi
Accra, Ghana

Lily Kpobi is assistant lecturer and clinical psychologist from Ghana where she works with various groups of women and children in understanding mental health and well-being. She first got involved with BASICS as an intern in 2012, and worked with the children and staff of BASICS in individual and group sessions. Despite the fact that her internship officially ended three years ago, she has continued to be a part of the BASICS families through child interventions and staff development.

Lily has two Masters’ degrees, the second of which focused on evaluating existing structures and systems in mental healthcare. Her research areas have included understanding the unique roles played by cultural factors in mental health in Ghana, in order to inform better interventions, particularly in women and children. She looks forward to sharing these insights to support BASICS in its drive for change at the community level. 

Lily’s favourite things: traveling, all kinds of music and God!

Lily Kpobi

Jess O’Farrell
Melbourne, Australia

Jess O’Farrell is a digital producer from Melbourne, Australia. She was first introduced to BASICS in 2009 when she volunteered for 2 months. During her stay she tutored girls in the IGAP program, and ran an extracurricular class with students who were interested in film making. The class wrote a script, and starred in their very own film: BASIC STUFF.

Jess studied Media and Communications at RMIT University and thrives on her job as a video Producer in Melbourne. She has worked on short films, feature films, documentaries and corporate video, and is passionate about video as a form of communication. Jess enjoys combining her passion for production with international development, and is travelling back to Ghana in April 2016 to create video content for us.

Jess’s favourite things: Harry Potter, Survivor, and Kele wele!


JessOFarrell

Student art work – Lillian Afladey

Lillian Afladey Drawing

Drawing by Lillian Afladey, 13 years old, 6th Grade

You’re never too old to Volunteer…

Give a little: Get a LOT

The story of Grandma Dee, 86 years old

I would like to share with you some of my experience volunteering in the BASICS International summer camp this past August and September (2015.) Although I was only able to be there two hours twice weekly, for six weeks, I found it was one of the most rewarding experiences of my life. A long life, I might add, now that I am 86 years old.

Most of my time there was spent with the beading class, who welcomed me warmly every morning.  Two of the girls, Mercy and Joann designed and made a lovely green beaded bracelet (I helped a little) that I gave to my daughter for her September birthday.

A few times I was assigned to assist in the crocheting class. I informed the students that I was a knitter, and had never learned to crochet. Well, within minutes of sitting down, a pile of yarn and crochet hook was placed in front of me, and two girls immediately gave me lessons on how to make a purse.

Whenever I had to navigate the stairs to the different classrooms, (there are no hand railings to hold on to) within seconds one or two students or staff held my elbows and guided me safely up and down the staircase.

Staff members rescued me immediately when I looked lost or puzzled about where to go next. Someone was always there in the blink of an eye to guide me. I shall always treasure their warmth and welcoming.

The most moving experience was the farewell ceremony on my last day. The students and staff presented me with a certificate (framed and hanging on my wall here in California) two books made by the students, beads, a BASICS tee shirt, and several other goodies which I treasure. They started singing a goodbye song, which brought tears (happy and sad tears) to my eyes.

For a rich and rewarding experience to anyone who visits Ghana, volunteer at BASICS International, try it, you’ll like it.

Grandma dee

Grandma Dee

Student work – A poem by Augustina Nettey

Today we bring you more wonderful work from the students of BASICS.

In her poem, Augustina describes the people of her community Chorkor as happy and hopeful! BASICS is hopeful too.

Chorkor, the village in which we work, lives below the poverty line, suffering from lack of infrastructure, lack of funding, and social and cultural customs keeping the community trapped in cycles of poverty. Augustina is hopeful that her community will rise out of poverty with her, as she embraces education and empowers herself to create positive change in her life, and her community.

Augustina Nettey is 16 years old and is in Junior High school 2.

Sponsoring children like Augustina helps sustain her dream, and our dream; that no-one should be living in poverty. End hunger, end illiteracy and end child labor. Donate today.

Porem - Augustina Nettey

Student work – A poem by Freda Nettey

We are very proud of our hard working students here at BASICS!

Today we’d like to share with you a poem written by Freda Nettey. Freda is 14 years old, and is in Junior High School 2

Freda understands that her education is instrumental in shaping her future. Below she writes “I belong” and “[BASICS] is the stepping stone of my success.”

Freda is changing the story of girls in Chorkor! Freda says yes to education, and no to poverty

Poem - Freda Nettey

Celebration dinner with the 2nd lady

In January 2014, BASICS was recognised by the wife of the Vice President, Mrs. Matilda Amissah Arthur, for the work we are doing in Chorkor. A grand dinner reception was organised at the Fiesta Royale hotel, where esteemed guests gathered to celebrate our work, and fundraise for the vital funds needed for the upkeep of BASICS.

A selection of students enjoyed the dinner along with Pat Wilkins and other BASICS staff.

We are proud to share our impact!

Water Tanks

In 2009, the government water supply was shut off in Chorkor. Since then, BASICS has had no choice but to purchase water. TIt was an incredible financial burden on our centre. Water would be delivered via a truck to fill our tank. This cost approximately 200.00 GHC (equivalent to $65.00 USD.) With over 150 children in and out of the centre each day, we were emptying out tank twice a month. In addition, drinking water had to be purchased, as the source of the water being delivered was not secured, and we could not risk using it to cook or drink.   

In 2014, two volunteers; a mother and daughter duo witnessed this burden on BASICS, and decided to raise money on our behalf. The funds were used to purchase two additional tanks; which would harvest rain water; which can be used to flush toilets, clean and water plants. This has helped us tremendously. Thank you Audrey and Mia Hall (and Friends.)

WaterTank

MTN Heroes of Change

In 2014, a crew from international telecom MTN, spent time at BASICS international getting to know Founder and Executive Director Pat Wilkins. During their stay they heard stories of how BASICS began, Why Pat came to Ghana, the vision for the future of our organization, and just how BIG the impact BASICS is making in Chorkor.

We are so proud of Pat, and congratulate her for being recognised for being a hero of Change.

BUT… of course, we already knew she was a hero!!