By Zach Armstrong
PRINCE GEORGE, Va -- The Prince George Rotary Club partnered with rotary clubs in Ghana helping build a six-classroom facility in Hiamankyene and a four-classroom preschool in Sunyani.
The first school the club partnered with to build is in Hiamankyene within their rotarians who are partnered with Prince George’s. The school is a six-classroom facility with a multipurpose room, headmaster office, solar lighting and solar electricity. Laptops have ‘internet in a box’ meaning they don’t have to be connected to the internet but they'll have access to encyclopedias and research materials while using them. The project began in fall of 2019 after a $130,000 grant to build the facility was approved.
The community will have no other lights in their community other than the ones built in the school system. The closest school to the community before construction of the new one is 15 miles away which children have had to walk to. The school will also have the community’s first library available.
The District Chief Executive invested in the project and there was a commitment made from the school district to absorb the school into their system in order to provide a licensed teacher and textbooks.
After investment for the first school project, the club decided they would do a second school project dedicated to the club’s former president Earl Hale who passed away in 2019. The second school project is a four-classroom preschool with solar panels. The club built into their grant to build toilets for the preschool in addition to the system’s Elementary School and High School so that students will have toilets until they graduate. Teacher training began for the school with student enrollment at over 100 for the upcoming fall semester.
Shel Douglas of the Prince George Rotarians made the observation that community members in Ghana would often come to help construction workers building the schools by bringing them water and fans.
“It’s a big festivity when the ribbon is cut for the school because these children were not given a chance to get an education before, so it makes the opportunity there,” said Douglas. “We would like to think we are changing the legacy of, not just individual children, but maybe the entire country.”
For many years, the club has been supporting water and sanitation projects in Ghana putting water and wells in various remote communities. They often build a toilet design called ‘Micro Flush Toilets’ which use earthworms as digester so that the earthworms digest solid matter and leave behind compost helping soils and agriculture in those communities. These projects help prevent defecation from spreading in those communities.
Rotarians write grant submissions to the Rotary Foundations where members around the world make contributions which the foundation offers opportunities for grant projects. The Prince George Rotary Club submitted grants of $60,000 for the preschool and $130,000 for the six-classroom facility.
This year, the Prince George Rotary club received $150,000 for projects within the community to make it more livable for families. Recent projects include a kayak launch, sanitization station at the Appomattox Regional Park and installing an accessible swing at Scott Park.