Ever since the first group of volunteers touched the soil of Ghana some six decades ago, many lives have been positively impacted and destinies changed for the good of society.
The little things that make life better when done wholeheartedly in the midst of lack of resources and difficulties, leave indelible sweet memories on the minds of beneficiaries as their lives are touched in a very different but special way.
So is the story of a large number of people who have had the opportunity to be served as United States Peace Corps Volunteers in Ghana.
The Peace Corps is an independent agency and volunteer programme run by the United States Government to provide International social and economic development assistance to underserved communities. The Programme offers opportunity to motivated change-makers to partake in community work abroad as they join hands with local leaders to solve pertinent issues in their localities to give hope to the vulnerable and the deprived.
The Country received its first Volunteers on March 1, 1961 when the then US President John F Kennedy dispatched 23 young Americans to render dedicated services in the areas of health, agriculture, community development, education and business orientation.
They were given words of encouragements by President Kennedy before departing to Ghana to be entrusted in the care of Ghana’s First President, Dr Kwame Nkrumah.
They truly delivered to the best of their abilities, sometimes in difficult situations and there had not been a turning back ever since.
More than 5000 Volunteers have since, been posted to the Country to further strengthen the bond of friendship between the United States of America and Ghana as they work hand-in-hand to improve conditions in their areas of operations, impacting lives and building local economies among many other areas of their assignments.
A campus was opened at Saltpond in the Mfantseman Municipality of the Central Region in the early 1990s where the Volunteers were received on arrival from the United States amidst fanfare to welcome them into the Country and given orientation, sworn-in afterwards, before they were deployed to all the Regions of the Country.
That Campus though very relevant as indigenes had the opportunity to interact, sell and learn from their visitors before postings, was closed down sometime in the year 2,000 and the facility handed over to the Ghana Education Service.
Celebrating sixty years in Ghana
The Peace Corps has a lot to celebrate about, with pump and pageantry come Monday, March 1, 2021, even in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic as it turns sixty, because it has achieved so much successes in numerous localities across the Country that needed to be highlighted.
Some of the stories captured by the GNA throughout the Country are captivating and impressive, especially when the volunteers had braved the storm to bring hope and smiles to the faces of the vulnerable.
Beneficiaries of these magnanimous services cut across many villages in every Region of Ghana.
In the Northern Region, Yakubu Zakaria, a worker with the Health sector told the GNA, that three volunteers have been to his area since he joined the Service with the first being
Mickey Sobil from 2016 – 2018.
Sobil provided boreholes to the Pusiga community in the Karaga district of the Region and also helped to build Solar panels and household latrines to curtail open defecation.
Second Volunteer, Corner Wish, continued in 2018- 2020, providing polytanks to assist constant water flow in the community. He also built latrines in various households to end open defecation in Kalega community in the Northern Region.
The third volunteer, Nicolas Constantin reported in 2020 but had returned due to the Coronavirus pandemic.
First volunteer Christopher Hill served in the Kuldanali community in the Savelegu municipality in the Northern Region.
Between the year 2014-2016, Ms Bechney begun her services in the Brodada community in the Jasikan district which now fall under Oti Region.
On education, the public-spirited personnel renovated Brodada EP Junior High School. She also taught mathematics and science as part of her commitment to improve teaching and learning.
The peace ambassador encouraged and formed reading and writing clubs to enable more children to learn how to read and write. Through her efforts, more than 3000 people received free reading glasses.
To inculcate the habit of environmental cleanliness and personal hygiene in pupils, she formed sanitation clubs and this has significantly improved sanitation in the area, culminating in the reduction of malaria cases in the community and its environs.
At the community level, she helped to vaccinate animals against rabies among others.
Her impeccable achievement made the community to enstool her the Development Queen Mother of Brodada, highly commending her and praying for her return to the village.
Summer Elliot who served from 2017-2019 embarked on vigorous water extension supply to cover more than 10,000 water poor people in Miameni in Jaman South of the Bono Region.
He trained more than 500 cashew farmers and schooled them on prunning, spraying and bee keeping. That significantly, gave a strong boost to the local economy, as their yields increased.
On good nutrition, he trained mothers on preparation of good nutritious foods for their babies and the essence of exclusive breastfeeding, Mr Yaw Beneh told the GNA.
Madam Grace Adu of the Koforidua School for the Deaf, revealed how Angela Thanks was posted to the School in 1992 to 1993 and later served another year in 1994.
She enthusiastically introduced vocational training for mentally retarded children and students with special needs, helping them to make doormats, textile printing (tie/dye) repair of machine parts, vocational training, leather works and sewing.
Because of her determination and commitment to duty, seven more volunteers were posted to the school afterwards.
Their services had impacted greatly on the students and the entire community with many of the former students with special needs now in skillful employment fending for themselves and easing the burden that would have been on their families.
These stories resonate in all communities the dedicated Volunteers found themselves. The Cape Coast School for the Deaf and Blind has had its fair share of the services and both students and tutors have benefited from it.
From the North to the South, East to West and beyond, American Peace Corps Volunteers posted into the Country for the past six decades, have demonstrated patriotism, dedication, selfishness and love for humanity.
They have tirelessly worked to bring about the desired change in their adopted communities and the successes chalked have become an integral part of their folklore which is being told now and re-echo into the future.
By Alice Tettey