Since the hit of the world’s greatest pandemic, people have had to rethink how the future would need to be to make it a better place for all. It has not favoured the poor nor the rich; it has caused more panic to this generation than any other pandemic.
With the virus affecting thousands of lives every day, the situation has not only harmed health but also the economy, leading to millions of jobs lost and causing hunger to those that live their lives hand to mouth.
As an organisation, we have been obviously affected by the pandemic. Economically, we know some donors are not in a financial position to donate to us at the moment and fundraising events have all had to been cancelled. It has also affected our day to day running since all schools were shut; we had to quickly shift to working in different ways in order to still make an impact and help those in need.
Pen to Paper Ghana has, in these hard days, raised funds to provide food for families of our students and people in the rural villages that we currently work in. So far, we have distributed 230 food packs to help families during the lockdown period. We give a massive thanks to all of you who chose to still make others’ lives better during these hard times.
For many of the communities that we work in, water is a limited resource with there being as little as one well for the whole village. With the known fact that washing hands can reduce the chances of spreading the virus, we have been able to provide 9 hand washing stations to different communities to help reduce the spread of Covid-19. Each hand washing station was placed in a busy part of the village, usually by the bus station and with the collaboration of the elders of each village, certain people were put in charge of filling the hand washing station and ensuring the soap we donated was replenished.
When lockdown was lifted in Ghana and the Government eased the restriction of public meetings, certain year groups were allowed to go back to school in order for them to complete their final exams. At the point, we took the opportunity to speak to the chiefs of the villages who kindly allowed us to use large facilities, such as church halls, to run our free, literacy classes for teenagers who were still at home. Our main focus was to ensure we were abiding by the social distancing rules, so having a large space was essential. With the generous support from Fashion-Able Ghana, we distributed 100 personal protection equipment to our students and their families. Each bag of PPE consisted of a face mask, a bottle of hand sanitiser and soap.
We also noticed that many of our pupils were coming to the classes hungry, so when Mummy and Me Ghana reached out to see how they could help, we decided that providing breakfast for the students would be the best thing. Before each class, we are now giving a breakfast to each of our pupils, which has totalled 640 breakfasts and, it is also helping provide an income to a couple of ladies in each village who are cooking the hearty breakfasts.
It was a difficult decision to decide whether to start classes again, but with ensuring social distancing rules, we are so glad we did as the students were eager to get back to some form of normality. We specifically chose those who needed most support for the classes and within a few weeks, these teenagers were going from reading three letter words (that we had taught them before lockdown), to now reading 5 or more letter words, as well as reading simple sentences in full.
The virus has caused a lot of anxiety and fear within the villages and there seemed to be a lack of understanding and education about coronavirus. We, therefore, took part in creating awareness of the Covid-19 pandemic. In each village, there is an information point, where there is a microphone that links to speakers throughout the village. We used this to speak to the community, to educate and break any stigma about the virus.
Although the virus is still prevalent and cases are rising in Ghana, things have gone back to partial normality. As an organisation, we’ve been discussing how else we can help. We are not sure when schools will fully open, but we are predicting that this will happen in the next month or two, as technically it is the summer holidays now. With the directive from the president that everyone must wear a face covering when outside of their home and with the Government providing face masks for those doing their final exams, we know that all students and teachers will be required to wear one. The thought that a child may be turned away from class because they do not have a face mask/shield is something that saddens us and therefore we have decided that we want to distribute as many face masks and shields as possible. For only £2 (less than a coffee!), you could buy a face mask with shield for a student or teacher. Please head over to our shop to buy one and support out latest project.
Finally, let’s leave you with this thought – During this pandemic, a lot of posters are being plastered in rural and urban areas to educate millions of people, but think of those who can’t read. A lady recently approached me whilst I was putting up a poster about the guidelines to reducing the spread of the virus and with her not being able to read, she thought the poster was a political one and said “Who is running for the local MP, is it you?” Let’s continue teaching people how to read so that they can have a brighter future and education!