Monday, November 24, 2008

Thank You AFH

First and foremost, thank you to all of the architects from the Chicago Chapter of Architecture for Humanity who came out and contributed to the plans for the Young Apostles International School (YAIS) community center!! The meeting was a great success bringing together 22 Chicago architects who lent their time and talent to The Building Fund and the YAIS. The architects spent five hours discussing and planning, coming away with 4 distinctive designs for the community center. The designs, which will be presented to the school this winter, integrate cross-cultural solutions to creating a space where both the students and community members can come together. From water collection systems to multipurpose spaces each plan took into account the need of YAIS, and will bring fresh ideas to our architects in Ghana. Thank you again, to everyone who came out and we look forward to keeping you updated on the progress of the community center.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Providing Opportunities for Ghana's Women

Across the country, Ghana's robust economy has contributed to considerably improving the well-being of its people, with the proportion of Ghanaians living in poverty falling from 52 per cent in 1991-92 to 29 per cent in 2005-06, according to estimates by the Ghana Statistical Service. But Ghana's north has largely been excluded from that broader trend. One hindrance is geography. The three northern regions are far from the ports, roads, railways, markets, industrial centres and fertile farming areas that help stimulate greater economic and human development in southern Ghana. The incidence of poverty in the Northern Region declined only slightly over the same period, from 63 per cent to 52 per cent. Special programmes are needed to overcome the north's heavy concentrations of poverty, poor climate and limited economic opportunities.

One way to tackle these inequities is to get individuals to band together in order to increase their production and marketing capabilities for their local products. For example, the Africa 2000 Network-Ghana has sponsored a project to encourage women to form an association for the creation of shea butter for soap production in Tamale, the capital of Ghana's Northern Region. For these poor women, even modest increases in their incomes can make a big difference. Previously, each had collected and processed shea nuts as an individual, but earned so little she could barely get by. "We found if we came together we could make more and sell more," explains Safiya Hassan, a recent university graduate who is helping the women.

The association now includes 13 groups of shea producers, all women, in Ghana's Northern Region. Together they are able to produce more than 20 tonnes of shea butter per month. Much of this, in the form of high-quality shea soap and creams, is supplied to a Japanese company. As a group, the women are earning an additional profit of 10 Ghana cedis (US$11) for every 100 kilogrammes, compared to what they made as individual producers. That modest extra income has already changed the lives of many of the women. The shea project is still only a few years old, but that has not stopped its members from seeking to help other shea producers in the Northern Region. They have learned improved production techniques from women elsewhere, and are in turn planning to teach selected "master trainers" from all three of Ghana's northern regions. Making such wider connections "has been one of our greatest achievements," says Ms. Yakubu.
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Saturday, November 1, 2008

Help TBF Win $10,000

As The Building Fund embarks on an exciting project to build a community center at The Young Apostles International School we need your help to make it happen. This month we have a chance to win $10,000 to make this project happen.

Visit Ideablob and vote for The Building Fund's "idea" to Help Build a Community Center in Ghana. We will need over 500 votes to make this happen, so every vote will count!!

About the Community Center: The center will serve 11 thousand people housing a health clinic, library, computer lab, and space for community events. It will be the first and only community center in the area and provide much needed health and education services. $10,000 will ensure the success of this project by paying for the materials needed to construct the library and health center. The funds will go directly to the school so that they can use local resources to build the community center, and further help their community. For more visit: