The Rhythm is Ghana Getcha…
Posted 11/02/2007 12:00AM

The Porter-Gaud Middle and Upper School students were treated to an experience that they will not soon forget. The Nkabom African Music and Dance Ensemble came to perform during Chapel on Tuesday, and wow was it amazing! This group is touring around to raise awareness of the HIV/AIDS pandemic in their native country of Ghana. Their high energy Rhythms and authentic presentation wowed the audience. Our students had the chance to participate in the concert through dancing, and many of them took that opportunity. Besides the entertainment value, the concert had a greater purpose.

Three organizations, Nkabom Artist and Craftspeople Association of Ghana, Gethsemani Circle of Friends in North Charleston, and the Family Services Research Center at the Medical University of South Carolina have teamed up on Project OKURASE. Okurase, Ghana is in the West Akim District of Eastern Ghana. The goal of Project OKURASE is to develop a model that can be replicated in communities around the world, with the central focus for the design being on green design, sustainable architecture, job and skills training, family and village-based formal education, and a family-based model for caring for children impacted by HIV/AIDS.

Once the needed funds are raised, a sustainable education and training center will be built there to combat the spread of HIV/AIDS and to educate the adults and assist the children who have been orphaned as a result of the disease. Services at the center will include formal education for street children, many of whom are orphaned due to HIV/AIDS and who will live at the center, and other local children in nearby villages. Arts-based skills training will be provided to women, older street children and vulnerable teens by master craftspeople, visual and performing artists from Nkabom and the Craftspeople Association of Accra, Ghana.

Education in information technology and English as a second language will be available for adults to make them more competitive in the global marketplace. Seminars will be conducted to inform the local community about malaria and HIV/AIDS. Children orphaned due to AIDS will have the chance to grow up in a home with a family on the grounds of the center, and students from colleges around the world will be given opportunities to intern, student teach and work at the center, local orphanages, the children’s hospital.

This past Saturday, his Excellency, The President of Ghana John Agyekum Kufuor, indicated his interest in Project OKURASE and has promised his total support to whatever initiatives the three organizations would undertake to bring relief to the people of Ghana. The District Assembly is prepared to give more land if needed. At this point, the land has been bought and surveyed. Project OKURASE has been blessed by the village chief, or Odikro, which happens to be a woman. It is fitting that the chief is a woman, which is very rare, given the purpose of the center.

Opportunities for the students and parents at Porter-Gaud to involve themselves directly with the project may be available in the future. Trips to Ghana from the Charleston area will be planned as soon as more details are known, and our students, parents, faculty and staff may have the chance to help with the construction of the center.

For more information on Project OKURASE, please visit www.projectokurase.org. Financial contributions can be made as well as opportunities to volunteer.