The village of Ampeha is at the end of this road, several miles off the main highway that links Ghana’s capital, Accra, and its second largest city, Kumasi. The largest town nearby is Nkawkaw.
At first look, the overwhelming poverty appears to be insurmountable –dilapidated mud and wattle buildings and a crumbling open-sided school. All topped with rusting iron roofs. The villagers survive with inadequate clean water, electricity, or sanitation.
However, in complete contrast to their seemingly desperate situation, Ampeha is a community of proud, hard working people who have a kick in their step and a twinkle in their eye. At first shy and reserved, they are easy to warm-up and eagerly display their fun-loving personalities.
Children of Ampeha
The economy of Ampeha’s 200 villagers is based on small production of traditional Ghanaian foodstuffs: cassava root, maize, plantain, kola nuts and other produce, for market and home use. There also are small timber, cocoa, and local gin (Akpeteshie) operations.
“Small-scale farmers in Ghana’s poor rural areas have limited access to the assets that would facilitate a shift from low-productivity subsistence farming to modern, commercial agriculture.” International Fund for Agricultural Development (The IFAD is a United Nations agency)
“Limited access” also describes the villagers’ lack of access to useful levels of education, resulting in a literacy rate of 15%. Since 2010, no village student has received an adequate score on the Basic Education Certificate Examination, which is necessary for entry to secondary school.
The lack of an adequate all-weather primary school building, sufficient supplies, resources, or equipment has been part of the problem. However, the greatest problem is the absence of qualified teachers assigned to Ampeha Primary who will travel to the village on a regular basis.
Though most villagers have cell phones, they live with few amenities, sharing the temperamental community water pump, toilets, and the random electrical power. When the power is off, they send their phones to the large town of Nkawkaw – forty minutes away – for charging, often waiting days for a phone to be returned.
Since no one in the village owns a car, villagers walk or call a taxi to come 40 minutes from Nkawkaw. The situation is the same for anticipated journeys as well as for medical consultations or urgent hospital emergencies as there is no hospital or clinic with trained medical personnel in the area. From Nkawkaw, villagers take local transports – trotros (small make-shift buses) or national bus lines – to reach other big towns and the large cities.
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