William F. O'Brien
Against the Grain
OKLAHOMA CITY —
The Pambe Ghana Global Market hosted a reception recently to commemorate its opening. The market, which is located at 6416 North Olie, Suite B, in Oklahoma City, is operated during the holiday season from Tuesday through Saturday from noon until 6 p.m. by the Pambe Ghana Foundation, an Oklahoma City-based nonprofit organization that supports education in the African nation of Ghana.
The market sells artwork made by artists from around the world, and the leaflets distributed at the reception provided information regarding some of the artists whose work was displayed. They included items made in a collective in rural Ghana known as “Gambaga Outcast Home” that provides housing and support for women who have had to leave their homes after being accused of “bewitching” someone.
There was also information provided that detailed the work done by the Foundation in Ghana. In rural northern Ghana there are very few schools and students are not taught in their native language. They are taught in English, a language that they have very little exposure to until they enter school.
There is a very high dropout rate in that area of Ghana as a result. But in 2008 Pambe Ghana opened a school there, the La’Angum Learning Center, that provides education in the local tongue and also teaches English as a foreign language to its students. With each passing year Pambe Ghana has added a new grade to the school, and it has been recognized by the Ghanian government as a “model school.”
Pambe Ghana’s executive director, Alice Azumi Iddi-Gubbels, who resides in Ghana, spoke at the reception. She told of how she obtained a master’s in education from Oklahoma City University and taught for a time at Westminster School in OKlahoma City before she returned to her native Ghana and began to work with young students there. She told of how difficult it was for her when she first entered school as a child because she had not spoken English at home, and that was the only language that students were allowed to use at the school she attended. Most of her classmates dropped out of school, and she said that if her father had not insisted that she stay in school she probably would have dropped out as well.
Iddi-Gubbels thanked those volunteers who are operating the store on behalf of the foundation, and said that the proceeds from the sales made will allow her organization to expand the work it is currently doing in Ghana. She also thanked Chesapeake Energy for donating to the Pambe Ghana Foundation the site where the store is located.
“Never doubt that a small group of committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has,” anthropologist Margaret Mead once observed. And it would seem that the committed group of individuals who support the work of the Pambe Ghana Foundation are changing the world for many of the students in Ghana.
WILLIAM F. O’BRIEN is an Oklahoma City attorney.