_Volta Home Origins:
In the Ghanaian context, relationships individuals within a community are deep and all-encompassing. Collective responsibility, reciprocal obligations and mutual aid are values that guide and rule in the Ghanaian culture. A Ghanaian person, from the moment is born, becomes a social being who will never live in solitude (Utley, 2016). This sense of community explains the origins of Volta Home.
Volta Home is a residential care centre and school located in Ve Deme in the Afadjato South constituency of the Volta Region, Ghana. It was founded in 1986 by Isah Dan Annabi and his wife Mrs. Annabi. More than 30 years ago, when working as missionaries in the region, the founders observed many of the children living in the area suffered from neglect, abandonment and abuse. For these reasons, they were driven to create this centre which they continue to run, now supported by their sons; Emmanuel, Isaac and Charles Annabi.
Nowadays, Volta Home provides a roof to 56 children, in ages ranging from 0 to 17 years old. Children are brought here for different reasons. Some of them are orphans without any relative who can take care of them. Others may have parents who, due to financial or health circumstances, cannot provide the support they need. Over the years this centre has become a home and permanent residence not only for the children in need of care but also for its founders and for some of the employees who were themselves, once one of those children. As such, this institution is more than just a residential care centre and school, but a community and a big family.
_Volta Home as School:
In Ghana education is divided between the public and private sectors. The private sector is a fundamental part of the educational system since it helps the state to make education accessible to all (Nsiah-Peprah, 2004). The private sector in education is so influential that attendees at these institutions outnumber those in state institutions at both primary and secondary levels (Keating, 2013).
Volta Home is also a private primary school called Ve Deme Christian School (https://www.facebook.com/voltahome/). With 15 teachers (12 of them living in the centre), they not only educate the children who live there but also serves as a school for 26 children who go there daily. These are "needy children" (a name given by the centre), who do not pay tuition based on the economic circumstances of their parents or caregivers. It also receives 40 children coming from households who can pay for the tuition. Although they are able to pay, the families of those 40 children are not necessarily wealthy, as the cost of education can be equivalent to up to 30% of their household income (Akyeampong, 2010).
One of the reasons parents or caregivers choose private education is because public schools have not managed to keep up with the demands and are running out of available places. In addition, other findings suggest that private schools have smaller classes (Ghana MOE 2011). Which guarantees a better learning environment for pupils (Clanet, 2010). Also, In the 2011 National Education Assessment results, private schools outperformed public schools in terms of educational achievements (Ghana MOE 2012). Volta Home is consistently amongst those high achieving establishments. According to the Ghana Education Service (GES), in 2019, in the annual analysis of the results of the Basic Education Certificate Examination (BECE), the students of Volta Home have reached the first place in the region. Merit that this centre has been achieving and maintaining since 2016. These factors can justify the tendency of parents and caregivers to enrol their children in this school, in order to guarantee a better education for their children
_Volta Home Livelihood:
The main and regular source of income of this community is from the fees for enrolment they receive as a private school. For the 40 children from households with the highest income, they receive 50 Cedis (£ 7 approx.) per child every four months, three times per year, which makes a total of 6000 Cedis (£ 846 approx.). The fixed amount that this community receives allows them to pay for very basic expenses, such as teachers’ salaries, food and medicines. The rest of the income, which occurs irregularly, only allows them to start or continue with infrastructure projects, such as the expansion of rooms or classrooms, which in many cases do not end due to lack of funds.
Due to its geographical location, Volta Home is close to places of interest for tourists, such as the Tagbo Waterfalls, the Monkey Sanctuary and Lake Volta. For this reason, this community attracts tourists who want to spend some time living in the community. Volta Home offers lodging and food to its visitors, who bring with them the desire to support on the daily tasks of the home and get immerse in the culture, attitudes that are cherished by the community. The income for this service is 250 Cedis (£ 35 approx.) weekly per person. However, these earnings are not permanent or regular. There are periods of 6 months when no visitors arrive.
Agriculture is also part of their livelihood. This community grows harvests corn, yams, cassava, rice, and produce bread. All these which they use mostly for their food. Also, although in less quantity, they have goats, pigs and chickens, which sometimes serve to accompany their diet.
Some NGOs and other independent donors provide some food and clothes, especially during Christmas time, however, this is not regular support. The government does not provide any type of support.
_Volta Home 5 years projection:
The community leaders have devoted a large part of their time thinking, researching and evaluating what would be necessary for their long-term development as a centre. For example, in terms of increasing their skills, one of the initiatives that they have launched is the enrolment to sewing classes of 2 of the girls who live in the home. At the end of their studies, they could become teachers of other children interested in learning this skill. This is a 3-year course and costs 1200 Cedis (£ 170 approx.) per student. This not only empowers those who choose to study this career, but also this can be an important source of income for the home, as clothing is highly valued in the region, and Ghanaians take pride in how they dress (Shepard, 2011).
In terms of infrastructure and mobility, they would like to achieve other goals like being able to build an ICT lab, art centre, science lab and improve learning materials. They would also like to achieve independence of movement, therefore they aim for a vehicle, such as medium-size Van that allows them to transport goods and people.
External intervention to provide the incentive for the community to start moving in a positive sustained direction
The Empowering Volta Home Initiative is a new collaborative effort incepted by Alexis Puerta Landaeta, a student of politics at the University of Manchester, who first visited Volta Home in 2018. During his stay, he formed close relationships with many of the staff and residents and saw the great potential for the centre to be a force for development in the lives of the local children, the local community and the region. However, he also identified how a chronic lack of investment and limited reliable income had hampered the centre's ability to expand and develop sustainably. Given the scarce availability of investment from the Ghanaian government or other organisations in-country, he arrived at the conclusion than international funding could provide huge benefits for Volta home and its surrounding community. Most importantly, he and Volta home both acknowledged that international donation is unlikely to be a reliable or sustainable solution to the community’s developmental stagnation.
Alexis Puerta Landaeta
Working closely with Charles Annabi (Son of the founder and acting as assistant managing director), Alexis began to investigate possible projects into which international funding could be channelled which would increase the financial income of Volta Home for the long term and thus, increase its independence and sustainability. The first of these is Project: A Road to Learning.
A Van as an incentive tool for economic development:
Given Volta Home's reputation as an excellent school; parents and caregivers in the region have shown high interest in enrolling their children. However, due to the lack of public transportation, they prefer to enrol their children in schools close to their homes, even if it's a state school. Therefore, Volta Home has had an idea of acquiring a medium-size Van. This can create a new source of fixed income that will allow them to make their own decisions to the problems they currently face.
Volta Home estimates that offering transportation could increase the number of children as students by approximately 100 new registrations. This would be an increase in their annual fixed income to 15,000 Cedis (£ 2116 approx.). This represents a 150% increase in their annual fixed income. These new students will also be charged an additional 10 Cedis (£ 1.40 approx.) for transportation each term. This would be an extra annual income of 30 Cedis (£ 4.23 approx.) per student per year, approximately 3000 Cedis (£ 420 approx) in total per year.
In terms of its visitors, Volta Home would offer transportation to the main sites of interest in the area. Groups of 6 people, to the Monkey Sanctuary, would be 60 Cedis (£ 8 approx.). To the Tagbo Waterfalls 300 Cedis (£ 42 approx.). To Lake Volta 120 Cedis (£ 16 approx.). In addition, by prior arrangement, they could offer airport pick up in the capital of Ghana, Accra, for 600 Cedis (£ 84 approx.) per trip.
_Moving in a positive sustained direction:
Thanks to the significant increase in income they could obtain with this van, they could increase the number of jobs in the area by hiring more teachers. They can also increase their capacities by equipping the young with new skills, such as the sewing classes they have already implemented, or any other career that is in their interest. Also, projects such as the expansion of rooms and classrooms, which they had put aside due to lack of resources, could be completed and start new projects such as creating an ICT and science laboratory could be initiated.
Given the scarcity of transportation in the area, this Van will bring other benefits in addition to the economic ones. Volta Home's plan is also to use it as a means of transportation for its members in case of emergencies, such as transportation to the hospital, which is located 20 kilometres from the community as well as a means of transporting goods, such as flour for making bread and drinking water for their own consumption.
For the maintenance of this vehicle, it has been suggested to allocate a percentage of the quarterly income of the centre. This savings plan would be intended for emergency cases, which include vehicle damage or repairs.
Volta Home community lacks funds for the purchase of this mid-size Van, which is why external intervention is considered necessary to provide an incentive for this community to move in a positive and sustained direction. This intervention will provide the community with an empowerment tool so that it can achieve the development it desires and needs. In order to achieve these goals, it is necessary to work together. Therefore, external influence is a pivotal part of this process. Donors are needed to support this cause. The approximate price of a medium-sized Van in Ghana is 80,000 Cedis (£ 11,300 approx.). Which ideally should be
collected in a period of 2 months, in order to implement the community plan at the beginning of the academic year September 2020-2021.
If you want to help the children of Volta Home you can make a donation and spread this campaign by sharing the link in your Facebook Bio.