This past weekend, the Year of Return team joined Maurice Cheetham and his group Africa Greek Week at BASICS International in Chorkor for some community service activities with the youth. BASICS is a non-profit organisation in the USA and an NGO in Ghana. They are a social interventions program that provides sponsorships for education, provides a place where young people can be themselves, learn and have an opportunity to build relationships with other youth.
Walking the grounds, you’ll see children of all ages playing games, dancing, singing and enjoying themselves. As one of the organisers for Africa Greek Week, Cheetham and he said it was extremely important to have a community service component as part of the week of events. Africa Greek Week brought African Americans and others from the diaspora who are members of the Greek Letter organisations known as Fraternities and Sororities to Ghana to experience the culture, history and give back to the community. “We are hosting Africa Greek Week, we are not Greek, but we are Greek lettered [organisations] and our goal is to inspire and uplift others,” Cheetham told everyone there.
Partnering with Year of Return, our team of youth volunteers from Teshie Technical School, worked with the Africa Greek Week team to help make improvements to the facility. “Part of our project is cataloguing the library, even while we’re here talking there is action going on for the community service project. We want to make an impact to show that this is what we do,” Cheetham said, He praised the youth volunteers painting the bookshelves that would soon be used to organise the books they were cataloguing for the library.
Nii Ayitey Buxton, Program Manager at BASICS International explained more about what they do to serve the community. “We are a social intervention and enterprise program, and what we do basically is to provide opportunities to youth who have no options to go to school and we provide them with sponsorship to go to school, education and some form of income with our enterprise program.” He continued, “We do other things to ensure the kids stay out of the streets and in school and we provide social service to the community that we serve. Chokor is a fishing community and it’s one of the poorest communities in the Greater Accra region and that’s the reason why we are here in Chorkor serving the community.”
Patricia Wilkins, Founder and Executive Director of BASICS International also shared a few words with everyone. “What we are doing is just giving young people an opportunity to grow, to prosper to be self-sustainable, be self-sufficient and we do that through education. This is a product of what we do. The children that are younger here are in school they are learning, the young people who are running the social enterprise program are former students of this program. They started in kindergarten and they’ve gone on to S.S. [Secondary School], to University and now they are able to create things to make money. So we say welcome and we invite you [to come] back on another day.”
The children there are all very happy to be in such a positive environment. On one side young girls were dancing and playing classic games that involved singing, stomping their feet and clapping their hands as they sang familiar songs. While on the other side, some students were deeply engaged in chess matches.
Diallo Sumbry, Founder of The Adinkra Group and a Member of the Year of Return Steering Committee had a few words to share. “On behalf of the year of return committee, we want to say a big thank you to the Omega Psi Phi Chapter here in Ghana, West Africa and all of the other black Greek sorority and fraternity organization as well as all of the people who have come here to work with you today”.
Wilkins said that BASICS International will be celebrating 20 years of serving the community on 5th December of this year. She was excited to share this milestone with everyone and hopes more people will continue contributing to their cause in the months ahead.
Written by Ivy Prosper
For information on how you could volunteer with Basics International, visit the website at www.basicsinternational.org.