The Dreamland School Project in Ghana I

By Steve Maggi

“14” screamed one. “15”, screamed another, “Buzz!!” screamed the third, and then the fourth paused and paused. “Umm, 15?” “Out” I screamed, and everyone but the last one to speak cheered loudly. Here I was in front of a 5th grade class of a dozen students or so, teaching math by playing a game called “Buzz” and having the time of my life, in a small rural town called Akumadan in Ghana.

“Was this real?” I often asked myself, when I look back through the pictures my wife and I took of the most life-changing, beautiful six weeks of our lives, and the answer is “yes”. The magical setting I describe above is called Dreamland School, situated in Ghana, a remarkable country in West Africa. Dreamland School is exactly what it sounds like, a school built on a seemingly impossible fantasy which was to not only build a school for orphans and needy children, but to build them a campus where they could learn, sleep and eat, and have green spaces where they can play. This dream was principally conceived of by Pastor James Donkor Dugger and his wife Ama and Mr. Dugger’s close friend Abraham Kwabena Amoako, a remarkable man born with polio who walks with crutches but overcame all obstacles and became an architect.

Mr. Dugger’s work as a pastor put him in close contact with the community, and having grown up Akumadan, he saw the frightening number of small children and babies who grew up with one or no parents. Mr. Dugger, as do many other courageous heroes across the world, simply refused to accept things as they were and decided to do something about it.  As I came to learn quickly, Ghanaians have managed to develop a way of living their lives in a way which transcends barriers and obstacles, diseases or disasters.  U.S. President Barack Obama chose Ghana as his model for progress in Africa when he made it his first African destination as president, and no matter where you go in Ghana, you can’t help but notice that everyone is doing all they can to progress. The first time we went with Mr. Dugger and Abraham to the site where Dreamland School campus was going to be built, we quickly realized what was before us: The most important project we would ever be associated with.

My wife and I spent five weeks in Ghana and we fell in love with its people, its food and culture and its football team, the Black Stars. We visited the places I had read about in college, and when I stood in one of the dungeons of Elmina Castle, the tears cascading down my face, I made a pledge to do all I could to help this dream become a reality. As the first volunteers at the school we realized that that we needed to spread the word around the world about what was happening in this small town, and so we started planning with Mr. Dugger how we could get more people involved, get more volunteers who could also visit and then also spread the word, and who could help us raise more money to build the Dreamland School campus. When we returned home we became advocates for the school and started to raise money. In the two years that have passed by, the project is halfway to completion (Please see “Dreamland School Ghana” to see how it is progressing).

There has not been a day where the children and the school have not been on our minds and in our hearts. Ghana and the school have become a part of who we are. As I write this, I prepare to finally go back to see the children including Gifty, Elvis, Meshach, Adu, Beatriz Badu, as well as Mr. Dugger and his family, Abraham and my dear friend Akawasi. I will take more pictures when I’m there and document the progress, which will be contained in the follow-up article. After two years of waiting, I can finally go back to my second home, where one man’s dream can magically become a beautiful reality.

Posted by on Jan 15 2013. Filed under Community News. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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