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Letter from Stephen Bunker

Just had the wonderful news from VSO about the amount that you've raised to support my placement. Many, many thanks for all that you have done.

(Editor's note:  The CARE committee would like to thank everyone who helped to raise funds for Stephen's sponsorship.  This reached a grand total of 1,225.)

Emailing has been tricky, fluctuations in electricity supply and internet connection compounding problems. Although I've been placed in the Curriculum Research and Development Department at the Ministry of Education, no-one in the Dept. has a computer, let alone internet connection. Furthermore, I don't even have a desk there. So, when I've needed a PC I've used my lap top, and when I've needed internet I've used either the VSO office or the British Council (wonderful institution), whilst in Accra.

In fact, I've not been in Accra much. In common with many volunteers I found that my employer wasn't quite ready for me, so I just got on with it (as far as I could). My job is to develop educational broadcasting in primary schools (a pretty broad remit), with the weakest schools provision being in the far north of the country. Thanks to some supportive colleagues in VSO I've been touring around places such as Wa, Nadawli, Bolgatanga and Tamale, looking at the schools, talking to teachers and Heads, trying to see what would work. The attached picture should give an indication of some of the conditions, which are at their very worst in the rural schools. Invariably, there is no electricity, no storage, no text books, no learning resources - and sometimes no teachers.

So, I've made the initial recommendation that we should walk before we run. In other words, forget pipe dreams of laptops and TVs, just start with radio. Its flexible and just one set can be used for a whole class - often up to 70 children, sometimes even more. Better still, there are wind up radios (a big Thank You to the genius of Trevor Bayliss) that are manufactured in South Africa and designed to withstand African conditions (very hot and very dusty).

That's as far as I've got and, of course, that's the easy bit. From this afternoon comes the hard part: logistics and fund raising.

I personal terms, things are good. I've made a number of very good friends and despite all the challenges, the experience has been positive. Ghana is not tourist Africa: there are no dramatic landscapes, safari-style big beasts, or other great visitor attractions. The people are very welcoming, most are really hospitable and very proud of their country. Ghana has many challenges, some which it can do little about and some which it ought, but at heart has tremendous potential. It is a God fearing democracy - and there aren't too many of those in the world, let alone Africa.

Thanks again for your support. I'll email you again nearer Christmas.

Best wishes to all at St. Margaret's,

Steve.

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Some of the children who Stephen has worked with