Sheila Leonard

“On Monday, June 15 I visited an Adult English Education class in a small suburb of Accra, Ghana. Often on my site visits I am presented to the beneficiaries with immense grandeur and respect. Since classes had already started, he ushered me to a seat and I observed the twenty student English language class. After a few photos and awkward looks from the young children, offering to help and the project leader Philip shot me an incredibly thankful smile. I listened to an intermediate level student on her reading and pronunciation of workbook stores. About four levels of English were being taught in one classroom. As a former ESL teacher, watching people diligently learn the language of the ‘first’ world always brings tears to my eyes. The students were so eager and diligent with their work, but switched off laughing and chiding each other for mixed up words or forgotten tenses. The teachers were friendly but firm, and clearly saw the two hours as devoted solely to education and work. This too was a refreshing outlook on time for those of us accustomed to intense scheduling and efficiency. Paajaf took education and their students’ time very seriously and worked to maximize the benefit for students young and old in the one classroom with multiple teachers, workbooks, and studies happening simultaneously. After class, Paajaf presented me with a beautiful kente clothed, with the words ‘Thank you Sheila Leonard from the Paajaf Foundation’ sewn into it. After a month of long bus rides, people begging for money, harassment on the streets, heat, and sometimes unbearable hotel conditions, I nearly cried from this sweet gift and their pride. We all shook hands, took pictures, and as darkness settled in, Philip and five children from the classes walked me to the ‘trotro’ or bus back to Accra. It was my third to last day in Ghana and for the first time, I really didn’t want to go home.

“The best thing about Paajaf Foundation was their ability to work with their beneficiaries’ needs. The sun sets at 6pm the lack of electricity prevents teaching after six. However, many of the students work until 4 or 5 and can’t get to school until 6. Paajaf recently negotiated another classroom from a local church and began classes that immediate Wednesday from 6-8. I rarely saw results that quickly in West Africa (or at home for that matter!!).

“I was incredibly impressed with this organization and urge you to donate, or comment if you want to hear more. Phillip, thank you for your hospitality!”