Since our last visit to Winneba in May 2011, there has been a lot of activity in our Charlottesville-Winneba Sister City partnership and there are a number of projects in the works to strengthen the ties between our two communities.
In no particular order:
* We are incorporating a new entity, the Charlottesville-Winneba Foundation, as a fundraising vehicle to support the work of the Sister City partnership. This Foundation will have its own Board and will organize fundraising events and solicit donations to raise monies for the Winneba Public Library Project, travel costs for future delegations, etc. The Foundation is currently in the process of submitting a 501(c)3 application to the IRS so that contributions to the Foundation would be tax-deductible. Once the Foundation is operational, a local fundraising professional has tentatively agreed to start working to raise monies for the Foundation on a commission basis.
* Progress on the Winneba Public Library Project has been slow but there has been an exchange of information about library specifications and operations and we expect to see concrete progress on the design phase in 2012, hopefully with the continued involvement/support of the Building Goodness Foundation.
* The Virginia State Reading Association, by way of Prof. Suzanne Houff at Mary Washington University, very much wants to work with us to support the development of literacy initiatives in Winneba in conjunction with the Winneba Public Library Project. They have some reading materials they would like to send along to Winneba if anyone from Charlottesville visits in 2012. The Gyatekuma Servant-Leader Revitalization Project, Inc. (an NGO founded by Nana Ghartey’s uncle) is looking to take the lead role in establishing reading programs in Winneba.
* The UVa Library System and UVa’s Center for International Studies are hosting two librarians from Ghana (including one, Cynthia Kumah, from the University of Education at Winneba) March 26-30 for an international library exchange. Their visit will include a tour of the Jefferson-Madison Regional Library system and we hope that their visit will help build momentum for the Winneba Public Library Project. The librarians will offer a free public presentation (“The Unique Challenges and Opportunities Faced by Ghana’s Libraries in the Global Context”) on Wed., March 28, 2012, at 1:30pm in the Auditorium of the Harrison Institute/Small Special Collections Library with reception to follow.
* Nancy Damon was able to land Peggielene Bartels, author of King Peggy: An American Secretary, Her Royal Destiny, and the Inspiring Story of How She Changed an African Village, for the Virginia Festival of the Book – she will be speaking on Friday, March 23, 2012, at 12:00pm in City Council chambers. Dave Norris will moderate. Bartels’ book is currently getting widespread national media exposure. For more info: www.kingpeggy.com or http://www.vabook.org/site12/program/search.php?search=king+peggy&x=0&y=0
* Ghana’s Ambassador to U.S., the Hon. Daniel Ohene Agyekum, spoke in the Dome Room of the UVa Rotunda on December 6, 2011 on the topic “Ghana as an Emerging Market: How the Ghanaian Diaspora Can Contribute.” Dave Norris introduced the Ambassador and several other members of the Charlottesville-Winneba Sister City Committee attended and presented Ambassador Agyekum with a couple of gifts as souvenirs of his Charlottesville visit. For more info.: http://www.virginia.edu/uvatoday/newsRelease.php?id=16808
* The Semester at Sea program, based at UVa, continues to dock in Ghana several times a year and whenever it does so, several students & faculty from the ship head up the coast and pay a visit to Winneba courtesy of our friends with the Winneba Sister City Commission. Jane Penner of the UVa Library System (who visited Winneba as part of our May 2011 delegation) will be the shipboard librarian on an upcoming voyage and is looking forward to making a return visit to Winneba at that time.
* A large shipment of medical supplies from UVa were distributed to hospitals and clinics throughout the Central Region of Ghana in summer 2011 and were very well-received.
* Upcoming Ghana Association event: 55th Independence Day Celebration, March 10, 7:30-10:30pm, Tonsler Park Rec Center. Free and open to the public – please come! Several individuals and organizations will be honored for promoting positive relations between Charlottesville and Ghana.
* Joe Baami (Chairman of the Winneba Sister City Commission), Nana Ghartey and Dave Norris met with Charlottesville City Schools Superintendent Rosa Atkins and Deputy Superintendent Gertrude Ivory on October 14, 2011 to discuss creating an Artist-in-Residence Program in the City schools, whereby a rotating series of visiting artists from Winneba would teach West African art (music, visual art, dance, design, etc.) in our City schools. The idea is now under exploration by City school staff.
* The University of Virginia, by way of Dr. Marcus Martin, Vice President for Equity and Diversity, has indicated its willingness to appoint Dr. Maurice Apprey of the Office of African-American Affairs as an official UVa representative to the Charlottesville-Winneba Sister City Committee. Dave Norris and Nana Ghartey will arrange a meeting soon with Dr. Apprey (and perhaps Dr. Martin) to discuss the status of the proposed MOU between UVa and the University of Education at Winneba. On a related note, the newly-formed Charlottesville Institute (http://cvilleinstitute.blogspot.com) is willing to assist in promoting involvement of UVa students and faculty in projects of benefit to the Charlottesville-Winneba Sister City partnership.
* As part of Charlottesville’s 250th birthday festivities this year, two representatives from each of our Sister Cities (including Winneba) will be invited to attend our 250th anniversary banquet in November. The Charlottesville Sister City Commission is hoping to raise funds to cover their travel & lodging costs. The Sister City Commission is also looking to launch an electronic pen-pal program in conjunction with the 250th, whereby Charlottesville City schoolchildren can use their new tablet computers to develop friendships with schoolchildren in each of our Sister Cities.
* A UVa student, Kendall Singleton, is applying for a Fulbright Scholarship to conduct an agriculture-related research project in Winneba – she will know if her application was approved in March.
* The Charlottesville-Winneba Sister City Committee will try and raise funds to support travel costs for a delegation from Winneba to attend the African-American Cultural Arts Festival and Taste of Ghana events in July 2012.
* Charlotte Cherry’s film about her experience as a member of the May 2011 Charlottesville delegation to Winneba was featured in Light House Studio’s 10th Annual youth film festival on September 9, 2011 and was aired at a meeting of Charlottesville City Council on September 6, 2011.
* Roger Voisinet has offered to host a backyard benefit concert for the Charlottesville-Winneba Foundation in May 2012, featuring the Stoned Wheat Things and perhaps some other musicians. Stay tuned for more info.
* Nana Ghartey will be a guest on Bruce Penner's WTJU radio show, Radio Tropicale, this Wednesday, Feb. 29, at 12:00pm to discuss Ghana's rich musical legacy.
* Pastor Dale Johnson, who was a member of the May 2009 Charlottesville delegation to Winneba, will be making a return visit to Ghana this July with The Helen Project and is willing to bring books, etc., to Winneba. The Helen Project is hoping to sponsor some training apprenticeships for Ghanaian women caring for orphans in Winneba.