In July 2015, two Akenkan teams, armed with eight wonderful new Akenkan books, ventured back to Ghana to lead the hugely popular summer school. Based at the Peduase Methodist School, the girls, aged 14-18, from Surbiton High School, led lessons in a range of subjects including 'The Body' and 'The World'. At the heart of Akenkan is always reading our bespoke books with the children, who love to see their world brought to colourful life through the pages of our unique stories.
The girls, who had been fundraising and writing/illustrating books for nearly two years leading up to the trip, also spent some time seeing the country they have grown to know, appreciate and love. Of note were expreriencing the elephants close-up in the wild at Mole, visiting the incredible Operation Hand-In- Hand in Nkoranza, and reading to children at one of Kathy Knowles' OSU Chidren's libraries in Accra.
Daisy, Tamara, Annie, Anna and Gigi, Year 11 pupils at Surbiton High School, had this to say about the trip:
is an amazing charity that we are so glad to be a part of! It is special because we've been able to build relationship with teachers, other students at Surbiton High School and
well as this, we've had the opportunity to see how all of our work producing books, raising money
and planning lessons changes lives for people less fortunate than us.
we first arrived at Peduase Methodist Basic School we felt overwhelmed by the
Ghanaian welcome we received from Akenkan's co-leader, Nana Osei Tutu, all of the teachers and the wonderful children. The children's reaction to basic resources we had
brought with us such as colouring pencils and a world map was heartwarming. And they loved our books! I don't think we realised quite how much we have until we spent time with people who have so little.
only did we teach the children - they taught us about their culture, including songs
and playground games. We created unbreakable bonds with them that
we will stay with us for the rest of our lives. Although
when we left them we all shed tears, the memories we gained and the friends we
made will always bring a smile to our faces!"
My name is Amy Mackenzie and I am 17 years old. I am due to start my final year at sixth form in September and the pressure is on! In a year's time I'll be embarking on my next journey in life, beginning to mould my future. Before my exams, I was worried about what my next step was going to be. University? Apprenticeship? Gap year? There are so many choices and I feel so young to be making these huge decisions. But this summer, things changed for me as I went on the most incredible trip of my life. I am lucky enough to be well travelled due to my international gymnastics career; I have seen many different cultures and lifestyles. But Ghana was on a whole new level. Travelling with Akenkan has given me a clear insight into what I want to do when I leave sixth form. I have always been interested in charity work. I have volunteered throughout my school life which has allowed me to achieve a Diana Award but nevertheless, I had not thought it would be a realistic career path for me. When in Ghana, I couldn't believe how much of an impact I was making on the people around me! Both Ghanaians and my team mates. Looking back, I feel I matured hugely in that three weeks. I just don't take things for granted as much as I did. The day I got back from this incredible trip I was already mentally planning my return, my goal to write more books and take them to the Akenkan schools, the Kathy Knowles library in Accra and Operation Hand-in-Hand, a residential community for disabled children. I didn't realise how much I wanted to help others - producing and giving books that enable the children to develop their English, helping them discover that books are fun has been incredible! As well as the books, I could give them some topic related teaching, pictures, stickers... perhaps most importantly, we raised money for water tanks, sanitary products for the girls and even classroom whiteboards. We also gave them plenty of hugs (of course) - it was such a buzz, I had this butterfly feeling in my stomach that I wanted to feel over and over again. One of the main things that will never leave me is when on our final day of the trip we donated 400 Ghana Cedis to the Kathy Knowles Library in Osu. The rest of the team had nominated me to hand over the money to the library manager, Joanna. I had to make a speech - which I was dreading as usually I hate public speaking - but this time it was different. It all came naturally, I knew exactly what to say. The only thing I had to worry about was not crying. The reactions of the people working there were truly incredible. Joanna was screaming, jumping up and down, giving me the biggest hugs; workers were running up, shaking my hand...They were so thankful. I had the butterflies. That's when I knew this is what I wanted to be doing: helping others towards a better future, making them smile, making a difference and getting those butterflies. So THANK-YOU AKENKAN!!!!!
Akenkan's Inaugural Summer School in Ghana, 2012
In July 2012, Akenkan set up their inaugural Akenkan summer school for 200 children in the rural Akuapem Hills of Ghana. Akenkan took a team of 14 pupils from Surbiton High School who led the summer school and took the Akenkan series of books which they had been working on for two years. The Surbiton also visited different parts of the country to see first hand the cultures, places and traditions that they have been learning about and researching all year.
The trip was a huge success. Meghan Foulsham, Akenkan team member and Year 11 pupil from Surbiton High School said: "none of us even contemplated how hard it would be to leave the children as we had learnt so much from them...we had no idea how much those children would have affected our lives when we entered the week before...It’s safe to say that Ghana was the most amazing, unforgettable experience that we will ever go on, and it has truly made a difference to how we
view England in comparison to Ghana. It has made us all so much more grateful for what we have here and I don’t think any of us will ever be ungrateful for what we have, after seeing how little the children have, yet how happy they all are."