Thursday, August 13, 2009

Larabanga! Northern Ghana, July 12 and 15th, 2009

On July 12, I took a very bumpy bus trip to Larabanga, the gateway to Mole National Park. I sat next to Cecelia, a school teacher going to Damongo to visit her family. She was in her thirties and still single so I complimented her on her "singleness" and we had a nice chat while we rode the bucking bronco bus.

Larabanga is a village of about 4000 inhabitants. According to my trusty Bradt Guide,it's also the place of what is considered the oldest extant building in Ghana, the mosque. Some say it dates to the 1400s and others put it more in the range of 1600s, but opinions vary.

In Larabanga, I stayed overnight at the Salia Brothers Guestlodge. As soon as I arrived, Alhassan took me up to the roof where we chatted and watched the sunset. He told me about the projects he and his brothers are doing. He wanted me to visit the school they ran, and I said I would after I returned from the park.

I slept on the roof. A mattress was put up there and I spectated at the twinkling starchestra in the sky with the occasional flute and piccolo solos of shooting stars. I actually got cold and eventually had to bury my head in the sheets. The next morning, I walked the five km gravel road to Mole National Park.

On my walk back from the park, I stopped at the "Bambeniye", Community Basic School of Larabanga. It was founded by the Salia Brothers. I got a little tour, took some pictures which the children seemed to really enjoy. They were working on a kindergarten classroom that would hopefully soon be running.

The Salia brothers saw that there were many children not attending school. These children didn't have the money for school uniforms or school supplies. This motivated the Salia brothers to start a school. Whenever they see someone in the village not attending school, they encourage to come to their school.

The school is largely dependent on funds from outside and volunteer help. While I was there, I met three volunteers from Austria, Germanay, and Holland. I had beans and rice with Hussein Salia and Monika Els from Austria. Hussein explained how the school was run and some of their issues. Monika is raising money in Europe and put together a calendar that is for sale to raise funds.

They are looking for volunteers to help with teaching and working with the children. The volunteers stay at the guestlodge. They are also looking for anyone who wishes to donate supplies or money. A little more info is at: Here is their addresses below if anyone wishes to contact them and support them:

Hussein and Al-hassan Salia, Project Coordinators
Larabanga Community Development Center
P.O. Box 47
Damango, Northern Ghana
Ghana, West Africa

Alhassan Salia, Co-director, e-mail:
Monika Els (Project Coordinator Austria), e-mail:

I also spoke with another brother who has a vision of putting a internet cafe at the guestlodge. His goal is to obtain three computers and go into business.

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