Categorized | Features

Giving a helping hand

Lauren Grimanis ’12 tells the Akaa Project story

Anya Cohen

Features Editor

The summer before her senior year of high school, Lauren Grimanis ’12 took her first trip to Ghana through a volunteer organization called Cosmic Volunteers. In Ghana, Grimanis spent most of her trip in a eastern community called Akaa.

On a day trip to see a tourist attraction in the Akaa community, Grimanis met a Ghanaian girl who opened her eyes to the true needs of the Akaa community.

“One of the first girls that I met was a 16-year-old who had two kids already. The kids didn’t have any shoes and weren’t going to school,” said Grimanis.

Grimanis saw the need for a better education and health care system, so she decided to take matters into her own hands.

“You could tell that the government was putting money into the tourist attractions, but they weren’t giving any community support for education or health care. So we decided to start a school,” said Grimanis.

In 2007, Grimanis built a school in the Akaa community with the help of Joyce Doh-Efa, the Ghanaian woman who served as her host mother during her first trip to Ghana. The creation of the school fostered the creation of the Akaa Project.

The school started as a mud structure with a bamboo roof.  The structure now has a tin roof and cement floors to accommodate for the rainy season.

“There are three classrooms and 80 kids are registered. We are hoping to expand so that children from neighboring communities can also attend the school,” said Grimanis.

It took a year but the Akaa Project is now recognized as 501(c)3 non-profit and the organization is thriving.

“Both my high school and the college have been very involved in the Akaa Project,” said Grimanis. “There is an Akaa Project hall on the bottom floor and part of the first floor of Kenarden. To live on the hall you must have a job helping to run the non-profit.”

Through Grimanis’ work with the Akaa community, she has realized that you don’t need to be an adult to make a difference.

“I want college students to know that they don’t need to wait until they graduate to start to make a difference in the world. You can help your global community with any talent or interest that you have,” said Grimanis.

There are many ways to get involved with the Akaa Project including participating in an upcoming trip to the Akaa community in Ghana this winter. If you are interested in getting involved email Grimanis at LGrimanis12@wooster.edu.

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