Sunday, March 1, 2015
YOLO COUNTY NEWS
99 CENTS

‘Taste of Ghana': Making ‘huge’ change in a small village

Otwetiri ProjectW

Tometi "Tim" Gbedema of Davis, center, is surrounded by students at a village school in Otwetiri, Ghana, that he has been supporting since he founded The Otwetiri Project in 2007. The Davis-based nonprofit aims to improve the educational environment for children in underdeveloped and developing nations, including the rural areas of Otwetiri in Ghana and Tsiviépé in Togo. Courtesy photo

By
From page A6 | April 20, 2014 |

In four years’ time, the children in the Ghanaian village of Otwetiri have gone from attending class under a thatched roof to learning in a new school building with a virtual window onto the world.

The changes were made possible by a Davis-based nonprofit led by one of the village’s favorite sons, Tometi Gbedema, and his Otwetiri Project. It will host “A Taste of Ghana” from 7 to 10 p.m. Saturday, April 26, at the Davis Senior Center, 646 A St.

Proceeds from the fourth annual celebration of Ghanaian food, music and culture will go toward buying 10 laptop computers for the school and expanding an annual soccer tournament.

Founded in 2007, the nonprofit Otwetiri Project has raised more than $60,000, much of which went to a concrete school building that replaced one made of mud. Gbedema said last week that the school has made a “very, very huge difference” in Otwetiri, where he was born.

“The students used to have to study under a tree. They had to run away if it started raining. Now they have a place to stay,” he said. “The building has changed the atmosphere in the village.”

Otwetiri numbers about 700 people, mostly families that farm corn and cassava. The school attracts more than 600 students from surrounding villages.

Donated money also has gone toward supporting the soccer tournament, in which boys can play if they keep their grades up — not a small incentive in the soccer-crazed country.

The tournament has grown from four to 13 participating area schools. Gbedema wants to create a second for teams of girls, who in Ghana more often play netball, similar to basketball.

Other funds have gone toward a latrine project, school supplies, soccer gear and laptops that Gbedema delivered in January.

One of those computers went to the school’s headmaster and teachers; the other went to students who had been taught what a computer was but didn’t have one to use.

Now, Gbedema hopes to put one in every classroom. He has encouraged letter-writing between Davis and Otwetiri students, but the computers would enable them to communicate directly.

“They’ll know what is happening in America and around the world,” he said of the Ghanaian students, he said. For the Davis kids, “Not only will it help them to have a friend, they’ll know about the culture, the geography and the politics (of Ghana).”

Gbedema earned his doctorate in geography from UC Davis in 2011. He is a part-time community and regional development lecturer at the campus, assistant Davis High School girls junior varsity soccer coach and local youth soccer coach.

In 2000, he arrived in Davis with his wife, Marie, who works as a hairdresser in Sacramento. After getting into coaching, he began collecting old soccer balls and jerseys to send to Ghana.

When he received a letter back from the school’s headmaster saying that the school had lost its roof in a storm, Gbedema turned to his new community for help.

The Taste of Ghana fundraising events draw about 150 people annually, Gbedema said, thanks to the efforts of his longtime coaching partner Bob Smith’s wife, Toni, and a devoted group of women whose daughters the men have coached: Jan Poole, Martha Gegan, Dorie Mellon, Belinda Kesser and Leslie Buhlman.

Their generosity has extended beyond helping to fund the school, finished in late 2010 and early 2011, to the personal. When an elder in the community died in a car accident, they sent money to help the man’s family.

Three of Gbedema’s former UCD students have visited the village as part of the UC Davis Global Medical Brigade, which annually heads to Ghana and other countries to work on health projects. Members will help out at this year’s dinner.

“When you see how enthusiastic and passionate all these (volunteers) are to change the lives of people — I don’t know how I can ever thank them for the difference they are making,” Gbedema said.

He hopes to one day arrange home stays for Davis residents who want to visit the village — and see soccer teams travel back and forth to play one another.

“Everyone in the village knows about Davis,” he said. “Even the school building says, ‘Donated by the Otwetiri Project in Davis, California.’ ”

This year’s dinner also will feature a raffle and silent auction with art pieces by local and African artists, gift cards to local businesses, catered dinner parties and jerseys donated by two professional soccer players: Jalil Anibaba of the Seattle Sounders, a Davis High grad, and Dominic Oduro of the Columbus Crew.

Tickets to the event are $40 per person. They may be purchased by contacting Toni Smith at [email protected] or 530-574-6052, or Gbedema at [email protected] or 530-848-5285.

Online: http://www.otwetiri.org

— Reach Cory Golden at [email protected] or 530-747-8046. Follow him on Twitter at @cory_golden

Comments

comments

Cory Golden

Cory Golden

The Enterprise's higher-education and congressional reporter. http://about.me/cory_golden
.

News

Sheriff: Mother ‘sole person responsible’ for infant’s death

By Lauren Keene | From Page: A1 | Gallery

 
Rifle Team has a blast with competitive shooting

By Savannah Holmes | From Page: A1 | Gallery

Child abduction case in jury’s hands

By Anne Ternus-Bellamy | From Page: A1

 
Pipeline project will soften water in 2016

By Dave Ryan | From Page: A1

Pig out at Farmers Market’s Pig Day

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A1

 
Weekend storm drops snow, rain, hail in California

By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

Christie to Republicans: No rush to pick 2016 nominee

By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

 
Bob Dunning: Colon prep can be hard to swallow

By Bob Dunning | From Page: A2

Scouts help fill STEAC’s pantry

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A2

 
Parole denied in 1987 killing spree

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

Explore Asia at Arboretum storytime

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

 
MU Games closing in late March

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A3

Still no parole in toddler case

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

 
City offers wetlands tour

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A3 | Gallery

UCD student with meningococcal disease is recovering

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A4

 
Young patients bond with special stuffies

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A4 | Gallery

Diversity theater group continues creativity workshops

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A4

 
Radio talk show moves to Mondays

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

Assault awareness campaign kicks off

By Anne Ternus-Bellamy | From Page: A4

 
UCD student panel to cover anti-Semitism, Islamophobia

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A6

Yolo Food Bank hosts thank-you breakfast on Pig Day

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A9

 
.

Forum

Mars or ISIS? Similar outcome

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: B4

 
City may get charged up over energy choices

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: B4

Milt Priggee cartoon

By Debbie Davis | From Page: B4

 
Rowing: PE as well as life skills

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: B4

Police complaint procedures drafted

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: B4

 
Clarifying energy update letter

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: B4

Weekly claw pickup necessary

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: B4

 
Design innovation centers for the 21st century

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: B5

 
Speak out

By Enterprise staff | From Page: B5

 
A new perspective on life

By Creators Syndicate | From Page: A7

Distant water crisis has lessons for Davis

By Marion Franck | From Page: A7

 
Call for study to settle if anesthesia poses risk to babies

By The Associated Press | From Page: A7

.

Sports

Devils get a soccer win despite finishing woes

By Evan Ream | From Page: B1 | Gallery

 
Winning close games is the key for DHS softballers

By Spencer Ault | From Page: B1 | Gallery

 
Aggie men get a bounce-back win at Cal Poly

By Enterprise staff | From Page: B1

The mystery continues: lowly Gauchos upset UCD women

By Bruce Gallaudet | From Page: B1 | Gallery

 
Sports briefs: Razo throws well as Aggies get a baseball win

By Enterprise staff | From Page: B2 | Gallery

Defending champion Blue Devils have diamond holes to fill

By Thomas Oide | From Page: B3 | Gallery

 
Republic FC falls to storied New York Cosmos

By Evan Ream | From Page: B10

.

Features

.

Arts

.

Business

Yolo Federal Credit Union honored for supporting business education

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A10

 
Online store will celebrate, mock People’s Republic of Davis

By Wendy Weitzel | From Page: A10 | Gallery

.

Obituaries

.

Comics

Comics: Sunday, March 1, 2015

By Creator | From Page: B8