A Tour to Strengthen NHE in our West Africa Schools

By Didi A’nanda Gun’amaya’

This year I visited our schools in Togo and Burkina Faso, and in Ghana,in Ejura, Mafi Zongo, Kasoa, Accra and Ho, with the purpose of sharing NHE activities and training the teachers in NHE. In this article I will share some highlights of this trip.

Togo School in Lome

It is natural in West Africa, where basic necessities are missing, that we spend much time and energy struggling to secure a project’s land, fund raising to get and improve basic facilities, getting good educators and arranging for their salaries, etc. Yet we are doing our best to make these efforts worthwhile by imparting Neohumanist principles to the children, teachers and parents. In our Togo school in Lome, for example, we had a Cultural Program from 20th to 24th February where students performed drama, local songs and dance and expressed themselves in a very creative and subtle way.

In this school students water the plants daily, but they don’t always do it by themselves and they need to understand deeply, to feel at heart the importance of taking care of Mother Nature. They do not have much knowledge of Neohumanism, so Dada Padmeshananda and myself went to each class and taught the basics of Neohumanism to the children and educators. Sensing the receptive mind of the students and staff we started to give regular visits to the school.

Togo – Didi visiting classes with Dada to explain Neohumanism to the kids
Students water the plants daily
Students Performing Local Dance

We gave three lectures on integral education to the fourteen teachers so that they could start to incorporate NHE principles in their day-to-day teaching. The way teachers were disciplined, taking notes and questioning, was very touching. They also proved to remember very well what was taught in previous classes. Lokanath, who is one of the local people responsible for the school, said that they do appreciate these trainings because they feel it gives them new educational tools and it contributes to improve the quality of the teaching and certainly expands the mind of the students. This was so inspiring for me that afterwards I made time to tour our different schools in West Africa just to impart Neohumanist Education.

Lectures on NHE have been given to 14 teachers at Togo School, mostly on how to impart psychological education and also to motivate them to implement cultivation of morality and meditation in their daily routine with kids.
Togo School – Children wearing local dresses receive prizes for best performance in dance
Togo School – Children Studying

Burkino Faso Junior High School – Bzanga

I visited our JHS Bzanga (which means “love for all” in the local language) in Bissiri village in Burkina Faso Master Unit. In this very impoverished rural area, there were 150 students from 12 to 24 years old (yes, some had to delay so much their education for lack of finances), who I found to be very receptive to Neohumanistic ideas too. It is so interesting to see that the universal principles touch the heart of everyone, no matter how diverse may be the context in which they live. Also, in this Muslim area, where the tradition puts the women much behind the scene, the girls seemed inspired to have a woman giving classes to them! I was fortunate to witness a happy occasion when the school received a donation of story books and I looked at the emotion of the children when they started going through the books, as it was certainly a new experience for most of them. Dada has now prepared a room with shelves, which is becoming the library and a place where workshops shall take place (drawing, theater, yoga postures, etc.). There, the school has set up a successful system with teams of volunteers (among students) for all the different Neohumanist activities in the school. It started last year with the 45 members of the “Green Team” who got trained to grow plants and take care of new trees (up to 500 fruit trees were recently planted in the courtyard). This is a quite challenging work due to water scarcity and extreme heat of such an arid area, yet, thanks to persistent efforts gradually the big school compound is getting greenish with a variety of trees. Now they also have volunteers for cleanliness and for the library room. Besides this, training the teachers and students on understanding and applying the principles of Neohumanism has officially started!

School grounds with Dada and new trees
Students with new books
girls sharing food
New School Building

Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso

In Ouagadougou, capital of Burkina Faso, one and one half hectares of land, in a much neglected community, was recently donated for building a new school. We had a class on the Principles of an Integral Education to those local people who have the responsibility to start up this new educational project.

Ghana – Five Schools

In Ghana we have five NHE schools: Namaskar Primary School in Ejura at Kumasi, Ananda Marga NeoHumanist Academy in Ho, AM International School in the Village of Mafi Zongo in Volta Region, Path of Joy in Kasoa in Central Region and AM Early Childhood School and Lotus Children’s Center in Greater Accra.

Namaskar Primary School, Ejura, Kumasi

When visiting our Namaskar Primary School in Ejura, I taught Neohumanism through story. The staff enjoyed this very much. Even the cook was accompanying me from class to class to hear again the same story through the window, and the children were inspired to try meditation which the story proposed.

Ejura – Didi teaching with the Love is Everywhere
Story and Children Meditating

AM International School in the village of Mafia Zongo

Next I gave teacher training at our AM International School in the village of Mafi Zongo where we have an AMURT water project. The community is ready to donate land for a school but as there are no funds for building the facility. At the moment we are temporarily using a room from a local family. Although the school lacks resources, we have got good staff, retired teachers who are enthusiastic to know more about Integral Education. I also spent time with the kids, using stories to teach them to hear their inner voice through meditation, and to feel that love is everywhere, in animals, plants, rocks and also in their hearts! It was nice to see how these village children experience their first time managing crayons and painting. Our school is free of charges because the community is very poor, but it is unable to accommodate many children or provide feeding to the students.

“On the dust of the earth, countless flowers bloom into tender buds.” Shrii P. R. Sarkar translated from PS 2085

Ananda Marga Neohumanist Academy in Ho, Ghana

After a long time planning I could finally visit the Ananda Marga Neohumanist Academy in Ho to impart two days of basic training in NHE, and plan to come to share more often. The teachers understood well our basic ideology and psychological ways to impart education. Children enjoyed “Baba Nam Kevalam” and Circle of Love with songs, asanas and story. The future of this school is surely bright. For more details on the Ho School, see article in this issue.

AM Early Childhood School, Lotus Children’s Center, Accra Ghana

Back to Accra at our AM Early Childhood School, Lotus Children’s Center I am glad to see how students are learning well Reading and Maths at an early age, as these subjects are lacking importance in local private and public Primary Schools. Along with a good academic base, children also have regular gardening, planting, watering or just observing the plants. The daily routine includes Moral Stories, Sports, Vegetarian diet, Songs in the local language, Arts and Crafts using recycled paper and Nature Studies based on the Circle of Love curriculum. Meditation and yoga postures are also part of their daily routine. Lotus is not only a school but also a shelter for girls; besides providing them the basic needs, they also have regular classes on morality. We just acquired a Solar Panel, although it needs to be expanded, which is helping to deal with the energy crises in Ghana.

Children celebrating solar panel at Lotus Children Center, Accra
Kids are studying the butterfly in Nature Studies time at AM School Lotus Children Center

AM School Path of Joy, Path of Joy School, Kasoa, Ghana

At our AM School Path of Joy, Kasoa, Ghana we have been receiving children for library activities. They used to have their activities on the floor but now we got proper furniture. Next is to get funds to solve problems related with the water logged land so that small kids can come and Early Childhood education can start. We are grateful to Rudramohan (Tang) and Mohamukta from Taiwan and their circle of friends, who have helped we materialize this building.

Planting moringa at the path of Joy School