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I remember the words of a friend of mine who had

lived as a development officer overseas. He decided that the most good he and his colleagues did was in buying goods from local people, not in administering the multimillion dollar projects they financed. I thought back to the projects I had been involved in and remembered that the most expensive project was the one that accomplished the least. The most inspiring were the smaller, lower budget projects, the ones that really connected to the people on the ground. All that time, while I’d been walking back and

forth along career paths that I thought would help reduce poverty in the world, my now partner Curtis, a drummer by profession, had been doing it without any sort of career change. Without a background or career in “International Development,” he made more direct change in a year with fewer funds than I did with the word “development” in my job title (particularly if one considers the amount of money spent to employ me). Curtis travelled three times to a couple of small villages in Ghana between 1999 and 2007 to study traditional music and culture. “I had gotten so much from those two villages,” he explains, “so I wanted to do something that would give back to everybody.”

Curtis had been doing some occasional teaching

at All Hallows Elementary, a school in North River, Newfoundland. He mentioned to the school principal that he was thinking of contributing something to one of the Ghanian villages. The principal offered to support him however he could. “So when I went back to the village in 2007, I sat down with the village Elders and asked what was the most pressing need.” The Elders explained to him that the kindergarten

and primary classes didn’t have a classroom. They had been using a church and some space under a tree. Moreover, the village had to pay for the teacher. If they could build a school block for the classes, the Government of Ghana would absorb it into the school system and cover the cost of running it, including paying the teacher. “With the help of a trusted friend in the village,” recalls Curtis, “we set up a foundation, a committee to channel funds from Canada to support the building of the school block.” After a few initial phone calls and e-mails to family,

friends and the principal of All Hallows, he raised $2,000. More would be needed to build the school, however. Upon returning home, Curtis organized a fundraising event showcasing a number of local

2 years

to enrich peers in a global classroom to enhance healthcare skill and practice to help build thriving communities to sustain and develop natural resources to encourage and support local economies

For almost 50 years, CUSO-VSO has been on the front lines, sharing and supporting thoughtful, high impact human development in over 40 countries around the world. Join our professional volunteers and take your expertise overseas where it will encourage the greatest growth.

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