Mercer Island High School (MIHS) junior Chloe Yang said that her community has displayed the power to help copious others in need in Ghana’s Sokpoe village.
During a trip to the remote area last February, she and fellow MIHS junior Zach Said presented students with more than 350 pounds of slightly used school supplies that they collected during a two-week period from the four Island elementary schools near the close of the 2022 school year. They hauled the supplies — including more than 400 bars of soap — on their flight in seven bags and suitcases, and it was well worth all that weight, Yang said.
“I hope it inspires other people to do the same thing,” said Yang, who also led a water, sanitation and hygiene program with Said and Mia Han from Mountain View, California, through the Adanu nonprofit organization. They also built a three-unit washroom for the school and taught students the basics of phonic learning via Bob Books introductory reading sets.
Added Said: “It was such a great experience. I think it was really cool to help kind of cultivate a learning environment there. It kind of changes your worldview in a sense. I didn’t really think about how privileged we are to live in the U.S.” He noted that some villages in Ghana are without running water.
The duo was recently recognized at a Mercer Island School Board meeting. Yang, who is interested in carving out a career in the global health field, initially visited Ghana with her family in 2019 and helped build a latrine and worked on a library in the village of Mafi Seva.
Each sojourn to Ghana has been a growing experience for Yang and she’s been impressed with how the kids are eager to learn.
“I think that each trip I learned so much about the students themselves as well as the school district and the teachers. And I think it’s just really interesting to see multiple perspectives on how (people in) rural villages and Ghana live,” she said.
During her first trip to Ghana, Yang noticed that students lacked school supplies and so she returned with Said armed with an abundance of gifts for the kids so they can get engaged in their studies.
“Just seeing everything that the Mercer Island School District has, being appreciative of that as well and reaching out to other communities to see if we can help in any way,” she said about her mission with Said.
It was Said’s first time traveling to Ghana and he enjoyed helping others and learning about their culture.