Saturday, April 11, 2009

Saturday Missions: Tumani Ambassadors from Maryland

A group of Maryland high schoolers have been traveling overseas to help educate. Greencastle Antrim High School has a group called Tumani Ambassodors who travel to Ghana to teach children.

From the Public Opinion, writer Rob Luff describes the teenagers travels.

Seniors TJ Bard and Danel Berman left home last summer and saw how the money raised from their student group, the Tumani Ambassadors, is being put to use in rural China and western Africa.

The group, endorsed by Oprah Winfrey's O Ambassadors program, works with the international charity Free the Children to build schools and improve education in Third World nations.

O Ambassadors accepted the school's application last year, designating western Africa as its area of focus. Any money the group raises is split between the local community and western African countries, particularly Sierra Leone and Ghana.

Greencastle's student ambassadors chose the name Tumani, the Swahili word for hope, to reflect their goal. They raised more than $5,000 last school year through a handful of fundraisers both in and outside of school.

Tumani gave about one-fourth of that money to local residents and a national charity, while the remaining amount went to help develop education in western Africa.

Berman saw the money's work last summer, when she taught for several weeks at Heritage Academy Esiam in Ghana. Her trip was organized through a similar organization, but she said she was able to see what happens to American dollars.

While there, her group presented the school with a new bus, which turned the students' 10-mile walking commute into a daily ride to school.

In addition to raising money to build schools and fund educational programs, O Ambassadors visit the Third World to teach eager students.

Berman took on a formal teaching role, planning and teaching daily lessons for a full school day, while dealing with the cultural differences.

"I never got used to the constant marriage proposals," she said, then listed three marriage requests she got from locals.

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