Pagus Africa is small organization which is certainly dedicated and well managed without all of the bureaucracy. I was introduced to Pagus about 5-6 years ago at a point in time when I felt I had exhausted all possibilities of finding a home for donating 32 years of teaching materials and supplies and children’s books. It was a fluke- a student of a friend had done some work with Ellen Berenholz, the director of Pagus. From the first time I talked with her, I felt I had finally located a person who appreciated my desire to see these materials used to make a better world for those in need. Ellen worked so closely with me to help get all the boxes holding my life’s work to Africa. Because she lives this commitment to these children every day, she understood and respected my dream. We laughed together, commiserated over problems together and solved them together. It has been an additional blessing with this donation to have found a treasured friend in her and others involved in this organization.
I have so very much enjoyed the fact that I can personally work with Ellen and her volunteers in helping to plan lessons using the donated materials. My opinions have been respected and suggestions have been adapted for the cultural concerns of the schools Pagus works with in Africa. I love the fact that my involvement has been welcomed and yet my privacy or needs in retirement have been respected. If I didn’t need to take in the considerations of other family members, I’d absolutely leave tomorrow to happily support Pagus Africa with their hard work in Ghana for I have noted how carefully the volunteers are taken care of and respected in this host country by Pagus and the trusted Ghanaian people. I am envious of the Kodak moments they have every day in their successes as they struggle to help those in need.
All potential volunteers or donors need to know the very best parts of giving your time or donations to Pagus. Although I have in the past volunteered for and have supported much, much larger organizations and have been committed to these organizations, I find my relationship with Pagus to be just that- a grateful, wonderful, involved relationship. I feel the personal touch of it to be so much more gratifying. I am excited to watch and hopefully play a small part with this wonderful organization as Pagus Africa works to someday have their own school which will provide an even better environment for educating the beautiful, eager minds with whom Pagus is involved now.
I volunteered on an Art Week trip, and then led the trip the following year. I now volunteer stateside on an as-needed basis, orienting other volunteers, etc. With this organization, everything you do is at the ground level, making immediate impact. Ellen, the director, is great at taking the skills that volunteers come with (and their ideas) and putting them to use with the kids in Ghana. This is not a tourist volunteer organization. This is a roll-your-sleeves-up and struggle with the big stuff place. And in the reverse direction, the children at the sponsored schools are asked for feedback, are involved in awesome projects, and have a big affect on Pagus decision making. Children come first at this org. If you long to make direct impact and long to be challenged to understand the needs of people very different from you, and if you have tenacity in your drive to help, this is the place for you.
I have had the incredible good fortune to be involved wtih Pagus as both a volunteer and a donor for more than four years. Twice I have gone with Pagus to participate in programming at the schools and have also sponsored two children over the past four years. Ellen's care, concern and support of the individual students and teachers, as well as the schools is unending. As an organization, Pagus works to empower the schools to provide each student a wonderful educational experience to create the foundation they need to be independent, successful adults. The opportunity exists to be involved in Pagus right from your home by sponsoring children and/or by going to Ghana and being involved first-hand, which I would highly recommend.
I am so proud to be a part of this wonderful non profit. My husband and I have sponsored a child, Ernest, for the past four years, and it has been so exciting to watch him grow and follow his progress. We get regular correspondence from Ernest and Pagus makes it very easy for us to communicate via e-mail.
Also, it has been so gratifying to watch the growth of Pagus and follow all the good work that this organization is accomplishing. As an arts educator myself, I have been particularly impressed with the arts programs that Pagus sponsors. The teachers and volunteers that create the art workshops provide a high quality of art experiences for the students. Schools in the U.S. would benefit from programs like the one Pagus offers.
The newsletters from Pagus are wonderful. I always look forward to reading them. They keep us updated and they help us feel a strong connection to Pagus.
I found Pagus while researching for my year off. I was a student and knew I wanted to volunteer abroad, but had relatively no direction after that. After talking with Ellen Berenholz (the director), I knew Pagus was the perfect fit. Working with Pagus allows you to shape your own experience. Ellen is extremely enthusiastic about any ideas that would benefit the students, schools, or even communities that Pagus is associated with, and she is more then willing to work with you on these projects. Another great thing about Pagus is its commitment to not only help impoverished communities, but more importantly to teach them to help themselves. One of the biggest problems that I witnessed during my travels was the role the western world was taking in aid administration. To often an organization will come into problematic areas and create unbreakable ties. This dependency can often be more problematic then the situation was in the first place. Pagus works in a way that not only directly benefits the community, but also insures that the community will be successful long after it leaves. Pagus Africa is one of the few organizations where you can be sure that you will return from your trip having accomplished something.
As a student just waking up to some of the world's most devastating problems, I always wished there was some way I could help--more than words or fundraisers. I wanted to DO something to make the world a better place. With Pagus, I had that opportunity. I raised funds by holding events and writing letters and was able to travel to Ghana twice and truly "get my hands dirty." It was such a formative experience for me to be able to identify a problem, figure out a solution, and work towards fixing it. Pagus is an organization that will make you feel like YOU count, you matter, and your donations and actions will improve others' lives.
It has been our pleasure to sponsor a child's education through Pagus for several years. Through Pagus, I had an opportunity to volunteer at a school in Kpando and witness firsthand the good impact of Pagus' efforts, among administration, staff and students. Pagus targets projects which are doable and have community support, which is what makes Pagus so effective.
It is unusual to know that every dollar you donate to a charity goes directly to the projects on the ground. This is the case of Pagus Africa. The children and families we work to help get to benefit directly from the programs we run in Ghana and since all our participants are volunteers we get to put every dollar to work.
Spending money is no guarantee for success in this kind of work. We have at this time, after working with two communities over a number of years, a clear and vivid measurement of what has been achieved. It is evident in the healthy, bright, educated children who are coming out of the school with whom we have been working the longest. Children who would not have had any real education and who would have suffered from lack of food and health care, now step out into Ghanian society full of possibility. This is real and sustainable change.
The process is slow and challenging but thanks to the work of this small non profit lives are being transformed. The volunteers who have spent time in Ghana are also changed by the experience. It is a immersion in a rich and complex culture that enriches us as much as the children with whom we work.
Check out this small focused non profit and see for yourself. Call us up and ask us questions. Get involved in making a difference while opening doors in your own mind and your own heart.
My story is that this has happened to me through my contact and work with Pagus Africa. My eyes and my heart have been opened to things I would never have imagined. I have been lucky enough to witness the transformations about which I write. I have seen the difficulties and the frustrations but I have also seen the successes and most of all I have seen the children. I have seen what can be done and how powerful that work is.
I have been following the work of Pagus Africa since I sponsored a child 4 years ago. Not only do I get updates from Pagus but i also get letters from my sponsored child as well as his Report Cards to be able to follow his progress. I can tell that my involvement makes a difference in his life and his future. It is good to know that the organization that I support is so committed to excellence.