Photo Caption: Proceeds from fundraising effort will provide security for this school in Ghana where computers have been stolen.
An Ohio University student who has spent the semester teaching at a secondary school in the Republic of Ghana is raising funds to install a security system for the school's computer lab and library.
Shannon Feller, a sophomore early childhood education major, has been teaching mathematics at the Bakatsir Methodist Junior Secondary School in Cape Coast, Ghana since mid-August as part of OU's Teach in Ghana study abroad program. Ghana is a country in West Africa.
"The children at this school have so much energy and excitement, and as soon as they realized I really came to help them learn, they became so much more interested in their schooling," Feller said in a press release.
Feller said one of the first things she noticed at the school was that it had far less technology and equipment than many schools in the United States. However, she also realized that many of her students - most being about 14 or 15 years old - would still be expected to compete internationally relatively soon.
According to Feller, a teacher at the school told her that, recently, some of the few working computers in the school were stolen. Feller explained that after she expressed an interest in improving the computer lab and library, the teacher said she should invest in a security system for the building that houses them.
When she went to a local shop to find out the cost of installing security measures for the building's windows and doors, Feller said workers informed her that only galvanized steel could withstand weather and atmospheric conditions caused by the nearby ocean. She said they estimated the project would cost about 4,000 Ghanaian cedis, or just more than $2,000.
Though Feller did not have that much money to give, she decided to create an account at gofundme.com (http://gofundme.com/1cdkzw) so friends, family and others could also donate to the cause. As of Oct. 30, just 15 days after launching the site, Feller had raised a little more than $800.
Feller said she hopes to have raised enough money to install the security system by mid-November.
"The greatest gift that can be given to a school and its students is the knowledge that their education will be protected," Feller said in the press release.
Initially, Feller said she had intended to essentially make over the building that houses the computer lab and library. Specifically, she said that she had the goal of making it a "more useable and welcoming place" by repainting the rooms, building some new bookcases, and potentially providing more books or computers.
Ultimately, though, she said she told the teacher she would try to do whatever he thought would help the school the most.
"I was left with the task of making it so that people in the future that come to teach don't have to worry that what they contribute won't be safe," she said.
In general, Ghana has a low crime rate, and Feller described it as an "extremely peaceful place." However, she said she has learned that theft and robberies are still relatively common.
Additionally, she said that, although 28.5 percent of the population was living below the poverty line in 2007, poverty in Ghana is not very noticeable because "people know how to get by." She described the kids she has met as "happy with whatever they have."
"I will take home the knowledge that people don't need nearly as much as they tend to think to be happy," Feller said
Though she will be leaving Ghana Dec. 7, Feller said she plans to continue to donate to the school even after her departure. She also said she hopes to be able to return someday.
"There's no way I could leave thinking I'd never come back," she said.