‘Precious Words’ aid ‘Precious Kids’ in Ghana


Inspired by the plight of schoolchildren they met on a Spring Term trip to Africa last year, UIndy faculty and students have launched an ongoing effort to stock and organize libraries for two under-resourced schools in the West African nation of Ghana.

Jodie Ferise (below), assistant professor of business administration, led a return trip during winter break to continue the work. Dubbed the Precious Words Project, the idea was sparked in May 2011, when Ferise arranged a student trip to see the impact of microfinance programs in developing countries. Among other activities, the group worked and taught at Precious Kids Academy, a school launched by a Ghanaian pastor for children who value education but lack resources. In many cases, Ferise, notes, an entire classroom shares a single text. “They were eager to learn and very attentive,” she says, “but they had no books.”

Upon their return, the group began collecting textbooks and storybooks from central Indiana schools, bookstores, and individuals, ultimately amassing more than 8,000 volumes. They partnered with FAME, a local medical mission organization, to ship the books to Ghana, and they continue to raise money for bookshelves and other library supplies. Ferise and some of the students left on Christmas day for a two-week return visit to help establish the library. And they recently learned that the books they collected are more than sufficient for a single school.

“The headmaster of the Precious Kids Academy is arranging space inside another school as well,” Ferise said. “They are so excited.”