Our Impact

Lasallian Projects has over 35 years experience carrying out projects across the world. During this time we forged close relationships with the communities we have worked with, and had a huge impact on the lives of many local people, as shared by the thanks from many leaders of these communities.

Testimonials

“The projects bring together two parties of unequal economic standing. But mutual trust between the project team from Britain and the local community is a major secret of their success. The projects have helped us to sustain and revive our schools.” Head teacher, Ghana.

“It is very important for you and the people who support you in these projects, to know that their support has done wonders in the Olaimutiai area. The people are absolutely happy and proud of the achievement.” Local co-ordinator, Kenya.

“What the project groups bring to an area is not just money or a building, but a caring enthusiasm that instils pride and hope in the local people that stirs that village out of a kind of lethargy created by the poverty of resources they must daily contend with as they try to create a better quality of life for themselves and their children. …. It has been a most enlivening experience to work with so many young and not so young volunteers over these past few years.” Head Teacher, Ethiopia.

Ghana Impact

Ghana is one of our frequently visited destinations and over 25 projects have taken place there. In 1990, Fr. Peter Paul, studying in London, met with Brother Greg who was organising the projects. The following summer the first group set off …. And the journey has continued each year since then. A number of the Kaleo Education Committee, our partners, have been involved with the projects since the start and the welcome in Kaleo has always been genuine and generous. Each year now, the group is given a tour of all the project buildings and it is impressive to see how the educational infrastructure has developed over those years. It is really a lesson in how great things can be achieved by doing a little bit at a time—and keeping going!

What follows here are some extracts from the reports and impressions of volunteers in Kaleo over the years to give a flavour of the Ghana experience.

We set off to build a classroom block. This has now been completed and is in use. It is an important facility since it made the whole educational system in the area viable. Until this year there were no facilities for a Senior Secondary School, making it very difficult for students to progress further. We also went to learn. Not simply learning to build but learning about a different culture, learning about ourselves collectively and individually and, crucially, re-appraising all our dearly held notions once we returned home. – Gregory

Unfortunately, there were two funerals in Kaleo whilst we were there and we were expected to go and pay our respects. The reason being that if anyone dies in a village, everyone is involved and because we were considered as part of their community, we too were involved. We were made so welcome and felt so much a part of their community that it did not surprise me when my eyes began filling up at the funeral of someone I had never met before. – Sarah

 

Newly arrived in Kaleo, Steven set off to explore the village. He came across a woman shelling beans outside her hut, so he sat down, picked up a handful and helped her and chatted. “My action had been like a pebble thrown into a pond, the effects of which had rippled through the local community making an unseen but profound impact and demonstrating our wish to build a relationship.

I must admit, however, that at the time I had no idea my action could make such a statement.” –Steven

 

I used to think that a road was a road, but …. we started our 18 hour journey at 4 a.m. and it was not long before most of us were asleep – only to be abruptly woken when the road ran out. In the rainy season roads have a tendency to dissolve. Huge pot-holes and trenches appear from nowhere and are difficult to avoid. It is amazing that the vehicles still hold together. The local transport came into the category of ‘bone-shaker’ or ‘back-breaker’ as you prefer. It was just a truck with wooden benches in the back and pull-down covers to stop the rain. – Michael

The outcome of our meetings with the education committee was a sort of development plan up until 2005. The committee had decided to aim for 600 pupils in the Senior Secondary School (presently 450*) with a pupil/teacher ratio of 30 or 35 to 1 (currently 45). The Junior Secondary would be increased from 265 to 400 and the Primary School held at 600. The building of more teachers’ accommodation was needed to attract teachers to the area. a multi-purpose assembly hall and science laboratory blocks were also to be incorporated in the future plans. – Nick

* by 2015 there were 1,200.

Six years ago when the first Lasallian group arrived in Kaleo, the children and some of the older people were afraid of white people. Now, after 6 years, the children no longer fear the white people. They are more happy to play and be together. – Headmaster of Kaleo Secondary School.

In anticipation of electricity reaching Kaleo in 1997, the building was fitted with electrical sockets and lights.

More often than not time is money in our society, so everyone runs around frantically, rush, rush, hurry, hurry. But this is not the case in Kaleo. Maybe that is because there is not enough money around to bother getting in a flap about; maybe it’s too hot to rush; maybe it’s just the way Ghanaians are. I personally think that Ghana Maybe Time exists because of the fundamental respect the community of Kaleo have for each other. – Liz

Now I am back in England, what has changed? I was quite content with my life, my work, my friends, my home but that short experience and that small village has questioned all that went before. Why do I live as I do? What is the point of my work? What do I value in life? Do I have the courage to change? So many questions where peace once reigned, but I hope those nagging voices will never be silenced. – Tom

 

One day I managed to severely bruise my finger. It was swollen and there was no ice in Kaleo to put on it. Michael*, our on-the-spot fixer, decided to call in the village witch doctor. All the group gathered round to watch me suffer the pain of the manipulation and the pushing of the afflicted finger back into place – with no anaesthetic. Whilst I was screaming the rest of the group looked on in fascination and amusement, asking me to cry again to make the photo look authentic! It was all a very eerie experience, especially when he started to rub some sap from a special plant on to my finger. But it was all brilliantly effective as my finger was back to normal the next morning. – Nicola .

*Later known as Chief Michael

So much has happened in such a short time,

Too much to write of and too hard to rhyme.

Five weeks in Ghana, how would we survive

Without home comforts to keep us alive? …

Four weeks along and we’ve managed so far;

Our thanks go to Club, to Guinness and Star.

Thanks to our leaders, Mayte and Mick,

The time we have spent has gone by so quick.

Chris (extracts)

In Kaleo village, Peter, the watchman, sits under the tree on his home-made wooden ‘sun-lounger’. As he watches, so he works. With his sharp knife he cuts and splices canes of bamboo and with his strong and dexterous fingers weaves the strands and, with some final pressings here and there, he completes his creation – a basket. Observing his creativity and his product, members of the team tentatively ask if he could make one for them. He makes one. He makes more. He makes them to order in any size you ask: he can do thimble-size, he can do laundry basket-size!

At the end of the five weeks f the project he has made seemingly hundreds and has been paid for each one from 3000 to 5000 Cedis (25p to 40p depending on size). As we say our farewells, I thank him for all he has done and suggest to him, tongue in cheek and with good humour, that having made his million he could now retire! He thanked me for everything we as a team had done, and replied simply and unassumingly, “I can now buy bread for my family.” What it means to be humbled! What it means to be a millionaire! Nick

 

The conditions in the school we visited were far from perfect; the first class had 70-80 pupils. The kids were eagerly waiting for us to enter – there was not a squeak out of them as we walked in. Vincent, the head teacher, proudly showed us some of what he teaches them. He is clearly proud of his school and has a real rapport with his students. We enjoyed teaching the whole school songs and dances, and in return they taught us some new ones. What was abundantly clear was that they loved to learn and accomplish.

In Kaleo you found your true home. We can still hear the children calling after you ‘John! John!’ as you walked the paths of Kaleo wearing your big smile as usual. You gave up smoking to save money to sponsor two needy children: that is not to be. You told us after your degree you would come back to work in Kaleo: but this is not to be. Your good intentions were swept away. Our beloved John, you devoted the last five weeks of your life to serve the people of Kaleo. We can never pay you back, but we are consoled that you are in Heaven where we will one day be re-united in never-ending happiness. Kaleo , Paramount Chief.

Arriving on the building site, I noticed that there was no cement mixer, not what I was used to as a Civil Engineering student. Soil was compacted with a paint tin filled with concrete rather than with machinery. When water was needed to mix the concrete, the headmaster of the primary school sent all the children home to get a bucket, then carry water from the nearest pond up to the site. Even the smallest of the children wanted to take part, walking up the hill with huge pans of water on their heads, putting us to shame. – Rosie

I was amazed, as I travelled around, at how many people knew about the Lasallian projects in Kaleo. Locally, young people are moving into careers such as nursing or even going on to study at university, unthought of a generation ago. This is because of the education provided by the supported schools. We met Lukeman, a 26 year old, who has just finished his secondary school education. His schooling had been interrupted by family problems but he returned in his early 20s to learn alongside younger students in order to improve his prospects. – Sam

The Ghana project is very well known to all Lasallians as the longest running project to date. Our year was the 27th consecutive year of the project in Kaleo, and it shows. One day Vincent took the group on a trip to go and visit all of the building sites from the last 26 years. This trip felt like a journey through time. The impact Lasallian has had on this small village is incredible. Sufficiently recent buildings had the names of the groups carved into the side and the number of names that were known to me blew my mind.

It is easy to go on project and build and come back feeling you’ve made a difference. Even talking to people that have been on different projects from you and agreeing on similarities and differences and feeling a shared understanding of what project is like is easy. What I have only just realised is that it has really taken hundreds of volunteers, just like me, and thousands of hours of work for this kind of development to take place, and it was by seeing names of my friends and family on buildings that have been there for years that have allowed me to come to this realisation. This is not an overnight venture; this is the product of people who share a fundamental set of values and care enough about them to do something about it. This is the legacy of Lasallian, and it is an honour to have been a part of it.

 

What is also inspiring, and humbling is the dedication and enthusiasm displayed by the education committee and coordinators. Even after 26 years they had so much time and energy for our group that we felt quite at home in Ghana straight away. They were so keen to share stories from past years’ groups and friends we have in common. It happens every year but it really baffles me how big an impact someone can make on your life in just five weeks. – Michael

The overnight bus from Accra to Wa bounds over the potholes, pummels and massages the passengers, scares cars (and probably elephants) off the road, and at dawn deposits its shaken and stirred passengers in the dusty and confusing bus depot from whence they disperse to various homes—or to Gregory House. For nearly 30 years that hostel has lodged project groups in relative comfort. And so it was this year. The group set out each morning to the building site where they were working on the foundations of a building to house pastoral chaplains for the schools in the area. Lots of those schools have been wholly or partially constructed by our groups and are now packed with children who give an excited welcome when groups vi­sit.

But it wasn’t all shovelling and brick-carrying and pit-digging. They enjoyed the view from Ombo, the only hill for as far as you can see, they visited a mango plantation (sadly out of season) stalked the elephants in Mole Park, clambered along the high walkways of the tropical forest and watched the waves crash on the southern shores.

Sad to say, but we lack the resources to return to Kaleo in 2020 and must hope that our long history of cooperation can be continued again in future years. ­

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