"Oh, Mr Karl...what an honour to have you with us today!" welcomed Grace Awuni him smiling all over her face. Even having a busy work schedule to celebrate its first anniversary of his Sakumono Adult Education Center around the washing bay was nothing he had ever wanted to miss. He looked around the building that was still in an infant stage but clearly to see that hard-voluntary work had gone into the project. Much more needed to be done but as a first step into the right direction, much had been accomplished. "It is so good to have you with us. So, let me show you around," went Miss Grace Awuni ahead of Mr Karl and presented him the new kitchen with two new industrial cooking stoves, a donated backing oven, a pizza oven from a restaurant nearby that was expanding and no longer in need of their old oven that had served them and their guest for many years very well. "This makes us especially proud, Mr Karl...these three mixers that we got as an old lady that recently passed on had left it in her will we should buy these machines from the money she had assigned for our school."
"That is fantastic, Miss Awuni," congratulated Mr Karl the schoolmistress and was incredibly pleased. He reminded her, the young woman that had worked with him day and night on this school project, gave endless time for free and was rewarded for it with her current position. "I am so happy for you." He looked around the kitchen that was already in good shape yet much more needed to be done, more machinery, more places for women and men alike to learn healthy and fresh cooking. They had well noticed that diabetes and fibroid had an increase in the neighbourhood and had set their mind on addressing both issues to better the health of many in their area. While standing in the hallway Mr Karl looked behind him and in front of him seeing all the many doors leading to various classrooms and said: "Do you remember the time when I came up with this idea that I know so well from back home, from Germany?"
"No one wanted to believe you, Mr Karl!" answered Miss Grace Awuni and took a deep breath. "They thought such a great idea can work in Germany or other places in Europe but never ever here in Ghana!"
"Yes, I remember the many heated debates among the people here. They said that there is no time, there is no interest, not many people would come, people asked being compensated for the work they were supposed to do here and so on and so on."
"Honestly speaking, Mr Karl... I was thinking we would never make it. I mean the idea is the best I have ever known in my life...but here with Ghanaians...people that work for big money only to give something for free back to the community and help other to progress?" was Miss Grace Awuni more than astonished thinking truly a big dream had come true.
"The idea that people with know-how in whatever field, be it politics, history, reading, writing, playing a musical instrument, philosophy, cooking, physics, chemistry, painting and drawing, gardening, farming and so on would come to one place, offer their time and wisdom and knowhow to others for a very small fee... ."
"And in certain cases, even for free when the money really is not available but the talent clearly to see," added Miss Grace Awuni and smiled all over the face.
"For sure, for people in need when we can clearly establish that at the end of the course they can do something good with the information they get from here and with the clear commitment to stay here as a volunteer teacher for a certain time to pass on what they have learnt."
"Mr Karl...you will not believe how popular our classes are for entrepreneurship and inventorship. People just come in here, have a good look around and enrol for these courses of which I hope we can offer more and more."
"This country needs jobs and jobs can only come from the private sector. Ghana relies too much on state-provided jobs, this mentality must change. We need enthusiastic and highly motivated people of all ages to go into wanting to start their own business."
"And Mr Karl...as you are always quite rightly are saying and promoting your idea," was Miss Grace Awuni not able to hold her joy back, "in farming as the growing population of Ghana needs good and organic food in big quantities which only our own farmers should grow for us. For too long we were focusing on industrialization forgetting that without good and enough food on the table no factory worker can do his job. And farming comes with management of the farm, not just putting seedlings into the ground and harvest whatever has grown. The right, the best technologies to do the work in combination with best practises of modern management...."
"Miss Grace Awuni....," laughed Mr Karl while Joyce Love, a student in the cooking class served both self-made cakes coated with white chocolate. Mr Karl gave her a big compliment and a tender smile. "Mr Awuni...you are the best...I am so, so proud of you. This cake is another proof of the great work you do here. I mean it is amazing that we were able to convince people that have something to offer to share their professional expertise with others a few hours a week so that they can learn from them and improve without asking for any financial compensation for their time given and their expertise shared."
"To me, Mr Karl...honestly speaking...it is still a miracle. Each day I must pinch myself into my arms to feel that all this here is real and not only a dream. Without your great vision and leadership, all this would have never been possible. This school is so much a centre point for many people in the area. When a course must be cancelled for the day as the teacher is sick, people are so unhappy they want to rush to the teacher`s private home to wish him a speedy recovery. This school has brought all of us together like a noticeably big family. People greet each other on the roads, they meet in their houses, they study together in groups and do their homework there together. We have come together as a people, that is for sure...Mr Karl. And all these only thanks to you."
"Oh...oh...no, no... Miss Awuni," rejected Mr Karl any such compliment that did not originate on one of his very own ideas. "This is not a concept that I have invented ever. It is an idea that was invented in Germany years back and that was one puzzle of a bigger picture to help Germany grow. All I did is to know about it, though it is the right way forward for our area to improve and decided for it to happen."
"Yes, it might be so...but," insisted Miss Grace Awuni, "without your persistence and fighting spirit with your countless efforts and determination...without all that is you...this school would have never come on stream and into the life of our people. The many arguments my people were bringing against our Adult Education School which you call in Germany VHS Volkshochschule...you see, Mr Karl...I speak a bit of German...George, our professional truck driver that once was living in Germany...he was teaching me very, very small... ."
"You have done well...my great lady," smiled Mr Karl all over his face. He walked with her over to the administration block, sat down and looked at the plan behind her on the wall. It was the vision for the next five years. A school with more rooms, a campus, areas for people to meet in small groups, the lab o invent machinery, IT-rooms, an organic garden, and a showcase for farming technologies. "We still have so much to do...so, so much!" Mr Karl took a deep breath thinking of how to finance all his dreams for his people that he was responsible for.
"It was just such a great idea, Mr Karl, to ask all people that litter the environment for a heavy, heavy fine like they do in Singapore. Not only did our area get cleaner but the money you raised was able to finance this school and other interventions."
Mr Karl laughed and remembered the insults he had to face: "When we got serious like the rules are in Singapore to make and keep our place here around just as clean as over there in Asia, the people like it so much and at the same time got back into their old, old habit to ump waste anyhow around their houses and workplaces. But when we decided that anyone can report anyone to the authorities even not having to give its own name only some form of clear evidence of the offence committed. And when we set up a task force to follow up such cases immediately, we were able to hold so many people to account. Once they are unwilling to admit their wrongdoings, we take them to our newly set up fast courts in which their cases will be processed in just under one day and the fine imposed will be handed down. In case the people are unable or unwilling to pay the fines handed to them they will find themselves in one of our new prison cells until the fine is paid by them or family members or whoever. Our fines are heavy, they are serious and can easily cost the perpetrators more than six-month monthly income. Of course, it caused heavy attacks on me...but you know what? I simply do not care about any insults, in fact, I always have a good laugh...as I know in the end over time this place will just be like Singapore. And therefore, it is worth fighting and getting all the blame for their uncomfortable life by taking money away from them for their wrongdoings."
"You are absolutely right, Mr Karl...and for that I admire you so much!" said Miss Grace Awuni with a bright light in her eyes.
"I just do my job that is all...no need for compliments....just more need to inspire me with greater ideas...that is all," smiled Mr Karl while wanting to get up as time had flown by and his agenda for the day showed him the need to check on the new sewage system.
"Before you head off to your new appointment...you are such a busy man always, hard to get hold of you," smiled Miss Grace Awuni standing in the door of her office to see Mr Karl off, "let me inform you that several people around the world have heard from our vocational studies that are like the once in Germany. Three years of training, half of the time in school and the rest on the job. They think this is a great initiative so that plumbers, electricians, masons, carpenters and so on will be very professional people and advance our local economy. Financial institutions and companies from abroad have asked me how they can help to improve the situation on the ground. They want to give Venture Capital and want a partnership with our people so that they can set up their own small and medium-sized business."