Dutch philanthropist hands over 6-unit classroom block to Zanko community

By Aminu Ibrahim
Social News Dutch philanthropist hands over 6-unit classroom block to Zanko community

Dutch philanthropist and retired Catholic Missionary, Theodorus Jabus M. Van der Geest affectionately called Brother (Bro.) Dick, has handed over a six unit classroom block together with ancillary facilities to Zanko community in the Wa West District of the Upper West Region.

The magnificent edifice, furnished with furniture, administrative offices, store and staff common rooms including a kitchen and lavatory.

Speaking at a durbar at Zanko to officially commission and handover the facility to the community on Wednesday, March 9, 2022, Brother Dick said he saw the need to use his pension benefits to build schools for deprived communities in order to bring education close to the doorsteps of children living in those communities.

"In 2006, at age 65, I became a pensioner. I then decided to use my Dutch pension to build classrooms in remote villages."

He said it was a gesture to give back to society, putting smiles on the faces of the destitute and bridging the gaps and barriers that hinders access to education by children living in isolated communities.

The kind-hearted philanthropist, Brother Dick disclosed that he receive support from his German friend, Dr Stell Rudolf in executing similar projects in the Upper West Region.

"We were lucky that one Dr. Stell got to know how we managed to build these schools. ... He told me that he also wanted to support us here in Ghana and donate money for some of the schools we intended to build."

He also commended the community for offering free labour and demonstrating absolute commitment throughout the project execution period.

He urged the community, teachers and pupils to take good care of the edifice to prolong its lifespan and adopt strong culture of maintenance.

"I want to ask the teachers of the school to see to it that the pupils will use the classrooms well. I have seen in some of our 15 schools that pupils are hanging on the windows and doors. They use them as play toys, which damages them."

Elder Yelbaani Yuonye speaking at the ceremony on behalf of the Zanko-Naa, Naa Mwininmanku Summe II, expressed gratitude to the Dutch philanthropist for the show of love and compassion for humanity in putting up the building to secure a safe future for their children and community.

Out of uncontrollable joy and gratitude, Elder Yuonye likened Brother Dick to a savior as he said, “I am going to say something which I know Bro Dick would not approve of, but he is like a second God to this community.”

He asked for God's continuous blessing upon the philanthropist and all who supported the raising of the magnificent structure.

Piree-Naa, Naa Dondoma Mwinisigey Sungbanyira Aaron II, the Human Resource Officer at the Wa West District Education Office, representing the District Director of Education, thanked Bro Dick and his partner for the support.

He noted that government alone cannot deliver all the educational needs of the country, hence the need for such philanthropic support.

Naa Aaron appealed to parents to invest in their children’s education by investing in the pursuit.

He asked them to put their children's educational needs as topmost priority and strive to meet them in all honesty.

The Headteacher of the Zanko RC Primary School, Jabir Yahaya said the building would improve teaching and learning.

He appealed to the Education Directorate to resolve the remaining infrastructural deficit facing the school, and provide potable water for the school.

He appealed to the District Assembly to provide the locality with a Junior High School (JHS) block to enable the children continue with their education when they complete their primary school.

The pupils of the school could equally not hide their joy as they heap praises on Bro Dick and promised to take their studies seriously.

Since 2006, the Dutch philanthropist has already provided similar structures in 15 communities across selected districts in the Upper West Region.

The facilities includes classroom blocks, teachers' quarters, boreholes, lavatories (some eco-toilets), kitchen.

The beneficiary districts include Wa East, Wa West, Jirapa, Nadowli-Kaleo and Daffiama-Bussie-Issa districts, all in the Upper West Region.