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The "Berekuso on our minds" campaign
by Sarah Mills

I smile quietly as I listen in on the conversations going on in the back of the bus - classmates catching up: promotions, relationships, recollection of school time memories and plans for the future. I’m sitting in the front of the bus, not in the back with the group because I’m battling the beginnings of a potentially terrible flu. I’m not missing out on much because I can overhear all the conversations. We are on our way to Berekuso, Ashesi’s future home. It’s an early Saturday morning yet still they all came out - dressed for the trip; shorts and t-shirts, sneakers, sunglasses, hearty hearts and contagious laughter.

These are my clients, the people who keep me employed. I am happy when they are happy and this Saturday is one of those moments where I feel honoured to serve such a group. They’ve come out to see the campus; the happening of Berekuso. We’ve been talking about it for a while; but now, it’s actually happening.

Construction progress is well underway with the foundations of all of the academic buildings complete; columns which support upper floors and roof structures are off the ground and the outlines of the terraced seating arrangement of the classrooms can clearly be seen on the floors. I want them to see these—to feel the sense of excitement those of us still at Ashesi are feeling as the buildings start to take form on the one hundred acre site.

“Sarah why aren’t you sitting here in the back with us?” comes a voice from the back. Fred’s, I note. “Aside being contagious,” I respond, “I need to be here in the front because we have to make stops to pick up some other people,” I add. “Right,” comes the voice from the back.
Ralph and Chris Sutherland, lead architects and heads of Ashesi’s campus construction consulting team are on site and lead the group to the meeting room. Associate Director of Development, Matt Taggart welcomes the group and introduces Ralph and Chris Sutherland.

The architects give an overview of the project and explain in detail all of its components. Patrick Awuah arrives and welcomes the group again before we split into two groups for the tour, lead by Ralph and Chris and assisted by Matt and Patrick.

We return to the meeting room after the tour for drinks, snacks and interaction. Patrick Awuah talks about the reason for the trip and launches the Berekuso class naming campaign. He mentions that Ashesi has secured 99% of the $6.4 million needed for construction. “We hope Ashesi alumni can help us fund the final 1% and put the last stone in place.”

Charles Dollie ’06, Alumni Association President, encourages all alumni present to support the campaign as “it’s a great way to further create the Ashesi legend”. Nii Amon Dsane ’05; Emi-beth Amable ’07 and Senyo Akaba ’06 all pledge their support of the campaign and encourage their classmates to do the same. Senyo Akaba recounts some of his Ashesi experiences; those that helped shape his life and the friendships he made. “I would like future Ashesi students to experience Ashesi in a grander way, that is why I support this campaign,” he adds.

Alumni leadership challenged each class to raise $5000 towards the Berekuso project. Any class that is able to raise $5000 will have the names of donors, beautifully engraved on a plaque that will be placed at the entrance of a class room on the new site. All donors will also have their names engraved on the Founder’s Wall which will be mounted at the entrance of the campus. If each alumni can commit to making a small monthly contribution - $20 or less - we can easily make our goal. The table above shows a breakdown of the monthly contributions it will take to have each class name a classroom in their honour.

Pledge cards were distributed and several alumni returned their cards that very day. At the time of departure, the following classes had contributed these amounts:

Class of 2005 - $1,555.595
Class of 2007 - $140.746
Class of 2009 - $600.00
Class of 2010 - $761.73

There was further interaction and tons of photo-taking before we boarded the bus back to Accra. I was still high on flu medication but I managed to have fun. The trip had been successful and I was excited about the campaign. In the following weeks, I together with my team of volunteers, executives of the alumni council will further engage alumni to keep the excitement about the campaign going and provide tools to make the payment of their pledges easy.

As the Ashesi bus went down the bumpy Berekuso road, I slipped quietly into sleep mode. I could still overhear the conversations and the laughter. These are the men and women who are empowering future generations of Ashesi students to help transform Africa, one student at a time. I was honoured to be in their presence.


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