gmhTODAY 15 gmhToday July Aug 2017 - Page 96

Awaso Academy International • Vision of Father Paul Mensah Effort to support Ghanaen school Special to T gmh TODAY he people of Ghana can attest to the generosity of community groups from Gilroy, Morgan Hill, and San Martin that have been neighborly in the best sense of the word. Individuals, businesses, faith-based organizations, educators, and social groups have joined Ghanaians to fill an educational need in their country. Father Paul Mensah founded Awaso Academy International and the Awaso Hope Foundation to introduce a new culture of education in his native Ghana. He grew up in the small village of Awaso and after earning a Master’s degree from Santa Clara University, he returned there to minister to the village community. When asked about his decision to begin the school he described how one day a dying infant was brought to him. The child had been beaten and abandoned in a trash incinerator—a testimony to the desperation and poverty in which the villagers felt trapped. To Father Paul’s way of thinking, the child was “a gift from God,” and the incident inspired him to work for educational change in Awaso. Father Paul named the child “Nyame Kye,” which means “gift of God.” He saw in the child’s rescue a metaphor for saving the castaway talents and potential of the people he ministers to and serves today. The child’s story also inspired people here in South County. When Paul returned to Santa Clara University to pursue a Master’s in Education Administration, he contacted everyone he knew in the States and in Canada, sharing his plan to help 96 GILROY • MORGAN HILL • SAN MARTIN the people of Awaso overcome poverty and become self-sufficient. By 2009, he had refined his vision and renewed his deter-mination to achieve results in one generation. He initiated an international voluntary effort coordinated through the Awaso Hope Foundation. Among the people who have joined to support this effort are Scholarship Co-chair Monica McClintock; Maryann Kantmann, Ghana Dinner fundraising chair; and Jacqui Kanode, who travels to Awaso to coach teachers there. Monica McClintock Monica is a member of St. Catherine’s Church in Morgan Hill. When she and her sister Janet Leach learned of the project they decided to support it in a big way. They went to Ghana in 2010. Since that time they have been collecting and shipping school supplies, providing support on Facebook, fundraising, preparing mission visitors to the school in Ghana, and working to obtain sponsors for Awaso Academy’s students. According to McClintock, “When we are in Ghana, we work with