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United Way Blog

A Story About Education…or Is It?

Change has come to Pamdu, a close-knit community in southern Ghana.

Our story begins with 16-year old Suleiman Ibrahaim, a young man who is no longer missing classes at school. What accounts for his improved attendance rate? It’s not a new school. It’s not better teachers. It’s actually something as simple as water.

The digging of a new mechanized borehole now provides drinkable water to the 4,500 residents of Pamdu and its neighboring community of Paninamisa. It may not be immediately clear how clean water results in less absenteeism at school, but if you look closer, it suddenly makes perfect sense. Residents like Suleiman used to walk for hours every day on dangerous roads to collect drinkable water, cutting into time better spent learning in the classroom. Before the borehole, the alternative was drinking from stagnant water, the source for many contagious diseases. Just ask 56-year old Opanin Ayisi, who has noticed a lot less people being treated for waterborne diseases since the digging of the borehole.

Suleiman’s story is a perfect example of how health and education are intrinsically linked together. It’s stories like these that form the foundation for United Way’s entire approach to lasting community change. We work with partners to tackle the source, not just the symptoms, of a community challenges. And rather than focusing on one issue, we’ve adopted a holistic approach to strengthening communities, because we understand that the modern world has complex challenges that require multi-faceted solutions.

Our story began with Suleiman, but it doesn’t end with him. The same clean water that’s fueling improvements in education is also having a positive effect on Pamdu’s economy. Recently, 35-year old Mercy Mensah started a new job as a cook. No longer walking long distances every day to collect water, she is free to pursue a career and get on more solid financial ground.