THE EARTH, OUR HEART - 2014-2016 AND ONGOING
Posted by Micky O'Toole on Nov 29, 2016
It has been nearly two years since I interviewed fellow Service Space member, Owusu-Fordjour Alexander, better known by his artist name “Ita Bobo" and wrote "The Earth Our Heart."
Ita Bobo - Recent News
Ita Bobo is a musician in Ghana, a health and hygiene officer for the Ghana government and the Director of an NGO called Earth Replenishers Foundation. Ita Bobo now has a television show in collaboration with the Mohtv and for the Ministry of Health to teach hygiene, nutrition and sanitation to the people of Ghana. Ita Bobo also teaches the schoolchildren of Accra.
Dancing, Singing - Best Teaching Tools
Ita Bobo creates curriculum, music, dance and games to teach the children of Accra about the importance of hygiene, nutrition and sanitation and how the lack of all three can lead to disease. The children not only learn very quickly this way, but they retain what they have learned. Ita Bobo choreographed some beautiful new dance routines for the children's programs. Here's a video starring a dance created for and performed by some of the Accra schoolchildren:
ERF Organizes Inter School Program: "Keep Your Surroundings Clean."
Trees and Television Teaching Show
Since I last wrote about Ita Bobo, he and his NGO, Earth Replenishers Foundation, have been working tirelessly to plant trees in Ghana. Along with the children's programs, Ita Bobo also has a also television show in collaboration with the Ministry of Health. The show teaches the importance of hygiene, nutrition, and sanitation to prevent disease; biodiversity to help the Earth; and kindness, compassion and service to help others.
From working with the children of Ghana, Ita Bobo learned that many are orphans and homeless. Many children have lost both parents and often entire families to the diseases that are rampaging through Ghana and through all of Africa. In 2016 Ita Bobo and ERF began to do research about how to build a children's home to help some of these homeless children. It is his and ERF's goal to build a 20-bed home in Accra in 2017.
Matt Perry - Institutu Mundo Libre
When Ita Bobo told me about this idea, I sent him a link to Matt Perry's work with children in Peru. Matt is one of the newest Service Space "Ladders." I saw on Institutu Mundo Libre's site that they have cards for sale to raise funds for the orphanage. Using this idea, Ita Bobo and ERF, with the help of Tziona Davis of Cleveland Ohio, will be working to get those cards made and up on the website for sale. They will be using the children’s drawings to make the cards, calendars, bookmarks and so on for the website fundraising store.
Tziona Davis, ERF Member, Ohio + Children's Artwork
Tziona Davis is heading up the fundraising project for the ERF Accra Orphanage here in the United States. I got a chance to speak to Tziona this month at length about the project. In the months ahead, Tziona will be working to get the cards created for the store. Meanwhile, Ita Bobo purchased the printer and will be scanning the children's drawings. In February 2017, Tziona's father is traveling to Ghana to speak to Ita Bobo and other ERF members in order to solidify the fundraising strategy for the orphanage.
A Collaboration of Three Nations
During the Awakin Call with Gitanjali Babbar, she spoke about the school she formed for the women and children on GB Road in New Delhi. I was deeply touched by her work. After the call I wrote a poem about how much her story impacted me. I sent her a letter and the poem and told her that I was working on music for the poem. Gitanjali wrote back a beautiful openhearted letter.
“Thank you for sharing the beautiful poem. I was in awe while reading that, as if in that call you visited GB Road and you met all the Didi’s (women). We have a big event called Kat-Kalrav on 15th August to celebrate freedom and we will play your song on GB Road, so please complete it as soon as you can:)”
I got the letter on July 7th – the festival was just over a month away. I'm a songwriter but it takes me a very long time to write music. I asked Bobo for help. He agreed immediately. He not only wrote the music, he hired a singer, hired studio time and recorded it. We got the song done just in time, the day before the festival and sent it to Kat Katha. I'm really proud of this "collaboration of three nations." You can find the completed song and video about how it came to be here:
"Not a Slave."
Apple Music Store - 100 Percent of the Profits
Ita Bobo has written some new music since then. You can find it here on the Apple Store: Good Lyfe. I have also donated one of my songs which Bobo will be recording and putting on the Apple store too. These songs and others will be used to fund the Accra Children’s Home, contributing 100 percent of the profits.
In the upcoming months and year ahead, ERF and Ita Bobo are planning events for the Accra schools. They will be organizing debates and competitions in ten of the area schools in 2017 which will involve a big debate competition, newscasting, a rap show, singing and dance all relating to sanitation and hygienic practices and how to care for the homeless. The school in first place will get an award. They hope to increase the competition in years to come to other regions of Ghana.
Ita Bobo and some of the schoolchildren of Accra
Ita Bobo and Tziona Davis will announce the orphanage fundraising campaign via Thunderclap which will link to the Apple store and the ERF Accra Children's Orphanage fundraising page on the website. Next steps are building the site, gathering songs for the store, creating and the children's greeting cards for the website. If any artists, photographers, writers or musicians would like to contribute songs, artwork, photography, poetry or prose for this project, please contact Ita Bobo. (https://www.servicespace.org/my/profile.php?mid=147096).
Grateful for Connection
I've learned a lot from working with Ita Bobo and I wish him, Tziona and ERF all the best in the years to come. Most of all, I'm very grateful for Service Space and for the connection to so many people around the world who work hard every day in service to, and with love for, the people in their communities.
In service and with a grateful heart,
♥. Micky O'Toole