The Elementary School of Ketognakopé

In the fall of 2009 Antonio Benedini, returning from his first trip to Togo, involved the Lions Club Arona-Stresa, which he is a member of, to support this project. Together with the Sisters of Nôtre Dame de la Trinité it was decided to furnish the elementary school of the village of Ketognakopé, in the interior area of the country, with a concrete building. The school had very few classrooms to accommodate the students. Many classes had lessons under a big tree in the centre of the mission or in a hut. Books or notebooks were a luxury they could not afford, the teaching was done almost entirely orally, memorizing the teachers’ lessons.
Today all the children have their own classroom furnished with desks, books and notebooks and the school has added another class to it.

Even a cafeteria has been built, which guarantees a meal for all the students, and it is often the only meal they have for the whole day. The cafeteria is run through an agreement with the community of the village which has built the oven and guarantees the supply of wood and the presence of two mothers a day who take turns cooking for the children.

Antonio Benedini inaugura la scuola di Ketognakope in TogoThe school also has an internet connection

“This is an ambitious project,” the president of the Lions Club Arona-Stresa, Graziano Maraldi, said when the school was finished, “that we wanted to complete to celebrate the 50th anniversary of our club. Following the personal experience of one of our members in Togo we wanted to support that reality by fulfilling one of their requests: a school. However we did not want our support to end with the building of the school, but in creating an on-going relationship. Thanks to the interest of the administration of the schools of Arona, the project “Friendship without borders” was launched.”

The Istituto Comprensivo “Giovanni XXIII” of Arona (NO) works with Stella Onlus contributing to maintaining the school and the cafeteria on a steady basis through activities the student of the school carry out to collect funds.

Twin project between schools

The “Friendship without Borders” project

At the same time the decision to build an elementary school in Ketognakopé was made, the project “Friendship without Borders was started, a twin cultural project between the children of the elementary and middle school in Arona (NO) and the children of the school in Ketognakopé. The inter-cultural project, supported by the Lions Club Arona-Stresa and the Istituto Comprensivo “Giovanni XXIII of Arona, aims to be an exchange program between two different worlds, a way to learn and become familiar with traditions and customs of different countries, to make children (and not just children) aware of the idea of a different culture and of the enrichment that knowing a different culture and a reality can bring. The students of the schools in Arona during the school year 2009-2010 worked on group projects based on customs, cooking recipes, fables, tales, local history etc. which were taken to Togo by a delegation which went to Africa in May for the inauguration of the school. The students of Ketognakopé worked on projects dealing with the same subjects which were brought to Italy and were shown  in a sports event at the end of the year in Arona.

All the classes of the Anna Frank and Dante Alighieri elementary schools and the first classes of the secondary school Giovanni XXIII took part in the project. With this intention, professors gave preparatory lessons and the doctor spoke about his experience in the missionary hospital in Togo, discussions in class about the encounters and lastly the making of drawings, texts and signs.

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