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Suhyen-Mpaem; The land of darkness

Thu, 4 Oct 2018 Source: Shadrack Odame Agyare

How would you feel living in a town without electricity with the moon or lanterns as the only source of light; limited or no source of water, and students journeying around the neighbourhood to get access to lanterns to aid them in doing their assignments and revising their notes towards examination?

This is the plight of Suhyen – Mpaem, a town in the New Juaben North Municipality/Constituency (subject to correction), in the Eastern Region of Ghana. Within Mpaem are three scattered settlements namely; Anum, Krobom and Aziadome. This implies that Mpaem comprises Akuapems, Krobos and Ewes.

The 3 are farming communities with farmers being predominantly Cocoa and Cassava farmers. They are also supported by the Palm wine tappers. The produce from their farms are, however, not produced on very large scales, that is, the communities mostly engage in subsistence farming. Apart from farming, the communities in Mpaem are also sand winning communities.

Education

Mpaem has only one school, the Mpaem M/A School, serving the three surrounding communities. The school, till 2012, tutored pupils from nursery to Class Six (6), where they move to other towns like Bunsu and Koforidua to receive Junior High School (J.H.S) Education.

Speaking to the headmaster of the school, Mr. Daniel Gyakyi, who has been there over a decade, he narrated that, the two classrooms which were initially being used as the Kindergarten classes, have eventually been converted to become the J.H.S Classrooms. Some other classrooms have also been partitioned with a plywood to serve two separate classes.

For example; the class six class and the form one class are also sharing one class and this hinders concentration in a class when lessons are on-going in the other. Adding to this, Mr. Gyakyi also explained that, students are forced to report to school late because very early in the mornings, the town is left at the mercy of some tiny insects known as midges, ‘ntumua’ among the Akans.

This insects cause very severe itch on the skin and leave your whole body with thick swells. As a result, most students report to school after sunrise as that is the only time the presence of the insects are not felt.

Electricity

Mpaem has no electricity serving any of the communities. Their only source of light is a technology known as the Merry-Go-Round mechanism. This technology or mechanism was introduced by an NGO known as Empower Playground. This mechanism has got to do with a fixed merry-go-round on the compound of the Mpaem M/A School.

As students play with it, the merry-go-round which has chargers beneath begins to charge and produce energy. This energy is stored in a generator-like box and later used to charge some thirty-five (35) lanterns which were donated by the same NGO. The 35 lanterns have been distributed among students according to their various neighbourhoods. That is to say that, five students leaving in Anum-Atia share one lantern. They meet at a spot in the evenings to do their home works and revise their notes.

Once they are done, the homes of the caretakers of the lanterns benefit from it just for a night, after which it is returned to the school the following morning.

WATER

There are only four boreholes in Mpaem serving the three communities. Even so, it is just three, sometimes two, serving the communities. Students from Mpaem M/A have to trek for about One and a half kilometres to draw water to serve the school’s kitchen and to aid students in other activities. This also delays the start of lessons.

Bad road network

One will have to constantly visit the automobile garages to get their vehicles fixed, should he/she decide to visit Mpaem by self-drive. The roads in Mpaem are in their deplorable state. The feeder roads make it unattractive for drivers to ply that road. A driver who will want to commute passengers to the town will usually have to charge twice the stipulated fare. Teachers in Mpaem M/A, due to lack of accommodation facilities, have to journey from neighbouring towns every day to be able to teach.

They journey about 3km daily from their homes to school and vice versa.

All these factors have made this productive town very unattractive to visit or live in; and has also lead to an insurgence of the rate of school dropouts, since pupils cannot journey every day to access education.

One may also wonder what is happening with regards to health care in the town. Truth be told, there is no over-the-counter drug seller talk less of a CHPS compound or a Clinic. During Keteke Ghana’s (a humanitarian outreach organization from the Ghana Institute of Journalism) visit to the town, a weed-hijacked uncompleted building was sighted as a proposed CHPS compound serve the three communities.

Now the questions are; what becomes of expectant mothers in labour? What happens to heavily ill people from the communities? How do farmers get their produce to other markets? What happened to the sustainable development goals? Maybe fate and destiny if not posterity will be our judge.

Columnist: Shadrack Odame Agyare