“I am passionate about quality basic education for children that starts with and builds on the local language and culture in poor, rural and underserved areas.”

My favorite place
for holiday-shopping
is Pambe Ghana,
a Fair Trade market
in Oklahoma City.
It is run completely by volunteers,
the items are all handmade
Fair Trade items
and the proceeds all go to support
bi-lingual education
using Montessori teaching methods
in a village in Ghana.
La Angum Learning Center was founded
by an Oklahoma City University
alum who received her master’s
in Montessori education, then returned
home to her village
to found a school so that children
could learn while speaking their native language.
Ghanan schools traditionally
teach only English—a language unknown
by the children—in the first three grades.
Alice Azumi Iddi-Gubbels
established the school in 2007. Each year,
a new class is added and villagers
construct the expanding school
using local materials, including bricks
made of mud. Children can now attend
school at La Angum through the sixth grade.

At so many levels,
holiday buying at Pambe Ghana
is sustainable:
the people who make the goods
get fair prices;
the goods are beautiful;
buyers learn the stories
of people in other cultures
who make the items;
shoppers get to meet
the wonderful volunteers
dedicated to helping Alice
and her school;
the children of a Ghanan village
receive an excellent education;
Oklahoma buyers stand in support
of a Ghanan village full of parents
who care about their children;
and the gift-receivers connect
with so many
when they open,
use and enjoy their presents.

Some of my favorites
are beads made by a group of women
who have been accused of being bewitched
(though they are not)
and come together for healing
to be able to re-join their communities.
Brightly colored,
amusing, hand-knitted finger puppets.
Bells (friends receiving these will be invited
to send love and healing to Earth
when they hear them ring.)
Seed pods (made by a family that collects
the pods seven hours from their home)
painted brightly and made into fanciful African birds.
Gorgeous, sturdy, roomy Ghanan baskets.
Exquisite textiles,
including batiked fabric
and a wall-hanging perfectly crafted
with potatoe-stamping.


Pambe Ghana
is at 6516 Olie St.
in Oklahoma City.
(Two blocks north of 63rd Street;
one block east of Western.)
It’s open noon to 6,
Tuesday through Saturday
through December 23.
Look for them too
next week at the “Pop-Up Market,”
mid-town Oklahoma City—
10th and Walker. See more
about Pambe Ghana on their
facebook page.