“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.

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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.

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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.

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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.