The primary challenge facing Crossover International Academy to date has been most basic: shelter. At the time of our earliest interactions, the Ghanaian boarding school was comprised of two huts (thatched roofs on sticks, no walls) serving as both classroom and sleeping quarter; a small, enclosed administrative building; and a water tank replenished regularly by students with potentially-tainted water from Lake Volta. (The facility was situated on rented land, a quarter of a mile from the lake.) At night, the students slept three or four to a mat on hard dirt, without blankets or pillows. Precipitation would frequently force students off the ground and onto benches, soaked and cold, or off-campus, into the homes of local villagers.
The Big Vision
In June of 2013, Wings for Crossover was created as a 501c3 nonprofit organization with a big-picture objective: to construct the buildings needed to educate and shelter the orphans of Crossover International Academy. Initial fundraising efforts netted enough funds for the architectural renderings of this new facility, which would include two classroom blocks, boys’ and girls’ dormitories, a library, a vocational block, and administrative building, all laid out logically across three acres of land. With issues of imminent hunger and rampant water-born illness providing daily distraction, it was ambitious indeed.
Crossover Academy, with the help of Wings for Crossover, purchased a two-acre plot of land for $20,000. (The new site is within walking distance of its current location and ideally elevated on a plateau overlooking the lake.)
January – April 2014
Crisis suspended progress. A year earlier, the Ghanaian Ministry of Health had conducted its annual inspection of the property and issued a clear warning: improve the living conditions in one year or the school will be shut down. To stay open, $3,000 was diverted from the planning process to build a temporary shelter. The setback was, in the end, a blessing; the local builder assigned to the task delivered an exceptional product on time and under budget, and was hired to replace the original builder at lower cost.
Crossover Academy, with the help of Wings for Crossover, purchased a third acre of adjacent land for an additional $10,000. The final steps toward breaking ground were methodically checked off. With surveyors satisfied and site plans and final drawings in place, the local planning commission gave its blessing.
Without the entire funds for the project, construction began piecemeal. In spring 2104, building commenced on the two classroom blocks, alone. One of the blocks was to contain six classrooms for primary school students, with three classrooms in the second block exclusively for middle school use. Together, these buildings would accommodate nine classes of students from Kindergarten through eighth grade.
May – December 2014
Crisis returned. It had long been recognized that contaminated water would threaten the security of Crossover students no matter how thick the walls, and a rash of water-born diseases plagued the school that summer as if to prove it. (And, tragically, one young student drowned in Lake Volta while collecting water. Another died of sickle cell.) Pegasus students sent a shipment of Hurley water filters for drinking as a stopgap, but fundraising resumed to build a well.
Early December 2014
Construction of a Bore Hole delivering clean drinking water to the Crossover community was completed. Plans for a septic tank to accommodate boys and girls bathroom stalls and showers were finalized.
Late December 2014
The two classroom blocks were completed. The structures were immediately utilized for educational purposes, but – until further building commences – as dormitories as well. While undoubtedly a refuge, the buildings were empty and students both studied and slept on the cement floor. Students at the Pegasus School quickly launched a holiday fundraiser to address the need. They sold “Merry Mats” for $30 a piece to kids and their families eager to provide comfort to the Ghanaian students. Today, those mats serve as cushion at night, and a desktop during the day.
2015: Next Steps
Students at The Pegasus School, Sage Hill, and Mater Dei are currently brainstorming small-scale fundraisers (like “Merry Mats”) to be able to purchase proper desks for the new classrooms.
Fundraising continues for the next phase, the construction of four dormitories.
In 2015, work on the school was completed. Right now, there are 6 lower school classrooms and 3 middle school classrooms. A huge thank you to everyone that helped make this possible!