Ghana – donation

Just after Christmas, Simon Clarke, the Vice-Principal of Jennie Elliott Elementary School in Calgary, approached me to see if I would be interested in donating a painting to his school’s silent auction which, in partnership with the Calgary Zoo, is helping to raise funds to build a school in Ghana. I was thrilled to be able to help out, it’s just my kinda thing!

Of course, it would have made sense for me to design a hippopotamus of some kind (as building the school is a joint venture with the Wechiau Hippo Sanctuary project), but unfortunately, hippos weren’t on my radar at this moment, only elephants (having designed 4 elephants in the last month or so).

An auspicious animal and the largest creature to walk the earth, the elephant is seen in many cultures as a symbol of energy, strength and power. It is a creature blessed with superior intelligence and a very long life span. Because of this, it has become a symbol for knowledge and dignity. The Zulu’s revere the elephant as a symbol for wisdom, patriarchy and hallowed relationships, and countries like Thailand have made it one of their national symbols. The Elephant is one of Buddha’s sacred treasures, and Buddhists believe the white elephant symbolizes patience and insight. In Feng Shui the Elephant is known to be a symbol of good fortune. The elephant is thought to be the granter of all wishes.

With Ghana in mind, I have incorporated several Ghanaian “Adrinka” symbols throughout the iconic imagery of the elephant.

This will be placed in Jennie Elliot’s private silent auction at the Calgary Zoo in Februay, 2006.

Wechiau School and Hippo Sanctuary project history – photos and information supplied by Simon Clarke:

The Jennie Elliot Elementary School had been approached by the Calgary Zoo to enter into a partnership surrounding the Wechiau School and Hippo Sanctuary project.

Within the Wechiau Hippo Sanctuary there are 20 villages, the largest of which is Wechiau itself. The communities have worked with the Calgary Zoo to develop the sanctuary. Wells have been dug to supply fresh, clean water to each village. This initiative has been made possible with the assistance of Canadian Hydro here in Calgary. Solar panels and electric lights have been installed around each village and inside some buildings. This initiative was made possible through a partnership with the Rotary Club of Calgary. The Calgary Zoo has also committed to building a school that children from all villages can access.

Members of each village hand-made every brick needed to build the school. Many of these volunteers were children from schools from the surrounding area. In total, 4,000 bricks were made and all the villagers joined together to build the school.

At the same time, the Wechiau Hippo Sanctuary was being improved along a 40 kilometer length of the Black Volta River. This included the development of trails, viewing locations, lodges and the training of staff.

At this time, solar lights have been installed in many villages and literacy classes for staff are making a real difference within the community. The walls of the school are now standing, but a roof is still needed. Once a roof is in place, the government of Ghana will provide desks and teachers, and the school will officially be open.

Money raised from this silent auction will help fund the completion of the school.

Wechiau Hippo Sanctuary Elephant
Ghana, Africa
January 16, 2006