“It’s like a parade everyday!”

When I was in middle school I had dreams of becoming a comedian or an actor or have my very own Skippy peanut butter commercial. Alas, none of those dreams or backup dreams came about. They’re now just fuzzy memories of childhood fantasy and half-written acceptance speeches. But whenever I come to Ghana I feel a bit of what I was seeking for so many years ago as a future guest host of Saturday Night Live. Everyday, no matter where I go, I feel famous, not Jersey Shore famous but megastar, signing autographs, kissing babies, cutting ribbons, Mann’s Chinese Theatre, George Clooney famous.

No matter how large or small the villages we drive through are, I see children shout and point while their parents wave and smile. It seems like a novelty to see an Obruni, Brafuno, Yavu, or anyone else of a creamy complexion passing through their town. (I must state here that this is not the reason I come to Ghana, it might be a factor in my returning so often, but not the driving force.) But these drive-by greetings are nothing compared with the warm receptions we receive on the day of an installation. Compared to then, these frequent and fleeting encounters seem downright cold, and this last installation didn’t disappoint!

Every installation I’ve been to has been different and reflects the traditions of that area. The singing and dancing and drumming are similar but each has their own flavor. And Tuanikope proved that you are never too old to join in on the dancing, or that you necessarily have to be African to dance like one (or at least try to dance like one). This celebration was also different from the rest because we had friends from the Forever Young Foundation with us who were more than happy to join in with the installation and of course the dancing afterward.

The system at Tuanikope is merry-go-round number 21, meaning that over 4,000 students now have access to portable light, a better education, and brighter future. These students can read and do homework at night well after the sun goes down reinforcing what they’re taught at school while fostering in them a lifelong love of learning. High school, college, careers and families then follow, setting the foundation to a much greater impact over generations as parents grasp the importance of education and share that love with their children. And each year new students begin school meaning that there are that many more parents who can spread the love of learning and establish a lasting foundation to stabilize Ghana. This wide-angle view of the impact a simple merry-go-round can have is simply amazing and inspires me to try harder to make sure that foundation is set and strong.