Generally in Africa, and more specifically in Ghana, we list a number of causal factors for our appalling rate of economic, social and personal development. One of such factors is colonisation; however, after 60 years of independence, we haven’t significantly improved like some of the Asian Tigers who also came out of a similar situation. We have also blamed   governmental systems for its inefficiencies.

For us at Little Beginnings Trust Foundation (Little BeginningsTF), we understand that our disappointing rate of development is because we fail to recognise that values shape human progress as Harrison and Huntington have proven.

We are showing our solidarity and support for World  Values Day 2017 by establishing a number of StoryHuts in communities. This year, we will set up 5 StoryHuts in 5 communities. This will impact 500 more children besides the 60 children we currently work with.

Motivational Type of Values 

TheTheory of Basic Human Values by Shalom H. Schwartz brought an interesting phenomenon into perspective: that there are common values that act as a guiding principle for one’s life.

The theory recognises that values are categorised into 4 high order groups: Openness to Change, Self Enhancement, Conservation and Self Transcendence. A cross section of leaders either good or bad such as Woodrow Wilson, Christopher Columbus, Margaret Thatcher, Abraham Lincoln, Ghandi, Sir Isaac Newton, Charles Darwin, Kwame Nkrumah, Lee Kwan Yew just to name a few embodied values that had an impact on their actions and their outcomes. Many of these leaders who have been instrumental in the swift development of their nations exhibit values that primarily fall within categories such as Openness to Change and Self-Transcendence.

On the contrary, countries with leaders that exhibited high levels of Conservation and Self Enhancement experienced a slowdown in development within their countries . The fact that there is a common trend of conservation and self enhancement values in many African countries demonstrates that values play a significant role in development.

Building strong children

At Little BeginningsTF, our mission is to introduce children to values using books and stories as a tool. Currently, we are utilising resources from the Human Values Foundation (HVF) that enables children to understand each value. Frederick Douglass’ quote of “building strong children being easier than repairing broken men” has been proven true by Singapore’s remarkable progress in a space of three decades. Singapore, the tiny red dot, has  achieved this by giving students the best attention when they are still young. In a multi-ethnic country, Singapore’s education system and job markets offer equal opportunity for all.

A study by UNICEF-supported by Multiple Indicator Cluster Surveys states that early childhood which spans the period up to 8 years of age is critical to a child’s cognitive, social, emotional and physical development because of the exceptionally strong influence of early experiences on brain architecture; the first years of life are a time of tremendous opportunity.

The Magic of Stories

Stories are powerful. They not only entertain us but also provide powerful hotspots for memory as well as role models. Everyone remembers some story they heard in their childhood which has informed decisions, their ideals and preferences within their lifetime.

This is why at Little BeginningsTF, it is important that the stories must be brought to life and made magical in the eyes of the child. One other thing that is critical is to adapt the stories to the local context because they serve as powerful reminders and memory banks. When the storytelling enables a child to feel the sensations that are portrayed in the story, it means they are bound to remember it in their unique ways.

Once the magic has been created, the next stage for us is instilling these values. With the help of Human Values Foundation we have started with the 5-star value system which awards a child for attempting to practice a value. We are also looking to implement a set of activity challenges that will include parents, the first influencers of a child, so they can practise these values, especially those that appeal to them, and hone them.

World Values Day 2017 is important in creating the needed awareness of values especially for children. More importantly, it will give Little BeginningsTF the opportunity to add on more and more children every year, stimulating the right values required to trigger the development we all strive to see on this continent.

About The Author

Priscilla Bamfo is in her 10th year of volunteering in Ghana starting first with Osu Children’s Home and then later with the Nyohini Children’s Home where she helped house mothers look after the young children and read stories to the children. She co-founded Little BeginningsTF with Wofa Kojo Kwarteng 3 years ago. 

 

Further Reading:

Video – The Story of Priscilla Akoto-Bamfo and “Little Beginnings”

Further Resources