PLAYTIME IN AFRICA
On April 24, 2016 | 0 Comments

Every so often, one comes across an extraordinary endeavor that must be talked about and given prominence. This one appears in my fiction, and now I want to talk about it in real life.

Mmofra Place is a rare, two-acre sanctuary in Accra, Ghana’s capital. “Mmofra” means “The Children” in Akan, the dominant indigenous language in the country. Renowned Ghanaian writer, educator and child advocate, Efua T. Sutherland, founded the Mmofra Foundation decades ago. It’s an NGO dedicated to providing children of all backgrounds a safe, green space to learn and play.

 

When you arrive at Mmofra, you step into a world far removed from the noise and dust of surrounding Accra. It is quiet and shaded. The atmosphere is delightful—almost joyful—with the presence of children.

Efua’s first daughter, Esi Sutherland-Addy, and her staff are on hand to supervise the kids in their reading and play activities.

They’re encouraged to express themselves through arts and crafts, music, drama, dance, and storytelling. There are vegetable and herb gardens with drought-resistant plants, all of which the children help cultivate. Energetic and talented volunteers, including professionals and students from Ghana, the United States, Europe and Latin America, have generously donated time and funds to support Mmofra.

 

 

It has come a long way since the first time I visited years ago. I was so impressed with it I knew I would include it in one of my novels. Near the beginning of the 4th Inspector Darko novel GOLD OF OUR FATHERS, I show Mmofra Park in the opening scene immediately following the prologue.

Every summer, Efua’s US-based daughter, Amowi Sutherland-Phillips, takes up residence in Accra for three months and joins in the stewardship of the park. In 2016, Washington-based Friends of Mmofra will join Amowi to focus on further development of Mmofra, which needs more than $10,000 in monetary and in-kind donations. Some of the targets include

  • Making Mmofra accessible to all children including those with special needs.
  • Installing hand-washing stations that rely on local water sources and operate by simple foot pedals.
  • Building a modern, outdoor kitchen for sanitary preparation of healthy meals.
  • Installing solar lighting.

Much work needs to be done for and by Mmofra, and I want to encourage individuals, companies, and organizations to join in its support, because Mmofra is a concern too impressive and valuable to ignore. Visit the website to learn more, follow @formmofra and like the Facebook page.