You’ve made it to the right place!
Discover how you can directly connect with children and
their community in Ghana.
Developing Kids – Ghana is a community-based ministry helping kids achieve success and escape generational poverty. At the same time, DKG also provides education and job resources to adults, and builds appreciation for local culture.
Join Anna, Moses, their families, and the children of Tampe Kukuo and help kids and a community flourish.
You can review a lot of information is on this page, so take your time looking around.
Some of the important items you will find include:
- Anna’s Story—How Developing Kids – Ghana Started
- Email sign up for DKG Updates and Odle News
- DKG Prayer Points
- How to Become a DKG Champion
- Present & Future Volunteer Opportunities
- How To Be a Direct Donor
DKG has a big heart and a big vision to be part of the solution to big needs facing kids and communities in northern Ghana. We are only this far because of prayer, relationships, and well-timed actions. We need more big hearts to join us.
Keep reading the DKG story and discover how you can add your prayers, relationships, and actions to change the lives—and the futures—of the children in Tampe Kukuo, Ghana.
“God, why am I here? What do you want me to do?” My prayer life over two years ago was dominated by these thoughts and questions.
I am a missionary, but at that time I spent 90% of my time homeschooling our children. I rarely left my house to interact with the local people.
God always answers, but he also prepares us for what He has in store down the road.
Northern Ghana is a vast savanna land and home to a major people group called the Dagomba. For centuries Islam has mixed with their own traditions and culture. Today, the culture is so mixed up with Islam that in the minds of the Dagomba, to be Dagomba means one also has to be a Muslim. As a result, only 3% of the Dagomba people are Christians—and they are mostly thought of as “outsiders.”
The Dagomba people are walking a tight rope between their indigenous way of life and the modern world that is exploding in their cities. There is a daily challenge to use their mother tongue, Dagbonli, and the growing need for better English speaking and writing skills.
Seeing The Problems with My Own Eyes
God opened my eyes to the challenges facing Dagbon when I volunteered in a Junior High School on the outskirts of Tamale. I went to tutor students who were struggling with reading skills.
On my first day, the headmaster walked into the third year student room, that is our American ninth grade, and asked everyone who could not read to raise their hands. Ten very bold students raised their hands and I met with them to evaluate their reading skills.
In the months that followed, I tutored more than 20 second and third year (that’s 8th and 9th grade) students with a wide range of reading skills. I had students who could read, but not fully comprehend the meaning of the words they saw and said. I also tutored students who did not even know all the sounds of the alphabet.
Most of the children in Tamale live in homes where English is not the first or even second language spoken! Dagbonli is the language of the Dagomba people and children speak it until they start school.
English is the national language in Ghana. All government, executive, management, teaching, and many other jobs require fluent English. But in the northern regions where we live, English is not widely spoken in the home or community.
When It Hits Home
Mordicia is a twelve-year-old boy in third grade—and he has been in third grade for three years. His father came to me many months ago and needed advice. Mordicia was being very disruptive in class and was always acting out as the class clown.
His father could see only two choices: take Mordicia out of school and find an unskilled trade for him or cane him and send him back to school.
I asked the father if his son could read and he replied, “I don’t know.” I asked the father to let me come and test Mordicai’s reading skills before he caned him.
When I sat with the boy the next week, I asked him what was hard about school and he told me reading. I asked him if he knew the sounds of all the letters and he said, “No.”
This is a common story in northern Ghana. Children go to school for years, but they never learn to read or speak English very well.
Bumping Against Limits Again and Again
It’s like planning travel to a foreign country. You buy a traveler’s phrase book and you memorize five or six of the most used phrases. You can get food, move from place to place, and find the “necessary room,” but you are not having life-changing conversations with a local person.
“Travel fluency” is a common English speaking level for children in Dagbon. They know five or six sentences very well, they can count money in English and basically get around—but otherwise they have very low comprehension.
After seeing all this first hand with people I know and care about, my prayer life took on a new challenge. “God, what can I do to help close the English gap for children in Tamale?”
I had donated reading books to over 40 schools, but that was not enough. I saw first hand many of those reading books sit in boxes and never reach the hands of the students who needed them.
In the next 10 years, kids I know are going to live in extreme poverty if they are not able to read and write.
They will not be employable by anyone—even local shopkeepers need to read labels and talk to customers. The only work left to them will be farmers and food or market sellers.
English reading and writing skills are essential to present and future success in the Ghana and Dagbon world today.
Navigating The Path to Education and Culture
God began to give me the idea of starting a youth center.
The center would be a place where kids could come for homework help, tutoring, reading clubs, Bible lessons, and learning life skills. I began to envision a place where volunteers come to do teacher training, teach English to adults, read to children and teach computer classes.
My mind was free to dream and as I would pray, God would open my eyes to see another way to love people and impact a community.
I had just two questions left for God, “Where will we do this work?” and “Who will help me?”
These aren’t easy questions to answer. Too many places want a building, program, or some other improvement money can buy—but are not really looking to change. Too many people are sold on getting status that work and maybe a paycheck and don’t have a heart to serve their own people.
There is an unspoken, but easy to see education divide in Dagbon that separates the young and the old. Men who are over 40 years did not have many opportunities to go to school. They are largely illiterate. Men under 40 had a greater chance of finishing Senior high school and going onto higher education.
The division is much worse for women and the elderly who are often looked down upon by their children and grandchildren because of the English divide. Children who can speak English have a highly sought after skill. Sometimes they weaponize their education and look down on their culture and family members who cannot speak English.
Aunty Grace can clean a house to make it shine and cook soup you would serve at a fancy dinner. She speaks five languages…but she cannot read or write. Keep in mind that Grace has good English skills—much better than most women her age.
One of her daughters constantly makes snide remarks about her mother’s English skills. And we see it all the time—kids get big heads when they know a little bit of English.
There is this divide—the natural arrogance of youth set on fire by the skill to speak English well—that has grabbed hold of the daughter like so many children of the north.
Honoring Culture in an Ever Changing World
I remember as a child my grandmother would tell me we had an ancestor who was Native American. That was the most fascinating fact from my family history to me. I yearned to have a language and culture that were unique to my people. But Americans don’t really have a single culture. We are a blend of many cultures and languages from around the world.
For over two years I have been studying and learning about Dagomba culture and the Dagbonli language. These people have a rich heritage and a traditional language that is also at a crossroads.
Young people today are bringing slang words into Dagbonli and many children are not learning to speak like their grandparents. Many only have an elementary understanding of Dagbonli.
The amazing thing about culture to me is that God created each culture and gave it to people groups around the world. God gave each people group their unique foods and methods of farming, styles of beauty and fashion, parenting styles and family dynamics, beliefs about how the world was made, and even beliefs about God himself.
Dagomba children today are caught between two worlds: the world of their ancestors and the world of money, entertainment, white people, and the West.
Language studies opened doors for me to enter a local community to practice my lessons with indigenous people. Through my interaction with people in that community and much prayer, God has answered my two prayers about where to start a youth center and who will help me.
Tampe Kukuo is a very old community on the outskirts of Tamale. Driving down the road to Tampe Kukuo you will see many new, modern homes along the way. You’ll pass fancy SUV’s parked in neat, gated, air conditioned houses landscaped with grass, flowers, and trees.
But when you reach the community, it is like stepping back in time a hundred years.
Extended families still live together in compounds made of traditional-style rooms. Round houses with grass roofs, cooking fires outside, fences made with sticks gathered in the bush, and animals of every kind, especially goats, sheep, and dogs, are roaming around.
God is Clearing A Pathway
Right now there is a lot of excitement in Tampe Kukuo because they are finally getting a school!
The Catholic church has agreed to fund the building of a primary school. This is the first for this community.
The community gave a large piece of land for the school and the men came out to clear the plot of rocks and trees. The men also donated labor to mold cement blocks and prepare the foundation. Everyone hoping and working so that the school to be completed by September 2020 and open when the new school year begins
We will build a library and computer lab next to the school and from that facility we will have reading clubs, computer classes, individual tutoring and more for the kids and community of Tampe Kukuo.
God has been opening doors for this project for a long time. He has been so faithful to answer our specific prayers.
Developing Kids – Ghana has a start-up cost of $15,000 and an additional $925 each month ($11,100 per year) to operate the program. We are relying on God to supply all we need to complete the building and furnish it with books and computers.
When God laid this idea out to me, I said “Wow, that would be great! But I am just one person and I need a partner to help me make it all happen.”
I, of course, always have my husband and life-partner Jared who helps me and encourages me in every way he can. But for this project I knew I needed a Dagomba partner. Someone who lives in the cultural divide and has a passion for education.
Two years ago Jared and I decided to dive into language studies and contacted the Tamale Institute for Cross Cultural Studies, a Catholic missionary training school. At that time, TICCS did not have a language teacher, so Father Joshua, the Director, asked Moses, a receptionist at the guesthouse, to start our language classes.
Born and raised in Tampe Kukuo, Moses had came back home 2014 to look for work after graduating with a Bachelor’s Degree in Dagbonli from the University of Education, Winneba. Four years later the government still had not employed him to teach and he got a job at TICCS.
Moses shares my passion for education and for loving “the least of these.”
Before going to university to become a teacher, Moses was trained as a carpenter. Please read the FAQ section full bio of Moses’s life and work. He has an incredible story and you will be amazed at how God has orchestrated his life.
In recent weeks, we have given our program a name, Developing Kids – Ghana. We have gone through the process of registering it as a non-profit in Ghana. Developing kids is no small task, it takes prayer, patience, and persistence.
We long to see the children of Tampe Kukuo become proficient English and Dagbonli speakers and readers who appreciate their culture and heritage and give glory back to God who made us all in His incredible image.
It’s a simple recipe.
Grow flourishing children who will be part of building flourishing communities, and we all give back to the God who causes all people to flourish where they are planted.
As I said, this journey is about prayer, patience, and persistence—and we need you to walk with us.
You can, of course, help kids flourish by giving towards the building of this library and computer lab. We need special gifts of all sizes to reach $15,000 and the $925 each month to operate the program.
I broke that down the other day and it’s 600 people giving $25 and we have $15,000. How many of those $25 slots can you fill? Maybe you can take one $25 slot—thank you!
Perhaps you can fill 10 or maybe even 100 of those $25 slots. Maybe you want to take 300 or all 600 of the slots because your heart matches our hearts. Whatever you can give—we thank you!
You can make a special gift with your credit card by clicking here right now.
You can also click here to email our forwarding agent Samantha Cowley for a bank to bank payment. Simply say, “I want to set up direct giving from my bank account to support Developing Kids – Ghana.” (You can even copy and paste that sentence!) Samantha will email you and give you all the details to make that happen.
You can also send a check to ACMI | 105 West Berry Street | Greencastle, IN 46135. When you send a check, just jot a note letting us know your gift is for Developing Kids – Ghana. All it has to say is “DKG”–nothing much gets past Samantha!
If you have a stock gift to make, please email Jared and he will help transfer your investment into flourishing kids in Tampe Kukuo.
100% of your special gift will raise the building, all $15,000 of it.
You know, it works the same way to keep the DKG program working. $925 a month becomes 37, $25 slots that we need to fill.
You can give the same ways as we receive special gifts, with two small, but important changes.
First, if you are becoming a regular donor via credit card, make sure to click the box that says
“recurring payment” during checkout. if you want to make regular, reoccurring, monthly donations. Otherwise, it will be treated as a special gift.
Second, if you want secure regular monthly or quarterly bank-to-bank merchant account transactions, please mention that in your email to Samantha. Just say, “I want to regularly give _____ to DKG directly from my account.” (You can fill in the blank and copy and paste that to Samantha as well.)
No gift is to small or insignificant! Partner with us today to help bridge the gap for the children of Tampe Kukuo and the surrounding area.
We Want You To Connect & Stay Connected to Tampe Kukuo
When you put your heart on the line, you want to keep it filled up. We have a few different ways you can choose to stay connected to the kids you are directly impacting with prayer, donations, and sharing their stories.
News—Sign up in the field here to get our DKG News, Odle News, Prayer Letter, and more. As the project takes shape and the program grows, we will have regular updates in your Inbox. We will post lots of pictures, articles, interviews, and more at odlesinghana.org and have videos on our Youtube channel.
So God is moving you to spread the word about the kids in Tampe Kukuo. Here are some things you can do.
Connect with us on Facebook—and share, share, share! If you haven’t connected with our ministry page Jared and Anna Odle in Ghana, just click the hyperlink and do so now. Once you like and follow the page, news and insights will come to you so share it with everyone in your world. Let people know this is something you are a part of and are excited about!
Share Videos on our Youtube Channel—Click this link and check out videos about Developing Kids – Ghana and other videos about our ministry. When you see one you like, simply share the link on Facebook, Instagram, LinkIn, or an email and let people know what you think.
Talk to One Friend—The most powerful form of communication is talking one on one. You can find one friend, relative, small group member, co-worker, and share with them about DKG. All you have to tell is your story—how you found us, what you learned, and what you are doing about what you learned. That’s all anyone can do. If there are other questions, send them to this webpage, or have them contact us.
Talk to your church’s Missions Team—We are very aware this is a crazy time in the world. Many of us can’t go to church (we are included when this was posted in early July 2020) and churches are scrambling to make changes.
But we always find that if someone in the church likes a ministry or mission, people are willing to listen and look. Maybe they can’t support a project or program at the moment, but you can make an introduction.
Talk to your Pastor—It’s kind of the same as talking to your mission team, but different. Pastors hear all kinds of things, know all kinds of people, and each one has a unique heart-string for ministry. When your share your heart, your pastor may respond in several ways—surprise (they might know us!), joy (you are involved in a cool Kingdom venture—especially if DKG pulls at their ministry heart-string),excitement to get involved or possible indifference.
Regardless of their response, you should feel free to let them know what God is doing in your life. Usually, it makes a cool moment you can share with your pastor.
- God is moving to love and provide for the kids of Tampe Kukuo. How awesome it is to be part of the answer of prayers kids, parents, and grandparents are praying!
- Right relationships at the right time.
- The community elders and chief have been praying for an opportunity like this for many decades!
- For the Lord to bring people’s hearts together that want to serve and love kids in Tampe Kukuo.
- Financial Resources—Yes, this will require money. Here is a cool thing that is going to happen. Some people will give because they love serving kids in Ghana. Some people are going to start loving kids because they will start giving. (“For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.–Jesus). Pray for the way God will bless, grow, and change givers.
- Pray for the community members to also give of their time and resources to move our project forward. You are not the only people giving! The community will give time and energy to clear the land and possible help with the construction of the library. Women give food to the workers, so everyone is playing a part.
Book Collectors—A group of retired teachers and librarians have already begun collecting books and resources to fill the library shelves. They can’t do it alone! You can get books at Goodwill, bookstores, garage sales—there’s a lot of ways you can help. Email Anna’s mom, Debbie, and she will guide you to find the treasures we need here in Ghana.
Teach English—We would love to have a trained TESOL (that’s Teaching English as a SecOnd Language) person in the community! There’s a chance to train our staff, develop curriculum, teach kids, hold classes for adults—we could overwhelm you! We need English teachers for short and long-term work.
Computer Person—While we don’t need a full-blown IT specialist—we could certainly use someone with tech skills! The computer lab will have about 20 computers, a copy machine, and probably a printer or two that will need some TLC. If you have, or want to learn, how to keep machines going, train kids and adults in basic computing, and have other digital skills like producing audio or video, HTML coding for email, design skills, or anything along those lines—we want to talk with you! We need computer people for long and short-term work.
Teacher Training–Are you a teacher wanting a cross-cultural experience? Would you like to share your gift of teaching with students and teachers in an under-developed area?
We could use your help! We need elementary teachers who want to share tips of the trade with Ghanaian teachers in our area. Share creative ideas on writing lessons, learning activities to re-enforce concepts to students, and classroom management ideas. You can also teach special classes to local students or organize a special event. We will announce trip dates in the future!
How will Developing Kids Ghana change the life of the community?
Tampe Kukuo has never had a library or computer lab, so just the building alone will give access to learning and computer literacy that the community has never had access to. Tampe Kukuo is a changing community, they were once just a farming community and now they are in the midst of a growing city. So young people must be prepared to join the workforce with English speaking and writing skills, computer skills and other vocational skills that will make them employable. Our goal is to eliminate barriers that hinder a child’s chance at a good education.
What are the Top 5 Outcomes DKG expects to see in Tampe Kukuo?
- All children in the community are enrolled in formal education (starting at 2-5 years old).
- All children by 3rd grade are reading on grade level and before finishing primary school all students will know the basics of using a computer.
- Every child should know “why” they go to school and value their education.
- Eliminate barriers that hinder a child from being a good student (empty stomach, lack of clean uniform or shoes, no books/pencil).
- Students will grow in their appreciation for Dagomba culture.
How will we measure the outcomes?
- We will track students through their performance at school (end of term grades).
- We will evaluate how the students are improving their English and other skills through their performance in reading clubs.
- The appearance of students will improve as they take school seriously and we assist them when needed in maintaining their uniform.
- We expect to see more parents enrolling their children in our programs.
- The school at Tampe Kukuo will develop a waiting list for students who want to attend because there are programs offered to their students’ parents will not find anywhere else.
How will Developing Kids — Ghana use the $15,000?
Build a computer lab and library with two rooms for tutoring students who need extra help with reading, writing, math, etc. The building will be 20×60 allowing us to hold reading clubs, computer classes, story hour, and other educational activities. The community will also benefit from the computer lab doubling as an internet cafe in the evenings and other services for adults will come as we develop our program.
Can people visit?
Yes, people can come and volunteer for 1-3 weeks. We need people to read to children, help with homework, tutor those who are struggling with reading, teach computer classes, repair or update computers, donate reading books or computers, do a week program for the children when they are on break (VBS), etc. We are also looking for interns to develop summer programs and help with tutoring, planning, etc.
How can I keep up with the kids?
We will post regular updates on our Facebook page Jared and Anna Odle in Africa. You can sign up to receive our monthly newsletter at odlesinghana.org.
Are long-term workers and volunteers welcome?
Yes, we can use some long-term partners joining us in Ghana. Here are a few job descriptions for long term workers.
- TESOL teacher for adults in the community.
- A gardening and farming guru.
- A computer specialist who can help develop our computer lab and do video/photography work for marketing. Webpage development would be a bonus.
- Teachers who have a background in special education or working with students with dyslexia and other learning delays.
- Someone with a degree in children’s ministry who loves to organize programs, who is a creative teacher and good Bible storyteller.
Why Tampe Kukuo?
Tampe Kukuo is located within the metropolis of Tamale. It is a very old community with roots going back many, many generations. Seventy years ago it was a farming community of uneducated, illiterate men and women, who were deeply entrenched in Islam. Moses was born and raised in Tampe Kukuo and his father is one of the current elders of the community. His family has been in Tampe Kukuo since it began.
Anna has been getting to know the community for the past year. She has attended funerals, baby naming ceremonies, church services, Ramadan celebrations, and other activities in the community. It has been very clear that God has brought Moses and Anna together to start Developing Kids Ghana.
God is the one who chose Tampe Kukuo, we are just his people, listening and following Him as He gives us direction.
Who Is Moses?
Moses was born and raised in Tampe Kukuo and is now raising his family there. He is the first in his family to graduate from senior high school and then went on to study carpentry at a vocational school. From there he spent an additional 2 years studying building at Tamale Technical University. However, his passion has always been teaching.
Moses enrolled at the University of Education, Winneba to study Dagboni for four years. He graduated in 2014 with a Bachelors’s Degree. The government was not appointing teachers in the following years, but he did complete national service at Bishops Jr. High school 2014-2015. In February 2017, he started working at TICCS as the receptionist for their guest house. The government started a pilot program in 2018, Nov for a three-year contract with NABCO (Nation Builders Corps) with the goal of reducing the graduate unemployment rate in the country.
Teaching and serving others is Moses’ passion. He has a real heart for those who are disadvantaged. Moses has made it a priority in life to encourage others to stay in school and he has financially assisted numerous individuals through the years. Developing Kids – Ghana is a place where his love for people and teaching can come together.
Moses is married and has 3 young girls.
Can you tell me more about Anna?
Anna moved to Ghana in 2016 with her husband Jared and their six children to serve as full-time missionaries. Anna grew up in St. Louis and had a calling to missions as a young child. God did not answer that call until later in life. Anna graduated from St. Louis Christian College in 1998 with a Bachelor’s Degree in Christian Education. She has homeschooled their six children for 15 years and continues to school the youngest 3 children at home.
Anna has always had a heart for serving the poor and she loves teaching. After moving to Ghana, she saw a need for reading books and teaching materials in rural schools and she organized the collection and shipment of 25 barrels of school books, which have been distributed to over 40 schools. Anna has studied Dagboni and Dagomba culture for 2 years as a student, with Moses as her teacher.
In 2018, God started to reveal His plan for a program to combine English language skills while encouraging kids to value their culture. In May 2020, Anna and Moses began the process of forming a partnership and starting Developing Kids Ghana to bring about positive change to Tampe Kukuo and children in the surrounding area.
How does Developing Kids Ghana build the Kingdom of God?
Tampe Kukuo is a community with Muslims and Christian who live together with respect for each others’ religions. Our goal is to make sure every child that we interact with experiences the love of Jesus in their lives.
The love of Jesus will look different to every child.
To the child who comes to school with no food or money for food, it will look like a warm meal. The child full of shame because their uniform is too small or torn, will experience the love of Jesus with a new uniform they are proud to wear. The child who has no pencil or school books will be filled with joy when they come to school prepared with their school supplies.
The goal of Developing Kids – Ghana is to love people for who they are and where they are in life and removing barriers that keep them from achieving all that God has for them in life.
Teaching the Bible and sharing the love of Jesus is a priority for Developing Kids – Ghana! Kids will hear the Good News in reading clubs, special events, and our everyday interactions.
We will make no apologies for being Christians and letting people know that God is doing a great thing in their community and it begins with each person having a relationship with him.