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Changing the world, starting in Ghana

By Celeste McNeil; photos courtesy of Carly Markowski

Photo of 2018 Colorado To Ghana trip participants.

2018 Colorado To Ghana trip participants.

Twins Will and Carly Markowski have spent the past seven years volunteering with Colorado To Ghana, a locally-based nonprofit organization founded by area teacher and tennis coach Ben Wolfe. The siblings started volunteering while in the sixth grade and continued through middle and high school. They have an extensive list of work they have done over the years.

Collecting books, medical and educational supplies, as well as raising extensive funds, the Markowskis garnered the help of fellow classmates at Regis Jesuit High School (RJHS) through the “Breakfast with Ghana” club. The funds raised went to help with needed projects and also helped to offset costs for trips to the country.

When they turned 15, the Markowski siblings took their first trip to Ghana, where they painted classrooms at the Challenging Heights school and tutored some of the students. After returning to RJHS, they fundraised $2,000 to help with an expansion of the school.

Photo of Ghanaian boy adding handprint to school

Will Markowski raising a Ghanaian boy to add his handprint to a school mural.

The next year, as juniors, both Carly and Will returned to Ghana again. This time they visited the playground they helped fund while in sixth grade. Once home, they again organized a fundraiser at RJHS, collecting more than $3,000 for the International Sustainability Health Education and Water (ISHEW) organization to drill clean water wells.

As a senior, Carly traveled to Ghana a third time. She said drinking clean water from the well she helped bring to fruition was memorable. Carly understands the well provides more than clean water, it allows the village girls to attend school instead of walking miles each way to get potable water for their families.

Both Carly and Will have been changed by their experiences. Carly will be attending California Polytechnic State University in the fall, studying engineering. While working with Colorado to Ghana, she talked with experts from Engineers Without Borders. “It inspired me to do that with my future. I want to be able to work on projects all over the world that are sustainable and helpful.”

Photo of Carly Markowski with Joshua and Atta, founders of ISHEW Ghana.

Carly Markowski with Joshua and Atta, founders of ISHEW Ghana.

Likewise, Will has devoted considerable time and energy helping others who live in different circumstances than his own. He said seeing the children playing on the playground that he helped fund was one of his most memorable experiences. He stated his time with Colorado to Ghana made him more service oriented. “I’ve put nearly 100 hours into the Unified (Special Olympics) program at RJHS. Seeing how actions of mine brought joy into the lives of others made me more passionate to help others.” Will also plans to study engineering in the fall, at Purdue University.

Through planning, funding, and carrying out service projects in Ghana, the Colorado to Ghana students reach beyond their community and into the lives of peers that live halfway around the world and in a completely different life than the one they live in Douglas County.

Colorado to Ghana partners with Challenging Heights, a nonprofit and non-government organization (NGO) with a focus on rescuing and rehabilitating children from slavery. Colorado to Ghana also partners with ISHEW Ghana; NGO providing quality health care, potable drinking water, quality education and economic sustainability to the people of Ghana.

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