Alice Iddi-Gubbels is the founder of PAMBE Ghana, a nonprofit charity headquartered in Oklahoma City.
She is a native of the Republic of Ghana, West Africa, and made her way here through volunteer efforts with global not-for-profit organizations.
PAMBE was launched from an idea she had to raise money to help the people in her rural village build schools for children, and its seasonal Global Market helps her realize that goal.
“I had a long dream that I would like to go back and do something in education; education being one of the biggest challenges in our area,” Iddi-Gubbels said, “because it’s quite remote and access to schools — especially quality education for younger children — is challenging.”
Iddi-Gubbels and her group of volunteers collaborate with fair trade shops from around the world. They select the arts and crafts of artisans through a catalogue and sell their wares at PAMBE Ghana’s local Global Market, 6516 N. Olie Ave., to raise money for the artists and help expand the school in Ghana.
“Basically, [our mission] is to bring literacy to the underserved rural areas in northern Ghana through a bilingual approach in education in the Montessori methodology,” Iddi-Gubbels said.
Judy Federa volunteers as a board member. She made her first trip to Ghana this past year.
“We buy most of our stuff through a more limited sourcing network of places. It’s still pretty big. And the other part of it is if we know for sure about something,” Federa said. “One of the examples is the shea butter; it’s made in Alice’s village.”
PAMBE was launched in 2007 as a 501c(3), after a Swedish friend donated some of her inheritance to help fund Iddi-Gubbels’ school. The following year, one class was built. The school now educates children from prekindergarten through sixth grade.
PAMBE Ghana is managed through the combined efforts of volunteers and donations from local businesses.
“This hasn’t always been in this location; it’s donated space,” Federa said. “We’ve been fortunate to be in this location for several years in a row, but it’s been in different parts of the city.”
Local artists also donate their products to PAMBE Ghana’s cause.
“This is another thing. It’s not through a catalogue, but she’s a volunteer,” Federa said. “She makes these dog collars; she’s an Oklahoma City person. She [also] heads the children’s outreach services with the Metropolitan Library.”
Added Iddi-Gubbels, “She actually bought this material from Ghana and made them.”
PAMBE Ghana’s Global Market is divided into three rooms filled to capacity with ethnic-inspired artwork and crafts. It is open to the public, and Iddi-Gubbels said sale proceeds go a long way to meeting PAMBE Ghana’s goals.
For now, Iddi-Gubbels is focused on building a strong foundation for the school.
“The plan is to … consolidate and to make this really, really a top-notch educational system and eventually make it a training center so that other people can come and learn,” she said. “And that we have the capacity to continue to grow for the primary level, but also to provide support to whatever institution wants to replicate what we have.”
PAMBE Ghana is looking for additional volunteers to help run the shop, which is open noon-6 p.m. Tuesdays-Saturdays through Dec. 23. Learn more about the organization and market at pambeghana.org.
Print Headline: Market shift, PAMBE Ghana’s Global Market helps educate West African youth with proceeds from its seasonal fair trade shop, open locally through Dec. 23.