originally published November 2008

Curtis Andrews

Curtis Andrews sharing the instruments of Africa at MUN

Curtis Andrews, local musician from the Idlers put off a fundraising event last Thursday at the Majestic featuring a pile of performers with silent auction. It was all in aid of his space which unlike others previously profiled won’t be his own. Curtis’ space – is in Africa! He’s been working to build a school and 4 months ago needed $6,000.00 to get the job done.

What brought you to Dzogadze, Ghana?

I went to Ghana in 1999 to study music in a village called Dagbamete.  My teacher took me to Dzogadze, his mother’s village, to see performances by local cultural groups. When I returned to Dzogadze in 2002, I became the first outsider to learn a difficult old dance along with drumming and singing. I’ve spent a total of 12 months in Ghana, but spread over 9 years!  When I’m away it doesn’t leave me.  I always think about it, the people and experiences; I’m in communication with people in different towns and villages who keep me updated.

How do you just ‘initiate a school building project’?

I knew I wanted to help the village; after asking what was needed most during my last trip in 2007, they said a school.  My best friend/teacher and 2 chiefs were appointed as trustees to the Dzogadze Education Development Fund which will help with school fees for bright economically depressed students and buy school supplies in the future, once the school’s built.

What makes this place different?

One of the most striking things about Dzogadze is the way people treat me.  I have some real genuine connections with people there.  Part of it’s because no one had ever come and stuck around to learn about their culture.  It means a great deal to people.  I take time to learn their language, eat the food, drink the water, I have no fear or qualms about life there and people respect that.

How will the school be used?

This building will house 2 classes that are currently held outside or in borrowed space. While we think of classes outside as being romantic, when a torrential downpour or dust storm blows through it can be disruptive.  The government of Ghana told the village, if they were to construct a building, the government would pay the teachers. For now, the village is paying a couple of teachers.

What elementary school is partnered with you?

All Hallows in North River is associated because I teach there sometimes.  The principle, Kevin Giles, is supportive and wanted to help. The school has done some fundraising, but also has charitable status and able to issue tax receipts, so through the school is the best way to donate.

Will your efforts for
Africa end at this village?

My goal is not to be some crusader for downtrodden and help to develop the villages of Africa.  I am a musician.  But if I can help then I will.  This is an example of that.  I find it better to stay focused on one thing at a time if possible.  So for now, I’ll focus on this village and project.  My compassionate efforts will never cease, just take different forms.

Has involvement grown and how can people help?

Involvement has not grown that much since the beginning because few people know about it! After the initial push we raised $2000.  The timing was right now, so I decided to do a fundraiser.  Plus, there’s no money left and this needs to get done. Anyone can get involved; just contact me at curtisandrews@gmail.com or 579-1273.