TPGtv Episode 2: Visiting PeaceJam in Accra, Ghana
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In case you missed it, Episode 1 of TPGtv launched last week on The Points Guy YouTube channel. I want to thank each and every one of you for all your support — we’re already up to more than 114,000 views on YouTube and over 846,000 views on Facebook after one week!
The second episode is all about PeaceJam, an incredible organization that educates kids based on the teachings of 13 Nobel Peace Prize winners: The Dalai Lama, Betty Williams, Rigoberta Menchú Tum, Oscar Arias, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Aung San Suu Kyi, Máiread Corrigan Maguire, Adolfo Pérez Esquivel, José Ramos-Horta, Jody Williams, Sir Joseph Rotblat, Shirin Ebadi and Leymah Gbowee. The children spend all year learning about one of the Nobel Peace Prize winners leading up to a jam-packed two-day PeaceJam Conference where they do service work and get a chance to meet that Nobel Laureate.
PeaceJam really gives children a solid outlet to make a difference in the world and become leaders. Kids don’t really get that kind of education in school, which is why I think it’s even more important for this program to have a presence in the developing world. Working with these Nobel Peace Prize Winners, many of whom have come from the developing world and stood up against all odds themselves, is a great way for these children to follow in their steps. It’s so inspirational, to the kids, to the educators and to me. Without further ado, here’s Episode 2.
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For me, PeaceJam is inspiring on so many levels and it’s exciting to be working with an organization that really is all about positive change in the world. The kids get so much out of it. The educators at schools who run PeaceJam volunteer to be a part of it, and the organization’s founders have even been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize.
When I went to Accra, we held a special one-day Peace Slam event to help keep the momentum going — TPG donated $75,000 to the program last year to help continue building the movement on the ground in Ghana, Guatemala, East Timor and South Africa.
Getting into Ghana isn’t the easiest process in the world — for starters, you must have a US passport that’s valid for at least six months after your travel dates and you’ll need a visa to enter, even as a tourist — but it’s still manageable thanks to third-party services like Allied Passport & Visa, the company I used (mention The Points Guy on your order form to get a $5 discount just for TPG readers). Otherwise, the Ghana Embassy says to submit all paperwork — including two copies of visa applications, two passport-sized photos that were taken within the last three months, your actual passport, a copy of your flight itinerary, proof of financial stability or a letter of invitation from your host in Ghana and proof that you’ve recently had Yellow Fever vaccinations — at least two weeks to one month before you go, just to be safe. Additionally, you must mail in non-refundable visa fees (via cashier’s check or money order) of $60 for a single-entry visa or $100 for a multiple-entry visa, like the one I got, just in case you want to go back.
As we highlighted in Episode 1, I flew to Africa in Delta business class by cashing in 90,000 SkyMiles and paying only $5.60. I also used my United MileagePlus miles to fly two PeaceJam staffers from the US to Ghana so they could join us for the event. There really was no budget to get them there otherwise — even economy flights to Ghana can be about $2,000 — so using miles in this way is truly helping this organization. Stay tuned: We are about to launch a big initiative with PeaceJam called Points For Peace, and all TPG readers will be able to get involved.
During my trip, I got the chance to visit schools and spend some time meeting the kids involved in the program. It was amazing to see them so energetic, optimistic and smart despite having everyday access to resources we take for granted here at home.
We were all a little shy at first and started off with ice-breakers to help us get to know each other. We did a fun “Singing In The Rain” game before the kids went to their family groups with mentors, working on community service projects throughout the day. Before long, I was part of the gang, as group after group of kids surrounded me and tried to teach me new dance moves, which usually resulted in all of us laughing so hard we were in tears — being a tall white guy who’s trying to fit in and show off my mean dancing skills isn’t easy!
The young people involved in this program want to make a big difference in their communities and PeaceJam gives them the tools to do just that — the winners at the Ghana PeaceJam Conference this year actually helped to educate the city about cholera and cleanliness, bringing about a stop to the outbreak. Instead of giving up and feeling like they’re just born into this situation and nothing can change, these kids want to make a change and they are, which is so inspiring!
These kids changed my life. The whole time I was there, I just couldn’t stop hugging them and wanting to do everything I could to empower them to be change makers in their communities. With the right help, I wouldn’t be surprised if a lot of these kids end up becoming huge world leaders, and that’s what’s exciting to me.
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