Working with local leaders in a rural village in Ghana, Stoughton High School 2015 graduate Lukas Matthews is near completion on a summer long community project to create growth there.

The project has three objectives in a rural, off the grid community near Sunyani, Ghana. First, a youth empowerment and mentorship campaign, then rebuilding a kindergarten school and finally providing of $1,000 worth of new school books.

Matthews secured $10,000 worth of funding through the national grant, “Davis Project for Peace.” In nearby Mponwaakrom, he worked closely with local leaders to find out how the community thought the money could best be used.

Matthews spent one semester in Ghana while attending Macalester College in St. Paul Minnesota, and said he feels “socially connected” there.

“I acclimated faster to the social networking there than I did in St. Paul,” he said.

The initial youth empowerment and mentorship campaign finished at the beginning of this month, with several college-age volunteers from the US and Ghana conducting presentations on “areas of social tension in the community” for roughly 40 Ghanian students.

“Youth are willing to go out of their community and take leaps – then bring (what they learn) back to their community,” Matthews said.

The focus areas of the presentation were on health, such as teen pregnancy and dehydration and also farming, as it is the main revenue source for the community. There were even presentations on new technology and on farming options outside the community, after Matthews secured a projection machine.

“Images were particularly powerful in the presentations,” he said.

The second objective was redoing the kindergarten building. The age of the building is unknown and heavy rains have slowly eaten away at its foundation, which will eventually collapse the walls.

The new building is about 50 percent complete, with Matthews’ main contribution being painting, he said.

The last phase of the project is to deliver $1,000 worth of school books to the junior high school, including math, social science, technology and fiction books.

Matthews will return to the U.S. and start working at Epic in September. He hopes the presentations will continue after he leaves but he is happy he worked closely with the community to find out their needs.

“Whats makes this project useful is it’s what the community actually wanted,” Matthews said.

Contact Mackenzie at mackenzie.krumme@wcinet.com.