Howard University Alum Brittney Caldwell has a deep love for the history of the African Diaspora as well as education. And now, the Woodbridge, Virginia native has found the perfect way to marry the two by building up and working in schools in Ghana and Kenya.
After a previous Christmas trip to Ghana with her Ghanaian-American boyfriend, Caldwell was instantly drawn to the country. While it may have been her first visit, she knew it certainly wouldn’t be the last.
“I fell in love,” Brittney Caldwell told Travel Noire. “I knew I wanted to go back again, but I wanted my return visits to have more purpose, and not just be for a vacation.”
During her second visit, the 5-year Atlanta Title-1 school educator decided to spend some time visiting schools in Ghana. She went to simply volunteer her time, but quickly noticed the need for even the most basic things like notebooks and paper.
“I was so amazed by the children. The children were so smart, yet they managed to stay engaged with so few resources. The building was so worn down, they would literally get rained on some days.”
Caldwell sprang into action to set up a fundraiser to help renovate the Press On Academy in the town of Gbare in Ghana. She was able to raise a few thousand dollars in a matter of weeks through crowdfunding. The initial funds went toward a new computer lab.
“I know I sort of worked backward by building the computer lab first, but it actually gave me more of a push to be able to do more for the school,” she explained. “I then pitched the idea to other fellow educators and friends that work in various roles. We organized a trip to go back and volunteer in the schools for a longer period.”
It was after the longer visit that Brittney realized coming back home left a certain void. She always felt “depressed” after returning, so rather than continue with just visiting, she sold her home to move there officially.
Brittney and her boyfriend sought the help of local contractors to purchase a piece of land where they will spend the next few years building their new home. Because she still has student loans and general expenses, she needed to also secure a job. The initial plan was to work for an international school near where they purchased the land, but her dream opportunity fell through. So, in the meantime, she took a two-year contract with an international school near Nairobi, Kenya.
“People ask me, ‘well, are you in Ghana or Kenya.’ When I begin applying for positions, I wasn’t able to secure the job I wanted with an international school in Ghana. But after visiting, I also felt at home in Kenya, so I took a position with an international school here. I will travel between Ghana and Kenya over the next two years—which is only a 5-hour trip, and much closer than being in the US— while we go through the building process. This also helps me to stay close to Press On Academy as I continue to support different renovation projects at the school.”
Caldwell’s big goal and plan involves building her own school in Ghana someday.
“Yes, that is the ultimate goal. I want to build an all-girls micro-school where I would accept girls in K-12, and provide them the best education I possibly can. It would be a max of 50 girls. That’s what I’m saving toward, too. But of course you first need the capital.”
Advice for securing jobs and buying land in Ghana and other African countries
As many Black Americans and Black people across the Diaspora seek to relocate to Ghana and other African nations, we asked Brittney Caldwell to share tips and advice from her journey thus far.
“I applied for jobs through searchassociates.com. This website is not just for teachers, but pretty much any role found within a school, from nurses to social workers. You first have to be approved for their database, and from there, they try to match you with the best international schools across the continent and even the world. For me, Kenya just felt good until I land the job I want with international schools in Ghana.”
As for buying land in Ghana, here’s what she shared:
“My boyfriend and I went through a trusted contractor. I can’t stress enough that actually being on the ground, and walking around different neighborhoods first, is key before picking out land. You will also need to do the same due diligence that you would do in the United States or any other country as far as land records and ensuring the land is actually available for purchase and building.”
If you need help finding reputable contractors in Ghana or schools in Ghana, Brittney is more than happy to put you in contact with some. You can keep up with her journey or reach out via her Instagram page: @caldwellsclassroom. Or, follow through her YouTube channel.