About Us

Africa Heartwood Project is a grassroots nonprofit run by passionate volunteers who are really good at fighting poverty. We act in partnership with the poor to identify and eliminate specific constraints to their freedoms using sustainable, participatory, results-oriented methods. As an all-volunteer organization we don’t ever spend your money on overhead or administrative expenses, so 100% of your donation goes to project implementation. We invite you to join us in this inspired cause, making a measurable and lasting impact in the lives of our many friends in West Africa. Everyone matters. Everyone benefits. Everyone grows. So can YOU!
Timeline for Development of AHP

  • 1999: Inception of AHP during a”humanitarian honeymoon” in Ghana
  • 2001: Social entrepreneurship began with the first imported drums
  • 2005: Full-time dedication to the project, begin planning ofhumanitarian projects
  • 2008: USA 501(c)3 received, NGO registered in Ghana, opened theHeartwood Orphan Home for Liberian refugee children
  • 2009: Completed the first two Village Water Projects in Ghana (17 completed to date)
  • 2010: Register the NGO in Liberia.Vocational training program for deaf students started.
  • 2012: Re-opened the Heartwood Orphan Home in Liberia with repatriated children, youth, and staff from Ghana.
  • 2013: Begin development of the Heartwood Homestead, accept first multi-month volunteers in Liberia
  • 2014-present: Continue the expansion of water projects, orphan support, and sustainable livelihoods for cultural artisans
Our Volunteers
Volunteers are the lifeblood of Africa Heartwood Project. From the beginning it has been volunteers who are passionate about making a difference that have shaped our programs and projects. Without the giving of time, talent, and money Africa Heartwood Project would cease to exist. The largest part “About Us” is YOU, the volunteers who take personally the invitation to become actively involved in creating and implementing projects and fund raisers that directly benefit the poor in West Africa. Please visit our volunteers page to learn more and take the next step to changing lives today.

Learn how to become a Volunteer
See our Projects

Chapter One of “The Story” Behind AHP

The seed that grew into Africa Heartwood Project was planted in the hearts of Andy Jones and Kayla Thompson during their engagement in the fall of 1999. The desire for a “humanitarian honeymoon” landed them in a Liberian refugee camp between Accra and Cape Coast, Ghana. The circumstances at Buduburam were so deplorable that the efforts they made to identify, provide food for, and matriculate in school some orphan refugee children seemed almost insignificant; yet to help in even a very small way required great effort, notwithstanding the support of Andrew Wreh, LDS Charities, and others.

In between efforts over three months at the camp, Andy and Kayla spent time in Koforidua at a Unit School for the Deaf where a friend, Annalisa Jensen, was working with the Peace Corps, in Accra in the company of missionary service couples, and in Peki, Dzake where they became acquantied with a community of drum builders and family of Ghanaian master drummers. While staying with the Lawrence Nkulenu family Andy and Kayla tasted the joy of the Ewe dance and drum culture: building drums by day, singing and dancing by night, and learning from the children and aged throughout. After the Jones’ return to Brigham Young University (BA International Development, Africa Studies Minor – 2002) in the U.S. they received many communications from their new Ghanaian friends, some of which suggested the possibility of having them help sell percussion instruments as a means of providing livlihoods for the drum builders. Andy and Kayla, willing to do what they could to help, started receiving small quantities of drums and selling them for the Ghanaian carvers to music stores, to friends and family, and through the internet, and sending money back to Ghana. Over the next four years this continued on a very small scale with logistical help from Erik Allebest, while Andy completed post-graduate work in England (U. of Sussex – MA Int’l Educational Development (Honors) – 2004) and Kayla gave attention to a growing family and providing natural birth coaching service as a doula.

After completing their education in 2004 and relocating to Salt Lake City, UT, Andy and Kayla decided to dedicate their full-time attention to expand markets and job opportunities for cottage cultural artisans, to see if it could be taken to scale, made sustainable on Ghanaian terms and financially viable in the U.S.. Gratefully, some level of success has been attained in fighting poverty with drums, despite the enormous learning curve and obstacles that have and continue to present themselves in terms of import logistics, purchase contracts and distribution, and human resources. Thanks to that success, since 2008 other needful humanitarian and development projects have been identified, planned, and executed under the official organization of the 501(c)3 Non-Profit / NGO. Andy is involved in the day-to-day operation of the various projects, while continuing to manage the US-side of the social enterprise that supports cultural artisans in West Africa. Kayla, along with their children Simon, Ruby, Charlie, and Ivy, continue to be passionate and involved supporters and active volunteers.