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About Us

Africa Heartwood Project is a grassroots non-profit seeking to redress causes and symptoms of poverty in West Africa. We act in partnership with selected beneficiaries to identify and eliminate specific constraints to their freedoms using sustainable, participatory, results-oriented methods. We are an all-volunteer organization with no overhead, funded primarily by individual and community donations. We invite you to join us in this inspired cause, making a measurable and lasting impact in the lives of our many friends in Africa. Every one matters. Every one benefits. Every one grows. So can YOU!

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.

Timeline for Development of AHP

  • 1999: Unofficially started the "work" of AHP in Ghana
  • 2001: Social entrepreneurship began with the first imported drums
  • 2005: Full-time dedication to the project, begin planning of non-drum humanitarian work
  • 2008: Africa Heartwood Project, Inc. officially organized (USA 501(c)3, 2008), NGO Registered in Ghana 2008. Begin implementation of various projects with donated funds.
  • 2010: Register the NGO in Liberia. Begin work on relocating the Orphan Home to Liberia
  • 2012: Open the Heartwood Orphan Home in Liberia with repatriated children and youth from Ghana.
  • 2013: Begin development of the Heartwood Homestead

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.

PHOTOS FROM THE JONES' FIRST TRIP TO GHANA, 1999

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.

Follow this link to hear a podcast interview with Andy as he speaks about how Africa Heartwood Project came to be. Interview courtesy of ExperienceDrums.com's Community Saints Radio program.


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Africa Heartwood Project would like to thank Google and the Google Grant Program for its donation of over $150,000 in services.  We are grateful for this substantial donation and the continued support from the Google Non-Profit Program!

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Support AHP Just By Searching the Web!
Posted on 12/5/2010

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Raise money for charity Africa Heartwood Project in SLC, UT just by searching the web and shopping online!

Latest News
See all news postings here.

AHP's Front Page Story
Posted on 11.11.14
The Salt Lake Tribune did a cover story about our origins, and work in West Africa. Read the story, and see photos & video interview online.

Change the World Launch
Posted on 11.10.14
Children are donating funds for Village Water Projects in Liberia by collecting spare change. Learn about our Change the World campaign.

Dancers Help Orphans
Posted on 9.17.14
Student dancers at Creative Arts Academy in Utah host a benefit to help build the Heartwood Homestead. Join the African cultural celebration Nov. 15, 2014.

Ebola and AHP in Liberia
Posted on 8.1.14
The Ebola virus is contracted by direct contact with an infected person. Our staff and children are taking precautions to remain healthy during this outbreak. Learn more from the CDC.

3 Orphans Graduate
Posted on 7.11.14
Diana, Prince, and Arikton are the first high school graduates from the Orphan Home. Congrats students, volunteers, and donors! Photos here.

5 More Villages Get Water
Posted on 6.2.14
Nyamah, Bombor, Kalimu, TahnTown, and Beablah villages received water this dry season. Hundreds of Liberians are healthier because of Plant Therapy.

QueerSpirit's Latest Well
Posted on 5.28.14
Queer Spirit Water Project was wrapped up May 28, 2014, with the hand dug well installation in Norbor, Liberia. See photos here.

ABC4 News Story Live
Posted on 2.4.14
4 News Utah invited Andy Jones to interview on live news about the Heartwood Homestead and the Project 13 campaign. Watch it here.

New Videos & Photos from Liberia Posted
Posted on 1.27.14
Amazing new photos and videos of our projects in Liberia are online at our Youtube channel and PicasaWeb albums.

Sanitation Station Begun
Posted on 1.26.14
The Heartwood Homestead's first Sanitation Station is being built. Learn about our fully sustainable off-grid waste and grey water management model here.

PlantTherapy for Water
Posted on 1.26.14
Chris Jones, owner of PlantTherapy.com visits the Village Water Projects his company is sponsoring. New videos and photos posted here.

Growing Food for Orphans
Posted on 1.26.14
The Sustainable Food Program at the Heartwood Orphan Home is bearing fruit with cassava, fish, greens, pineapple, and palm production.

Project 13 Campaign Launched Christmas Eve
Posted on 12.24.13
1,300 everyday humanitarians giving $13.13 for 13 months to complete the Heartwood Orphan Homestead. Make a pledge today!

Drum Store Goes Live
Posted on 11.29.13
Browse authentic instruments made by our cultural artisans network under percussion brand name Africa Heartwood Project.