“I’m so grateful I had the opportunity to experience the Gold Coast”

A trip to Ghana and the slave dungeons has been at the top of my bucket list all my life. I’m so grateful I had the opportunity to experience the Gold Coast with you and Ekourba as my guide. This trip was truly transformation beyond words. I returned home with a stronger connection to my culture and a burning optimism for a future for my family in Ghana.

Kinisha Campbell


“I really enjoyed the trip”

Dear Auntie Yvette,

Thank you for taking me on a tour of Ghana. I really enjoyed the trip. I loved learning how to make peanut soup, going to see the last bath, and most of all, making new friends. I really liked having a chance to go to the beach and put my feet in the water too. Even though the flight was very long, I even liked being on the airplane.

I learned a lot on this trip. I learned about my ancestors at the slave dungeons. Thanks to this trip, I have many experiences to share with my classmates. I will remember this trip always.

Nia Campbell


“I feel blessed to have accomplished this”

To Yvette and Ekourba,

I want to send a heartfelt thank you for spearheading our trip to Ghana, Africa. The simple fact that you provided an opportunity for groups of people to experience Africa, during the Year of Return, is amazing. For most of my life, getting to Africa seemed distant, particularly due to travel costs and lack of understanding of the landscape upon arrival. Fortunately, the timing worked out perfectly in that I was in a position to afford the trip and your vast experience and connection in Africa made it feasible. My top travel priority in life was to land in Africa at some point and I feel blessed to have accomplished this and have an increased perspective and purpose in my life as a result. I look forward to working with you in the future to drive more postgraduate economic/work opportunity for native Africans and continuing to inspire hope among all of our people.

With Love,

Brandon Westbrook

Founder/CEO – Westbrook & Company

www.brandonwestbrook.com


“I am forever grateful for the opportunity”

Yvette and Ekourba,

My vacations tend to consist of escaping reality through beaches, elegant dinners, and napping in hammocks.

Who knew that the most incredible vacation I’ve had thus far would include mind-blowing realizations about brutality and poverty, nonstop reflection, and tough conversations.  I am forever grateful for the opportunity and am confident that I am a better person because of it.

The things that resonated most with me were the dungeons and last bath.  I think it’s a combination of learning, witnessing, and stepping foot into such a harsh reality and the personal connection I felt to the people, the land, and the history.  Walking through the Door of No Return is indescribable.  What’s interesting is that I didn’t realize that I wasn’t “whole” before taking this trip.  Upon my return, I don’t see how I could have ever truly known myself without going through an experience like this.  I hope that makes sense.

On a lighter note, the Grand Durbar was the most phenomenal cultural celebration I’ve experienced.  I was fully entertained by the performers and the grand entrances of the chiefs, president, and everyone who accompanied them.  I was extremely touched when they called up people from the Diaspora and honored our return.  I didn’t just bear witness to the celebration, I was a part of it.  The whole experience was extremely meaningful.

I also enjoyed meeting the locals, especially the kids.  It was heartbreaking to see so many of them struggling, but their friendliness, playfulness, inquisitive behavior, and intelligence shone brighter than anything that was holding them back.  I especially liked going to the GapBuster school and meeting the students and staff.  What you are doing for that school and the community is phenomenal.  I could not be more proud of who you are and what you are accomplishing.

I was given an opportunity to spend time with my family and get to know them on a deeper level.  I made connections and friendships along the way and look forward to remaining in each other’s lives.  Through the emotional ups and downs of the trip, our group shared love, laughter, and respect the entire time, making each day an adventure that I continued to look forward to.

From the bottom of my heart, thank you.  The time, dedication, and passion that it took to set up a trip like this was evident every step of the way.  You are amazing people and I am blessed to have you in my life.

Sincerely,

Deanna


“African Panafest was an amazing experience”

The trip to Ghana for the Year of Return during the 2019 African Panafest was an amazing experience for our tour group lead by Yvette and Ekourba Yeboah.  It was unique for me to witness my seven family members participate in a meaningful and joyous ceremony honoring their African heritage.  Their faces were full of wonder returning to the Motherland of Africa and learning about their ancestors, culture and history.  We had an opportunity to visit the slave trade British Cape Coast Castle/dungeons and the Portuguese Elmina Castle/dungeons.  It was an eye opening experience to the horrors the slaves had to endure and the extreme cruelty of the slave trade business.  A significant part of the dungeons was the Door of No Return established 400 years ago when the first slave ships left Africa and the slaves never returned.  The opposite side of the door now reads, The Door of Return.  Another event which stood out was the slave’s Last Bath in the river before they were taken to the dungeons.  Watching Yvette sign the manifest of return on the wall was a highlight.

I enjoyed seeing the smiles on my family’s faces when they were greeted by the Ghanaian people throughout the trip, especially by the Chiefs and Mother Queens at the festival.  Everyone was respectful, courteous and extremely nice.  I have a wonderful impression of Ghana and its friendly people. Visiting the markets, the Gapbuster school, Botanical Gardens, walking above the jungles on suspension bridges, learning to do Kente weavings and going to a music festival were additional highlights.  We were comfortable in our tour bus, had nice accommodations and we enjoyed the food at the various restaurants and hotels.  I want to thank Yvette and Ekourba for making this trip a trip of a lifetime.  All your efforts were greatly appreciated and I wish the best for Gapbuster as you bridge the gap to learning and create a bridge between America and Ghana.

Sandy


“The trip to Ghana for me was transformative and amazing”

Yvette and Ekourba,

The trip to Ghana for me was transformative and amazing. Full of rich history, our history as children of the diaspora. Ekourba is a wealth of Ghanaian facts, has a vision for the country and a way forward. Yvette, you made us all feel like part of your family.

Medaase,

Chauser

(Nana Yaa)


“Thank you both for giving me this opportunity”

Cuz and Aconta,

Thank you both for giving me the opportunity to take part in the 2019 Ghana Panafest Celebration and the Year of the Return. Throughout the years I have been fortunate enough to enjoy some outstanding vacations. This one however checked off all of the boxes. It was entertaining, educational, emotional and spiritual. Before I left for Africa, I was able to attend the big Gala in Silver Spring, Maryland celebrating the 19th year of GapBuster, Inc. I was so proud of you, Yvette. Listening to the former member’s testimonials of the GapBuster program and the effect the program has played in their lives was heartfelt. You have been, and continue to be, a conduit to a better life for all of these young people.

Once I set foot on Ghanaian soil I felt like I had come home. Here was a place I could truly learn about the history of my people through the eyes of the African.  I discovered the trials and tribulations the enslaved people endured for centuries, and what the people continue to endure today. Spending time in the dungeons where humans were kept in the dark for weeks and months was unbelievable. It was amazing that there were any survivors. To walk through the “Door of No Return” and look at the massive Atlantic Ocean and have no idea where you were going must have been extremely frightening. The slaves were treated worse than animals for no other reason than having dark skin. They were beaten, raped, and separated from their families and loved ones. They were stripped of their dignity, sold like animals and forcibly removed from your homeland. In many cases they were killed. Some died during revolts, starvation, sickness, diseases and even suicide.

To attend the durbar and meet Chiefs, Queens and observe the Panafest performers was breathtaking. To be called up along with others from the diaspora and have the chiefs paint our arms with African soil and water and welcome us back home with the word “Akwaaba” was truly emotional and heartwarming.  It was a moment that I will never forget. Visiting museums of African leaders (W.E.B. Du Bois, Kwame Nkrumah) and hearing their stories was educational and uplifting. Being greeted and welcomed by students (Ghana’s future) was very emotional for me. How easily that could have been me sitting in their chair welcoming a stranger to my homeland. My prayers go out for each one of them. Meeting my Aconta’s relatives and seeing where Ekourba attended school was quite interesting. Learning about his past and his contributions as a student-activist was extremely interesting. He was America’s John Lewis (SNCC), only in Ghana.

Shopping was quite an experience. I will never forget the marketplace and how difficult and challenging it was, not only picking out materials, etc. but just getting around without losing each other. Finding the perfect Kente cloth and just the right beads was quite a task, but very enjoyable. Haggling over prices with the street people was fun and a challenge. Watching my Aconta work was extremely entertaining. And watching Cuz work, whether it was what we were eating for dinner that evening, finding t-shirts, caps, or getting tickets for the Ghana World Music Festival. You are a miracle worker!.

I will never forget this trip and the wonderful new friends that we met and experiences that we were able to share together. A heartwarming thank you to those relatives who made “The Year of the Return” more than I ever could have imagined.

Medaase!!!

Kwaku Frank


The Year of Return was really an eye opener

Ekourba and Yvette:

I have no regrets in joining the group in Ghana for the 2019 PANAFEST and The Year of Return which was really an eye opener, even though I know the history of slavery, as I am from West Africa, Sierra Leone, to be precise.  The tour was a wonderful experience.  Thanks to you both for organizing such a detailed and interesting tour.  It was a delight to visit the school sponsored by GapBuster.  The students seemed to be appreciative of the tremendous support being given to the school.  It is apparent that with assistance from their dedicated teachers, they will soar to great heights.

I wish the GapBuster Organization every success in its endeavor.

God Bless you!

Emilda Stronge


I am delighted that I embarked on the trip to Ghana

Ekourba and Yvette:

I am delighted that I embarked on the trip to Ghana, and was fortunate to witness the 2019 PANAFEST Celebration, and the Year of Return, depicting part of the history of my ancestors and their ordeal, ending in the freedom we now enjoy.  The trip was memorable, educational, and very enlightening.

Thank you for your insight and vision, and for developing such a marvelous program for us.  You are really a pioneer.

Our group was fantastic.  We had good rapport and that made the trip a pleasant one.  I miss everyone!

Best wishes with your projects, especially GapBuster, and the other tours envisaged.

Fondly,

Eleanor Thompson

August 2019