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Elon community helps Ghanaians build a better life

Kelsey Johnson and Emily Regan work diligently in the chill morning air. They carry wrenches, bolts and tins of heavy machine grease across the back parking lot of Arts West to assemble an industrial-sized nut sheller they hope will improve the quality of life in an African village on the other side of the world.

The juniors are part of a class of 32 Elon students who will travel to Ghana this Winter Term to study West African History and Culture with Dr. Brian Digre.

This morning, they’re working with Matt Zettl, father of senior Kathryn Zettl, to build a Universal Nut Sheller as part of the Full Belly Project.

Zettle first learned of the Universal Nut Sheller two years ago when a Fully Belly Project representative made a presentation at his Rotary club. The machine creates an easier and more efficient way for residents in developing countries to shell peanuts, shea nuts, coffee and other nuts used for subsistence and commerce.

“That presentation really stuck with me. Before Kathryn went to Ghana, I asked her to notice if people there grew peanuts and might have a use for the sheller,” he says. “She spent some time shelling peanuts by hand with villagers so this seemed to be a perfect opportunity for a humanitarian project.”

Zettle’s Morehead City Rotary club was enthused about sponsoring the project and after a lunch meeting with Digre, the project moved from hypothetical to reality.

Today’s construction session is just a practice run. When the class travels to Ghana they’ll bring parts and molds to assemble the machine in the village of Sokode, and will leave materials for the villagers to assemble more machines.

“Right now I really don’t know that much about Ghana, which is part of the reason I decided to join this class,” Regan says. “I’m looking forward to teaching those I meet about this machine and I’m sure I’ll take away even more.”
The Universal Nut Sheller helps residents in developing countries shell nuts used for subsistence and commerce.
Katie Reetz,
11/3/2008 8:14 AM