Press and Participants' comments
(excerpts below, click on a link for the entire article)
I want to thank everyone who has shown an interest in Aba Tours and who have helped us to get our message out there. In a world of increasing competition it is not always easy to distinguish ourselves from other tours, but thanks to letters from tour participants and insightful articles by the press, we think that our uniqueness is understood. For myself and all the people in Ghana without whom Aba Tours would not exist - I say Medawoase.
- Aba

The Educated Traveler
, Vol. 6 Issue 7, Nov. '96.
Travels designed with your special interests in mind.

If you want a more personal way than on-safari to experience Africa, artist Ellie Schimelman may have just what you're looking for in Ghana. --- more

RISD Views, May/June 1995 Vol. 7, n. 4

"The arts offer excellent tools with which to deconstruct stereotypes," says Ellie Schimelman '60, a potter in Brookline, MA, who has a strong affinity for African culture. "Each of us must try in our own way to change any misconceptions we may hold about people of other cultures and to learn to celebrate their offerings." --- more

The Boston Sunday Globe, September 29, 1996.
A Brookline potter finds Ghana a source of inspiration.

BROOKLINE - When you walk into Ellie Schimelman's living room, don't expect to find a sweet matching sofa and love-seat or a nature painting over the fireplace. And you shouldn't expect anything so commonplace anywhere else in her house, either. Not at Schimelman's. There, you'll be greeted by an enormous, fully open, African chiefs umbrella made with bright blue, orange, yellow, red, and green kente cloth. --- more

Air Travel Journal - Sept. 1996, vol 24, no. 16
New England home to growth of ecotourism companies.

[...] Ellie Schimelman of ABA Tours in Brookline, MA has taken three tour groups to Ghana in Africa in the past year and a half to learn about pottery, basket weaving, bead work and the local culture. On her trips, travelers stay in local villages; sometimes in native's homes and sometimes in extra huts or buildings throughout the village. Schimelman, a former arts and crafts teacher, says she started ABA Tours to share her enthusiasm for Ghana with others. --- more

The Boston Globe - Oct. 2003

Two teachers traveled to Ghana with Aba Tours in July 2003 to learn about Ghana during the slave trade and as life is there today. They will be developing curriculum for their classrooms to teach about Africa.  --- link to article on Boston Globe site

Former participants' comments
Susanna Williams and Halley Allen

When we decided to write a third grade curriculum about Ghana, we knew that we needed to go to Ghana ourselves in order to help young elementary school children in the United States really understand what Ghana is about. Aba Tours was incredibly flexible in helping us meet people, visit places, and experience Ghana in a way that made the most of our limited time. We visited schools, talked with teachers, met with students, and visited universities. As independent school teachers, we were interested in visiting both government funded and private schools. Aba made that possible.

As first time visitors to the African continent, it was reassuring to know that Aba was taking care of the arrangements. There was always someone with us to help us learn to negotiate Ghanaian life. We always felt safe and taken care of. When we felt confident enough to go out on our own, however, we had the freedom to do that, as well.

One of the things that meant the most to us was the incredible access we had to everyday Ghanaian people. For nearly three weeks, we were embraced into the community around Aba House. We had the opportunity to get to know people and make friends. At the same time, Aba House provided a space to process our Ghanaian experiences with other non-Ghanaians. The perspective offered by all of our conversations was invaluable not only to our ability to bring Ghana to our students, but also to our own understanding. Our time in Ghana was life-changing for each of us.

Everyone associated with Aba Tours went out of their way to make sure that we had a positive experience in Ghana. When you go to Ghana with Aba Tours, you are becoming part of a global family. You are signing on for a personal, challenging journey. You will be changed. We could not have asked for a better partner to help us get to know Ghana.

Becca Rawlings:

I am a twenty year old gap year student, between college and university. I had neither traveled anywhere abroad alone or been to Africa before. I was looking to travel but to do something that would be useful to me and relative to my degree in textile design. I was looking for a tour company so I did not feel like I was doing it all on my own. When I found Aba Tours it just jumped out at me that that was what I wanted to do.

I wrote to Ellie enquiring about staying with a Kente weaver, traveling from the UK and was quite specific about my traveling dates. I was delighted when she replied "I can arrange anything you want to do Rebecca". She suggested a tailor made trip for me which I took. 
--- more

E. Gail Magin

I first met Ellie when I took a pottery class in her home. As I kneaded clay, I looked at the Kente cloth adorning her walls, the African sculptures on her shelves, the ceremonial umbrella in her living room - and got my first introduction to Ghana. Many years later I had the opportunity to go on one of Ellie's trips to Ghana. It was a trip that took me into small villages, African homes, crafts markets, and large cities. At each stop Ellie's Ghanaian friends greeted us with warmth and enthusiasm, anxious to teach us about their culture and to have us join in their daily activities.
Had it not been for Aba Tours, I would never have had such a personal and in-depth look at Ghana. The small size of our travel group was ideal and the tour plan was flexible enough to allows us to take unscheduled side trips or to make changes in the planned itinerary according to the interests of the group - and at no additional cost. If you are looking for a tour that will allow you to experience Ghana on a personal level and that will be led by a guide who is trustworthy and has over 20 years experience traveling in Ghana, Aba Tours should be your choice.

Marcella Stasa:

Ellie's trips to Ghana don't lead to resort hotels. Don't expect air conditioned buses and professional tour guides. The tour guides Ellie will introduce you to are the average people living in cities and villages. You will meet students, artisans, professionals and homemakers, some may not speak English but an understanding develops none the less. All will strike you as interesting people making their way in a developing country. As a foreigner you can expect to be asked questions about your lifestyle, culture and job, opening things up for a real education and cultural exchange. You really get to see the Africa of the Africans. The beauty and, yes, even the frustration. You will get used to "African time" where things happen in due course. Be prepared to eat roasted plantains or groundnuts from a street vendor, move with the crowds at an outdoor market, discuss with a seamstress how she will sew you an outfit, become part of a funeral procession, bargain with a bead dealer or a taxi driver and meet and work with some of the many artists who create the kente cloth, wood carvings, beads and other handicrafts Ghana is known for. Ellie makes the introduction and it is then up to you to run with it and explore.

Carolyn MacPhee:

Thank you so much for the wonderful trip to West Africa. The unusual and rewarding journey holds warm memories. As you know this was my first trip to Africa. The beginning of many. It is very special to travel with someone who understands the culture and has the numerous contacts. I look forward to more travel with Aba Tours and support your love and awareness of Ghana.

Rose Streatfield - London, England:

What can I say about Aba Tours. It certainly was an experience I'll never forget and I desperately want to go on another. I liked the no- frills approach, traveling like a local, meeting the people and simply going with the flow.

John Derraugh:

I am now slowly adjusting to the European reality and wondering just how three weeks can go by so quickly. It had long been my ambition to visit Ghana again to see if my fragmented childhood memories correspond in any way to the present day reality in the country and I am really glad that I finally made the trip. Many individual memories or ideas were confirmed and even more interesting were the visits to places where I knew I had lived when very young but of which I had obviously no recollection at all and the gaining of a coherent, overall impression of normal life in the towns and countryside.This was made possible by the low key nature of the Abatour in that we travelled around as if normal residents and not as an air-conditioned bus tour for which everything is planned to comply with European ideas of comfort. Everywhere we went from the south to the north I had the chance to meet people, such as those in Ho and Dzodze, relaxed in their own environment, to sample the local food in restaurants which I would never have found alone and simply to experience life as it is lived there. This reflects the real depth of the knowledge and insight of Abatours and the resourcefulness of the guides and their pride and delight in presenting their country. Without them I would have only a fraction of the experiences which I brought back. A good sign indeed for the "Aba House" near Accra when it is finished.Thank you Aba, Chuku, Talk True and all others we met and with whom we shared a meal or a drink and who knows, it may have been for me just the first of many visits.