It seems I am destined to love little boys named Michael. I have a little one at each orphanage now, though New Life's Michael is grown to a young man of 14 and doing well in junior high school. Sankofa's little Michael still has many years ahead of him. Please donate to save Sankofa today, and help Michael to be a young man who goes on to get a good education.
Saturday, December 20, 2008
Tuesday, December 9, 2008
Unless Sankofa can build an actual school building, school board officials will shut down the school and the children of Eguafo will have few chances for lifting themselves out of poverty.
Currently, classes at Sankofa are held under rudimentary bamboo roofs that offer little protection from the elements. However, the children are out of the streets and gaining knowledge, the only thing that promises to give them a future. Without Sankofa, most of these children cannot afford to go to the government school nearby, and they will return to spending their days on the streets or working a farm.
Several volunteers are working with an organization called Children’s Helpers Worldwide to raise money to save Sankofa. If you can help me by donating, you can help preserve the future for these children I have come to love. Our goal is to raise $5,000 for the building and materials as soon as we can! Even if you can only part with a few dollars, it can help! If you find you cannot, please help me by letting as many of your friends and contacts know as you can and encouraging them to donate.
To donate using a credit or debit card through PayPal, please go to http://www.chworldwide.org and click Donate. Please indicate that it is for Sankofa. PayPal donations can be securely made even if you don’t have a PayPal account. Information on paying by check is there as well.
If you are an American and wish to donate by check, please send an email to familiesforchildren[at]gmail[dot]com for more information. Because Children’s Helpers Worldwide is a British organization, checks cannot be sent there from the U.S. Unfortunately, this means tax deductions in the U.S. are also unavailable. For more information about Sankofa, please visit www.sankofachildrenshome.org, or view our video and other posts below. Please email any questions to the address above.
Please donate soon to help save Sankofa and provide a future for the children of Eguafo!
Tuesday, December 2, 2008
Playtime for Mother and Daughter, 2005
Saturday, November 29, 2008
Thursday, November 27, 2008
Wednesday, November 26, 2008
No more excuses for gender violence
Paracetamol kills 25 children
One million children get life-saving mosquito nets
Check out these articles for more information. As always, www.allafrica.com has the latest news from across the continent.
Tuesday, November 25, 2008
I had been to Ghana. I had sent three other volunteers to Ghana. I had been working on the advisory board of a non-profit organization for two years. I had minored in African studies and read voraciously anything on Africa, development, and non-profits I could get my hands on. I knew what I was doing, right?
Ready to leave Accra for Cape Coast.
For nearly a year after that, I found out exactly how much I didn't know. From recruiting the volunteers to holding monthly meetings to fundraising to flights to arranging for us to volunteer in a brand new orphanage I'd never been to...it was insane. There was so much stress involved in arranging for 14 people to travel to and volunteer in a foreign country, much that I hadn't anticipated. Luckily, I had a lot of help from my dear hubby, as well as Jessica, a girl I'd previously sent to Ghana who agreed to be the coordinator for one of the groups.
Hanging with the monkeys at Boabeng Fiema Monkey Forest.
I had been to Ghana, yes. But I had been alone. I was all I had to worry about until I got over myself and started worrying for and loving the New Life kids more. This time, it was different. I was mama duck to five little ducklings who were in a whole new world. Yes, they'd had training, but nothing prepares you for the real thing. The weight of responsibility was incredible, especially considering we were hosted in three separate locations. We were in a third world country, and I had taken responsibility for their well-being, health, and to see that we accomplished our volunteering goals. Were they getting enough water? Did they know the way to the bank? Did they know how to catch a taxi and then go back home? Were they getting overwhelmed with culture shock and homesickness? Were they getting overwhelmed with the responsibilities of teaching? Did they feel like they were doing enough work, or had too much? I was constantly focused on making sure they were taken care of, and it was so much more taxing than I ever would have thought.
Saying goodbye to Green Turtle Lodge.
And yet, they were wonderful. They were responsible. They all quickly rose to the occasion, worked with the slight chaos and unstability that is a third world country, and came out on top. They learned to take taxis on their own. They learned their way around town. I eventually felt comfortable enough to take every other day to go to New Life, trusting that they knew what they were doing. Even then, though, I was constantly focused on making sure they were doing okay. I had carefully planned how I wanted things to go in Ghana before I left-- the things I wanted to get done while there. Almost none of it happened. Yet, in the end, that was okay.
Teaching them how to read.
Because we still got great work done. A few kids learned their ABC's. Some learned that letters have sounds. Still others learned that sounds could be pieced together to make words. And six people who left the USA as practically strangers returned as friends, teachers, and people changed for the better. In some ways, it was so much harder than my first trip, yet I am so grateful I had the chance to lead those people out there, and to learn a bit more myself.Last day at Sankofa with David and a few of the teachers and kids.
Saturday, October 11, 2008
Tuesday, October 7, 2008
Of course, things never work out the way you think they well-- especially in Ghana. It wasn't until my last day at New Life I actually managed to find time to pull out the books, bring in the batteries, and dig up the keyboard. I knew there wasn't much time, but maybe, I thought, I can at least teach them enough that they can use the books to teach themselves.
And that wasn't all. As I began to teach them which keys were which note, she began to zip through the songs that labeled each note. She wasn't actually reading the music, but she was able to read the labeled notes and remember exactly which ones were which on the keyboard. And she kept perfect time. Belinda and Ophelia did pretty good too, but whenever they got the timing or note wrong, Elizabeth immediately corrected them. I was astounded. She was a natural.
We played through some more songs, and I let them look at the part that began to explain the actual reading of music. Elizabeth was fascinated, and delighted with herself for being good at something naturally. We weren't able to get far, but far enough that Elizabeth at least would be able to follow the simple instructions in the book to continue learning. I don't know if she will, or if the others will either. There are many things they need to do with their time, but I hope Elizabeth and any others who desire are able to keep learning. If any volunteers go back who know how to play, see if you can pull out that keyboard, pull up the piano books I left, and give it a go!
Thursday, October 2, 2008
Saturday, August 9, 2008
Monday, August 4, 2008
In addition to RME, the students start and end each day with Assembly. They line up in their classes, say the Lord's Prayer, sing a song that is usually religious in nature, say the Pledge, and then march while singing to their classes. Closing assembly is much the same.
Danny and Patrick join the kids at Sankofa for Worship.
Thursday, July 31, 2008
We'd also like to announce a revised website and a new Yahoo group for Lucky Hill! Many parents are now starting to adopt from Lucky Hill. We're happy for them as well!
Saturday, July 12, 2008
I have no words for this picture; it speaks on its own. Larabanga, 2005.
This young man is emblematic of the throngs of people hawking their goods on the streets of Ghana. They are at the tro tro stations; the toll booths; the bus stops; they are everywhere they can possibly make a profit. Some are mere children, desperate to take home a few pesewas (pennies) for school fees, clothing, and food. Cape Coast, 2005.
Son of Weavers
Kente cloth is the beautiful, hand-woven fabric made throughout Ghana. Traditionally worn by chiefs, the fabric is woven in scarf-like strips that are then sewn together to make clothing. The weaving of the cloth is an intricate and complicated process. 2005.
Along the coast of Ghana, fishing is an enormous part of the economy. Everyday, fisherman go out in their small boats, often using only sails, oars, and teamwork to cast their nets. These young men are hauling in a net full of fish. If only the still image could capture the harmony of the rhythmic chanting that helps them stay in sync. Cape Coast 2005
Traditional dance is yet another important part of Ghanaian heritage. Belinda at New Life is only one of the many children taught this beautiful part of their culture. 2005.
For many in Ghana, an education is something of which they can only dream. Madam Grace, former caregiver and headmistress of New Life, gave every part of herself to teach and care for the children there. 2005.
The markets in Ghana are throbbing centers of commerce. It is primarily women who work here, selling everything from fish to snails to fabric. These women work hard to provide for themselves and their families. Kejetia Market, Kumasi, 2005.
Daughters of Royalty
In Ghana, villages and cities are still headed in part by chiefs. However, the chief has a counterpart in Ghana that many don't know about-- the Queen Mother. She is not always the chief's mother, or even a relative, but she is there to help provide council and direction along with the chief. These women are dressed as a Queen Mother would be at a festival or celebration. Shama 2005.
Daughter of God
Religion is an incredible force in Ghana. Whether Christian, Muslim, Traditionalist, or other, Ghanaians are devout in their faith. At Christian schools, such as Sankofa, the children say the Lord's Prayer each morning and afternoon. Eguafo 2008.
Thursday, July 3, 2008
Three years, later, I was astounded as I walked down the hill to see the changes that had taken place. I had seen pictures since I left, but nothing can change your own mental image of a place except seeing it again in person. The school building is now complete, meaning there's more sleeping room in the home, there are mosquito nets for all the children, a store to earn money, an enormous farm, a playground, a dining area, a kitchen, toilets, and a new home being built so the children have more room to live and play. The buildings were painted pink and brown, and flowers housed in pots made of tires decorated the land in front of the home.
Of course, it was the children I really wanted to see. Danny and I had come late into the afternoon, and for a moment it seemed no one was around. Then Emmanuel came out of the house. My throat tightened as I hugged him for the first time in three years, and we both laughed. He told me all the older ones were working on the farm, behind the new house, and he would take me there. Then Ophelia came dashing out, her beautiful face glowing with a smile I remembered well. More laughing, hugging, crying, talking. She was taller.
The little ones came around as we headed to the farm, swarming me. With a start, I recognized one of the taller, chatty boys. "Benjie!" I cried. He grinned up at me, but I knew he didn't remember me. Though I taught him for four months, he had been only two and a half at the time. I hugged him anyway. There were many clustered around him that I didn't recognize-- new faces since three years ago. One girl, seven years old and small for her age, like they all were, giggled as the little ones started chanting my name: "Shallee, Shallee..." They pronounced it "Shelly," like always, and I had to smile as they dragged her over. "Shallee, Shallee!" they cried, pointing at her. Her name was Shallee, or "Shelly" too. Still giggly, but shy, she pulled away to the back of the crowd.
That day remains now in my memory as very sweet-- yet also a little bitter. For three years, I had held these children in my heart and called them mine. I held fiercely to the idea that they were my children. Coming back, I realized the truth. I love them, as many volunteers since my time have loved them. They have grown, and changed, and though I still love them and some of them still remember and perhaps love me, they are not mine. They belong not to me, but to each other and to their full-time caregivers. That is their family. That is their life. I came for a short time only, and though I have shared my heart and my hands, that did not make them as wholly mine as I had so long thought. My heart had to break a little that day in order to open up and let "my children" go. That was the bitterness. The sweetness was feeling the love I still hold for them, and being able to physically hold them in my arms again.
Sunday, June 29, 2008
The school is for kids from preschool to third grade-- preschool and kindergarten kids have school in a rented church, the others in a bamboo schoolhouse built by the director and teachers. Many of the kids still have a rough time in school, since they may not have attended school previously. The age ranges in the classes are a lot wider than they are in the US (i.e. 8-12 year olds in third grade). We were able to work out a system with the teachers where we took the children struggling in English and taught them phonics and basic English each day during their English periods. We were also able to buy some great new English books that the Ghana Education Department has put out. It was so incredible to see how the kids progressed. Some started to grasp the concept that each letter actually has certain sounds associated with it. Some of them went from not being able to read at all to being able to sound out words. And some, of course, didn't seem to make much improvement at all...but I suppose that's how it goes.
Sankofa is really an incredible place. David, the director, is only in his 20's, and is amazing! He lived on the streets a lot as a kid, and though he did attend school, he paid little attention. He finished the ninth grade at age 18 being unable to read and write. When he realized how much this could affect his life, he did the incredible-- he went back to the fifth grade at age 18, and went back through the ninth grade again. He now speaks, reads, and writes English very well. His desire was to ensure that other children would have this opportunity, and that is when Sankofa began. The teachers who work there are just as amazing-- they live on a salary of $20 a month and some walk miles to be there everyday to offer free education to impoverished children. Shallee and her husband Danny with David.
We had such an amazing time there, and felt so privileged to meet the children and the incredible people who run Sankofa.
McKenzie, one of our volunteers, playing a game with Monica (in the green) and another child.
Friday, June 27, 2008
Shallee playing on the new playground with the kids at New Life.
Tuesday, June 17, 2008
The teachers at Sankofa are truly wonderful. They give up so much of their own time for very little pay to help these children who would otherwise have no education at all. Though they learn under a bamboo roof with a dirt floor, the key is that they are learning.
New Life has grown in leaps and bounds since my last trip three years ago! The new building is nearly complete, and a new classroom is being built for the nursery children. At the moment, nursery, KG (kindergarten) 1, and KG 2, and class 1 are all in the same classroom-- this is obviously chaotic. There is not enough room for the children to properly learn, and there is far too much noise. The new classroom is going up quickly, however! It's a joy to watch the children play on the playground and to see the progression of those who are now three years ahead of when I last taught them.
We will be coming home in a week, and what a trip it has been! Pictures and video will be up when I get some time after coming home, and I'll post snippets and stories about the children and volunteers as well!
Wednesday, June 4, 2008
Yesterday, we went out to Eguafo to meet David, Sankofa's director. We waited for him for a while, and played with some of the children. Today was the start of our project. We were able to observe the teachers for classes 1, 2, and 3 and spoke with another volunteer named Sara who has been arranging for assessments to be given to the children. Our volunteers will take the slower learners and help them get up to speed as much as possible while we're here. Tomorrow we will help paint the orphanage while the assessments are given. The children are adorable, as all Ghanaian children are. As we get to know them we will post more about them.
We have not made it to New Life yet, but hope to do that tomorrow! I will update when I can, though internet is very slow here in Ghana. Even so, it's great to be here!
Saturday, May 24, 2008
Most of the girls are at Sankofa. They have been helping build an addition to the bamboo school house, as well as helping teach the children. There have done rotations with the 80 children in the nursery class, as well as doing arts and crafts and some PE games with the older children. Classes 1, 2, and 3 had no books, and so were difficult to teach. After the volunteers provided them with books, they were able to do a great deal more teaching with the older kids!
Some of the children at Sankofa
Not much news from New Life yet, though word is they have gotten two new children in the last week.
We are so grateful for these volunteers and all they are doing! We wish them a safe journey home, and wish our June group a safe and successful trip as they prepare to leave!
Saturday, May 10, 2008
Story 2: Reports of Widespread Violence in Zimbabwe-- As Mugabe desperately attempts to maintain his rule, intimidation violence spreads.
Story 3: Southern Africa Urges Small-Scale Farming-- To help combat rising food costs around the globe, small-scale farming has been recommended. (Anyone but me thinking Square Foot Gardening?)
Story 4: A Fresh Approach to Street Children-- A look into what Burkina Faso is doing for her children on the streets
The girls will be at Sankofa on Monday to begin teaching. Jessica will be at New Life, teaching and giving the square foot gardening a boost! More information will be coming soon as the girls begin their volunteering. We wish them all the best of luck!
Sunday, April 27, 2008
I became a common fixture there as well, a part of the pulsing mobs. After taking a taxi from my house to town, I “dropped” at Kotokuraba and found whoever was proclaiming “Jukwa!” that day. I always took a moment to buy “pure water” from one of the ladies or girls. Though it came in a plastic sachet like “ice water,” pure water was purified, its bag carefully sealed in a bloated square, and stamped with blue ink. I stuffed a few in my dirtier-by-the-day backpack and climbed aboard the tro tro. Somewhere between two and thirty minutes later, the tro pulled out—they only left when they were full. The ride took me through Cape Coast and into the suburb of Adisadel, then past Pedu Junction and to Abura, the suburb where my host’s sister, Mama Joyce, lived. After Abura came scattered jungle, a secluded hotel on a small crocodile pond called Hans Cottage, past the barren earth where women crushed rocks under small thatched shelters, and on to the tiny hamlet of Ansapatu—just short of the larger village of Efutu.
I called to the mate, the young boy who took passenger’s money, and the tro tro stopped. People in the aisle seats stood to fold their seats up and step out so I could crouch past, then piled back in again and headed on up to the town of Jukwa. I turned to Ansapatu, which consisted of a few small houses, a tiny shop, a school, and New Life International Orphanage. Smiling and waving at the women who sat among the enormous pile of greenish-yellow oranges they were selling, I headed down the red dirt hill, anxious to get to my children.
The orphanage was across the little lane from the orange and brown government junior secondary school (JSS), set nearly at the edge of the rainforest. It was painted a bland white with blue trim, and an unfinished three-room schoolhouse hunched next to it. A small orange tree stood near the front gate to the left, a palm tree further down. The refuse pile and laundry lines sat away from the school, near the large, overgrown area referred to as the garden. The cement basins where the children bathed were farther away, near the bushes where the “bathroom” was—a large pit crossed with wooden beams. A rickety wooden fence made a pitiful attempt to keep the goats out of the garden, and a painted sign declared it to be “New Life International Orphanage Home/School for orphaned, abandoned, and needy children.”"
Saturday, April 12, 2008
The first story is a rather uplifting one about Child's Rights International setting up schools that encourage not only learning, but establish a platform for children to express their own views.
The next story discusses the progress (really, it is some progress!) in the Kenyan government.
This one is also from Kenya, discussing an outreach program for street children.
The last story focuses on children in Zimbabwe who are receiving free surgery to correct cleft lips and palates.
What with Zimbabwe's and Cameroon's failing democratic situations, Joseph Kony's failure to sign the peace deal in Uganda, and the general disheartening stories often found in African news, I decided to focus on some more positive stories today. If you want the rest, check out www.allafrica.com.
Thursday, March 27, 2008
Tuesday, March 11, 2008
In addition, I'd like to wish a belated Happy Independence Day to Ghana! March 6th was Ghana's 51st independence day, and to celebrate, the volunteers heading over this summer had a little party. Just a little fried plantain, Fanta, high life music, and a prep for Ghanaian culture, but it was fun!
We also have heard from one of our contacts that we will (most likely) be receiving a donation of 200 children's literacy books! This is very exciting for us-- we are building a school, after all!
I'll post more once the directors return on the developments-- and it's past time for another IAAC post. It's a busy time around here, but I'll get to it!