"After several months as a volunteer at New Life International Orphanage, I thought I had seen just about every joy and trial a West African orphanage could bring—until the day a desperate father arrived. He stood in the dark, narrow hallway of the whitewashed building, clutching the hand of his little girl and holding his toddler son in his arms. He spoke only broken English, so the orphans helped translate his message. His wife had just died, leaving him with the two young children. As a fisherman who spent his days on the sea, he could not properly care for his children, and he had no one to leave them with. We were the third orphanage he had come to asking for help.
“Just small time,” he pleaded as he let go of his daughter’s hand to shift his son to the other arm. She came slowly to me, taking my hand and giving me an impish smile. “I come back when they big.”
The director of the orphanage was nowhere to be found, but I already knew we could not take in any more children—we were already overcrowded. And so, as the only adult there to speak with him, I had to let go of the little girl’s hand and say the hardest word I have ever had to say: no. As I watched him gather his children and trudge slowly up the hill to the road with a look of resignation and discouragement in his eyes, I knew I never wanted to say no to a cry for help ever again.”
Volunteer Program Coordinator, Families for Children International
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Now, updates and pictures from Sankofa! A new bamboo school house has been built-- a larger one to fit all of the classes. Previously, the older classes had to hold class under the trees. We're happy they now have the room they need!
Even with the schoolhouse, studying is hard when sharing a book with 8 other children.
Meet Betty Ampong, a student at Sankofa, wearing her uniform.