Thursday, April 22, 2010
Tuesday, April 6, 2010
Wednesday, October 21, 2009
Tuesday, September 1, 2009
Everyone woke up pretty jet-lagged on Sunday morning. Depending on where the volunteers live, the time change ranged from four to seven hours. After breakfast, most people attended a church service on the grounds. The children sang a variety of hymns, harmonizing perfectly. We basked in the peacefulness of the morning sunshine, and looked forward to a day of spending time with the children.
The rest of the afternoon was spent reconnecting with the kids. Touch A Life children like Richard, Mark, Famous, and Gabriel. One volunteer brought bubbles, which were definitely a hit. The kids loved running around the lawn, chasing each other and taking turns blowing bubbles.
The majority of the volunteer team spent the last remaining hours of the afternoon soaking up the sun on the beach. The coast is located about one mile from the Village of Hope, and the group trekked through Gomoa-Fetteh on the way to the water. The local townspeople waved and yelled at us as we walked, shrieking "Abroni!" (the Ghanaian word for "white man") as we passed. We were struck by the state of the community; most people lived in mud huts with thatched roofs, didn't have electricity, and had goats and chickens constantly running through their homes. The people's dispositions, though, were not based on their circumstances; rather, they were clearly content with and blessed by their lives. It was certainly an important trip for most of us to witness, as it served to remind us of the lives we lead and of our responsibility to give back to others.
Last week, Pam and I returned from an incredible two-week trip to Ghana. Though we were exhausted and jet-lagged, we were simultaneously rejuvenated by our visit. The children in our programs are flourishing and the Ghanaian staff members are making great strides in growing our child development centers. We were overwhelmed by the love, grace, and hospitality we received from our Ghanaian staff counterparts while abroad, and, as always, we were floored by the resilience of the children who are loving living their lives off of Lake Volta.
We arrived in Ghana on Saturday, August 8, with 38 other American volunteers. The intent of the week was to participate in an art, music, and dance camp sponsored by the Children's Art Village. Included in the group were Pam's children, Van Cope, Tatum Cope, and Crista Cope Austin; Pam's son-in-law, Zach Austin; my mother, Beth Johnson; Touch A Life supporters Jennifer Hackmann, Jason Hackmann, Eric Cope, and Chris Field; and members from our partner organization, One is Greater Than None, Sharon Genden, Chelsea Genden, and Tyler Genden.
After being picked up at the Accra International Airport, the group headed to the Village of Hope Orphanage in Gomoa-Fetteh, a rural area in southern Ghana. The orphanage is mainly supported by a church in Memphis, TN, and is funded by donations from both the United States and from Ghana. There are 21 Touch A Life children living at the orphanage.
The children were so excited to greet their new visitors. They were swarming around us as we unloaded our vans. We were warmly welcomed by the house parents and other Village of Hope staff members, and we excitedly unpacked our belongings in the guest houses before heading out to the lawn to relax with the kids. Children like Mark (the first boy rescued by Touch A Life), Hagar (Mark's sister), and Kofi (Mark's brother) continually showered us with love as they gave us hugs, encouraged us to play soccer, and held our hands. After eating dinner together, everyone made their way to bed. Exhausted and overwhelmed, we fell into a dreamless sleep, excited for the possibilities of the week ahead.
Hello from the Village of Hope Orphanage! Pam and I are resting after an incredible and busy week at the Children's Art Village here in Gomoa-Fetteh. The kids made some fantastic artwork, learned some new dances and musical routines, and basically just had a great time running around and playing together. All of our children from our three programs in Ghana (Village of Hope in Gomoa-Fetteh, City of Refuge in Tema, and Village of Life in Kete-Krachi) were united at the camp, and it was so much fun to watch them interact and bond.
During the week, Touch A Life volunteers Eric Cope, Chris Field, and Jason Hackmann joined George Achibra and his rescue team to save three sweet boys from Lake Volta. They are adjusting very well; two of them even joined the rest at the art camp. Pam and I are heading to Kete-Krachi tomorrow. We are hoping to rescue 10 children off of the lake during the next week.
As always, your prayers and encouragement are so greatly appreciated. More updates and photos will come when we return from Ghana on August 22nd.