Molly here….. Every year it seems as I get ready to head out to Ghana, I have what some may call an unrealistic expectation. That my technologically-challenged self will be able to keep up with the blog while in Africa. I have a hard enough time getting the monthly newsletter out in the comfort of Kristin’s living room with her walking me through each step of the process, so naturally I desire to do it in a country that is “lights out” pretty much every other hour and I have a “To- Do” list that is 3 pages long. Moral of that story… Blogging did NOT happen BUT so much more was accomplished and packed into the last 30 days.
Week One | Set up
On June 16th , myself and three other volunteers arrived in Ghana. June 16th was also the fateful day that the US beat Ghana in the first World Cup match (so naturally we decided to claim Canadian as we walked through the airport). After getting past the ever-enjoyable jet lag and shock of 100% humidity, I dragged the volunteers on what would turn into a 4-hour adventure to order and put down the deposit for the new metal bunk beds. I’m choosing to deem this little adventure as my way of submersing the volunteers into true Ghanaian Culture.
Aside from getting the bed project off the ground, we also began the tutoring project. I was able to work with the teachers of the Good Shepherd School to identify which orphans were at the bottom of their class and the specific areas they were particularly struggling in (the way a child in the states might receive help from a parent or through the school system). Each volunteer was paired up with an orphaned student to work with in the morning and another in the afternoon to work on specific needs. The same students were then transitioned onto the next group of volunteers allowing for each student to receive a month of one on one tutoring.
Week Two | First Aid & A World Cup
During the second week we were lucky enough to be joined by Dr. Marygrace Zetkulic, (as well as her daughter and a friend of her daughter’s.) and Kiryn Trask, a PA, accompanied her husband. Kiryn and Marygrace worked so hard and were able to perform routine physicals for ALL of the children of Good Shepherd. We then all packed up bags of first aid material and donations and accompanied them out into the village of Gada to set-up a first aid clinic and allow for many villagers who would never have the opportunity to be seen and helped by medical professionals.
Kiryn’s husband Jimmy and another volunteer, Jeremy, organized and put together an incredible World Cup bracket and tournament for all the different age groups and kids at the orphanage to participate in. As luck would have it, the US (a team comprised of volunteers) played Ghana in the semi-finals and this time victory was not ours. Aside from their great work on the tournament, Jeremy and Jimmy held nightly small group with the older boys of the orphanage. The guys covered a wide range of topics from budgets, what the bible says about maturity, and their hopes for the future all the way to the opposite end of the spectrum and concluded their time together with good ole’ “birds and the bee’s” talk. It was absolutely fascinating to watch how much the older boys soaked up every second of being poured into by older male role models. As week two came to a close we said goodbye to our first group of volunteers and eagerly awaited group two.
Week Three | Business
Jillian Berres a stylist from Matthew Morris Salon joined us during the third week to focus on the subject of “ what beauty is” for two weeks with the older girls. We joined forces and held small group every evening with the older girls, diving into the same topics and areas as the boys had done the weeks prior with Jeremy. However, we added in a manicure and make up night. You have never experienced sass until you put a little blush, eye shadow and some mascara on girls with a whole LOT of personality.
While the other volunteers continued the tutoring endeavors, I began moving forward with a pretty hefty reintegration/apprenticeship project that GCF has started. The time is fast approaching that more and more of the children that have grown up in the orphanage are becoming young men and women who cannot simply stay at the orphanage due to their age and limited resources. So our task is to successfully equip them with a skill/trade through an apprenticeship that would enable them to obtain a job after training, AS WELL AS, locate possible family members that would be willing to take them in during this time, if we can help eliminate some of the financial burdens that come along with taking on another human being.
Week Four | Thank you
To be honest I could probably go on for hours about the past four weeks spent at Good Shepherd. But one of greatest moments is looking back as you are preparing to go home and tangibly see all that was accomplished and know none of that could have been possible without each and every person that supports Ghana Children's Fund. On top of the countless school sponsorships provided, this summer Ghana Children's Fund...
- Installed new metal bunk beds & new sheets
- Provided EACH child at GSO with a backpack
(filled with vitamins & school supplies)
- Provided each "house" with clothing donations
- Set-up 5 reintegration apprenticeships
- Provided EVERY child with a well child check-up (physical).
- Tutored those who are academically behind
By choosing to support GCF you have given immeasurable hope and joy to the children thousands of miles away in Ofaakor, Ghana.