Bentum is a small rural village in Ghana, about twenty minutes drive from the Good Shepherd Orphanage. I visited there on my very first trip to Ghana in 2007. While volunteering at the Good Shepherd School, my friend and I decided to ride the dilapidated school bus at the end of the day to see where some of the "day students" lived. (The majority of the students were orphans who lived right on the compound with the school, but there were about fifty day students from other villages.) There were five students from the village of Bentum and they wanted us to see their village. Arriving at Bentum was like driving into a picture straight out of National Geographic. It is a collection of roughly 50 thatch-roofed mud huts with children running all around, largely left alone while their parents work in the nearby pineapple plantation. There was no electricity, no plumbing, and the closest water source was about a mile away. The vase majority of the kids in Bentum, I came to learn, had never attended school because their parents could not afford it. The few who attended Good Shepherd were the "lucky ones".
We started sending volunteers out to Bentum to offer "classes" under the shade of a tree for those who couldn't afford school, and they practiced writing letters in the dirt. Later volunteers built benches and bought chalkboards, and struggled to teach English to these children who only spoke Twi. (English is the national language of Ghana.) Two years later, the rains washed out the road to Bentum and the school bus was no longer able to get there, so even the "lucky ones" were out of luck. Around this time a Ghanaian named David Ackah took it upon himself to build a thatch-roofed school in Bentum. The elders gave him the land, and Ghana Children's Fund provided some funding and school supplies to assist him. This school has slowly grown and there are now roughly 80 students. They are not required to pay school fees; only a small amount for their lunch. David Ackah can only afford to pay three teachers, so this year Ghana Children's Fund decided to pay for the salaries of 3 more teachers; they now have one teacher for each grade. We are also providing them with a monthly delivery of food to augment their lunchtime meal since, for many of the children, this is the only
meal they receive each day. In May, we paid for them all to take a field trip to Cape Coast where they could see the historic slave castles and learn about the history of their country. We also continue to donate school supplies whenever we visit, and last year we were able to buy soccer uniforms for their school team (thank you Julie Jones!)
The school now has a couple of concrete classrooms in addition to the thatch-roofed classrooms, and we are committed to helping this school ("God's Vision International School") provide a basic education to the precious children of Bentum. It feels great to have extended our reach to another community, and another group of extremely needy and deserving children! We are so grateful that our donors make it possible for us to bring help and hope to children of Bentum also.