Our journey began on July 26th. Amy Clark and her two sons, Robbie & Mitch and Blodge from the Yukon all met in New York to start our adventure to Ghana.
As we drove up the driveway, we were welcomed by 100 or so children, teachers, village people, Mr. Sam and Sarah all screaming and jumping up and down and yelling, “Mama J! Mama J!! We missed you!” They hugged the new friends they were meeting for the first time and welcomed them. Then the drums started and everyone danced and marched into the orphanage area. The music and dancing went on for more than an hour. Amy, Mama Sarah & I were all crying. My heart cracked wide open. And so it begins…
The next day, tents were set up. All the school children came marching over to the orphanage where they had also set up chairs for the kids, teachers and any parents that wanted to attend. It lasted 2 – 3 hours. The kids read poems, sang songs, danced and played games. Mama Sarah and one of the teachers gave a speech. He talked about how most of the children lived in poverty before the school was built. He talked about how these children come to school now and have hope for a future. I have no words to express how I was feeling. Mostly I was feeling grateful for everyone who has donated money, books, love, ideas and prayers. I can’t believe that I am blessed to be able to be here to make this happen. I can only do this work because of your love and support. I’m feeling truly grateful.
Aside from when the kids are in school, there are very few moments when we are not surrounded by children. We are teaching each other games, songs, and dances. Lots of time is spent mending wounds, going to the clinic and putting on band-aids. Coloring is one of the favorite things for the little ones.
I LOVE LOVE LOVE being back with the kids. Watching Robbie and Wofa (read blogs from earlier to meet Wofa) has been incredible. Even though there is only a 1 year age difference, Robbie is about a foot and a half taller. He has taken Wofa under his wing. They have been inseparable. They walk hand in hand wherever they go. Robbie reads to Wofa and helps him study. They play constantly. It’s very sweet. Robbie is great with the other kids too. The little girls have crushes on him and the boys have been great about including him in things.
Mitch dances with the kids a lot. They love that. Kwame Acquah (again, read earlier blogs to know Kwame Acquah) has become his shadow. If Mitch is out, Kwame is right with him. They walk hand in hand and Kwame is there to help in any way he can. Mitch has also been helping with construction. Yesterday he was up to his knees mixing cement and loading it into head pans for the workers to carry to the second floor.
Amy fits right in. She is such a “mama” also. She is able to see things that need to be done and jumps right in. During school time and in the evenings when the children go to sleep, Amy has been getting the library inventory done. My sister Betsy did a Buck$ and Books Blitz at her parish in Indianapolis, St. Alphonsos. They sent 7 suitcases full of books (close to 800 books). THANK YOU SO MUCH! The kids love to read books and those who cannot read, sit with us and read every day. Today, Amy and many of the volunteers are going to clean the library and organize all the books by grade level. Can’t wait! School is soon to go on break. When they return, there will be a whole new library.
Blodge, my friend from the Yukon is great. Blodge is “on” all the time, loving the kids. As I speak of Blodge, There has been an acceptance by the boys because of Blodge’s great soccer skills. They have invited Blodge to join them for their practices and they respect the coaching given. That is AMAZING because girls don’t play soccer here. They have accepted Blodge as one of the guys. It’s great to see. If Blodge is around, there is always joking and being ridiculously silly and everyone loves it. When we were in town, Blodge was getting people laughing everywhere – giving hugs and acting crazy. They loved it.
Thank you to the many people who have written sending love and concern about ebola. At this point, there have been no cases of ebola here. There are two rumors circulating. Both were proven to be untrue.
Ghana is a country that is surrounded by Togo, Cote D’Ivoire (Ivory Coast) and Burkina Faso. There have been very few outbreaks in isolated cases on the Ivory Coast. These few cases were contained and thusly not full blown outbreaks. There have been no reports of ebola in Ghana, Togo or Burkina Faso.
We have read that the outbreaks are mostly in Liberia, Sierra Leon and Guinea. My prayers go out to the many people that I met in Liberia in 2012. We pray that we will soon find the answer for how to contain, prevent and heal this disease.
A great source of updated information for any disease concerns afflicting traveler is the World Health Organization (WHO) at http://www.who.int/en/. Their ebola information is very accurate and up to date.
To put it into perspective, check out the ebola map on WHO’s website. The long and short of it is that we are in an isolated village. We are practicing safe and healthy living.
We will continue to visit WHO to see what’s happening.
Well, that’s it for now. This was a bit long, but I wanted to catch you up. Pictures and stories about the kids are coming soon.