I recently returned from a trip to Ghana in western Africa. My husband is the Episcopal bishop of Western Massachusetts. His diocese has a companion relationship with the diocese of Kumasi in Ghana. So Doug, our two daughters, Caragh and Grace, and I travelled to Ghana to meet our friends in ministry, tour the country and see how we can continue to work with the people of Ghana build the kingdom of God and improve the quality of life for God’s people there.
People have asked me upon my return, “Did you have fun?” This was not, in any way, a vacation. And, although there were moments of feeling great joy while I was in Ghana, I wouldn’t say the trip was “fun” , as we Americans see fun. There were things I loved. There were things that really disturbed me and that I didn’t love at all. And there were things that I can’t get out of my mind — images and situations that I think about as I go to sleep at night and think about when I open my eyes each morning.
Things I loved:
The people of Ghana were amazing. Despite their varied regions (10 in all), they pride themselves as being the African country that has never had a civil war. They are peace loving people. They have a tremendous sense of hospitality. And they have an innate sense of joy. One of the volunteers from England that we met put it best: “They have absolutely nothing, and they thank God for everything.” Ghanaians have a tremendous sense of gratitude for everything. I think that is the key to their joy.
I loved the Mampong Baby Home. The Anglican Church does amazing work in Ghana to improve the quality of life for its people. One of those missions is the Mampong Baby Home. The Baby Home cares for babies whose mothers have died in childbirth. They take care of these babies until they are about 5 or 6. And then they return them to their villages and to their extended families. When we visited, there were 36 babies there, ranging from ages 6 to two weeks old. It is a place of tremendous joy, led by the amazing Maggie (standing second from the right in the picture on the left). Maggie has worked at the baby home for 30 years. It is her life’s work, and the children adore her. Leaving this place was heartbreaking for all of us (my girls cried for an hour in the car!). We wanted to take them all home with us!
I love the Women’s Vocational Center. There is a tremendous emphasis on education in Ghana, particularly women’s education. The Women’s Vocational Center is a place where those women who have neither the means nor the ability to go to university are trained in a craft — catering, or hairdressing, or seamstress work. The vocational center gives them a path out of poverty. THis young women were adorable and very spirited. To welcome us, they learned to sing “This is the Day the Lord has Made” and sang it in harmony for us! Here is a picture of some of the young women in the catering program. Next to it is a picture of the teaching kitchen they are trying to build to be able to accept more students. They had to stop building for lack of money. It would take $30,000 to completely finish the building. $30,000…. Can you imagine? People’s kitchen renovations in this country cost more than that!
Next post, things I loved less………………