The First Weekend in Ho

Most people who know me, know that I am always busy and I am always doing something. Well yesterday was the first time in probably two years where I had absolutely nothing to do. I woke up to Akbene, a student of The Village Exchange, knocking on my door. She brought breakfast with her. She was in the middle of doing laundry so I came outside and sat with her for about two hours talking here and there while she was working and I was eating. I learned that she was 21 and in school with The Village Exchange in a 2-year program where she would learn how to make batiks, jewelry, and learn to sew. She lived quite far away so she was one of the few VEG students who actually lived on the compound at all times. We were the only two people on the compound all day yesterday so we spent the majority of the day together, I mostly just sat around and listened to her tell me stories. After some time she went back to her room and I went to mine to read and work my French language practice.

Smiling faces of Ghana

Smiling faces of Ghana

I realized that this would be how most of my weekends would probably be as my Village Exchange program was only Monday-Friday. I needed/wanted to get out on the weekend and work with kids. I decided I would try to reconnect with an orphanage I had visited last time I was in Ghana.

In Ghana if you meet someone once then you will most likely stay friends with them forever. I had let one of my old GLA (Global Leadership Adventures) leaders, Dodzi, know that I was coming to Ghana and I reached out to him yesterday asking if he would be traveling back to Anloga, which was the village I had stayed in before. I also asked him for the names of the orphanages we had worked with. I then found out the one I had in mind had been shut down. Dodzi said he would be going back to Anloga in the month, but that Stephen, who was another one of the GLA leaders lived in Ho and I should reach out to him to catch up and to find another orphanage. I called him, but there was no response so Dodzi called Stephen. About 20 minutes after this exchange happened Akbene knocked on my door saying someone was here to see me, it was Stephen and his brother.

Stephen is a goofy guy with a huge heart. He refers to himself as “Humble Lion”. That night as we were catching up on all the different projects we had been working on the past two years he brought up the idea that it was his “destiny” to do good work and that we all have a purpose. When I told him about my R.O.C. Inc. project of international culture exchange he was ecstatic, and right away knew what we should be doing. He arranged for us to visit an orphanage Sunday to start developing a program where in supplement to the work I am doing with VEG we could do a cultural exchange program together, with students at the orphanage.

Stephen (in the middle), his brother, and a little boy on the way to the orphanage

Stephen (in the middle), his brother, and a little boy on the way to the orphanage

Today Stephen came to meet me and we went to an orphanage called New Seed International, which is run by a man named Livinus Jackson. There are a total of 28 students, 18 of them are there because their parents died of HIV/AIDS, while 10 of the them were there because the police had rescued them from some sort of child slavery, mostly working in the fishing villages on the Volta Lake regions.

Livinus talked to us about his dream to empower the young boys and girls, specifically the girls to fulfill all of their dreams. And to push them to follow through on their education and to achieve their goals. He thought it would be very beneficial to have me there to work with the girls on the weekend (and sometimes the week days). He absolutely loved the idea of having a cultural exchange and Skyping with American students to start developing friendships around the world. Tomorrow I am going to go back with Kofi to see how we can also work on our reproductive health program here for the boys and for the girls.

When we went to introduce ourselves to the girl’s class we asked them what they wanted to be after they were finished with school, here were some the responses we got: a journalist, a nurse, a doctor, a professor, an accountant, a weather forecaster, a news anchor, and an actress.

The full class of girls at New Seed International

The full class of girls at New Seed International

New Seed International Girls (the one in front wants to be a journalist!)

New Seed International Girls (the one in front wants to be a journalist!)

These girls were between the ages of 11-15 and all were incredibly bright and passionate about learning. I am thrilled that Livinius will be allowing us to come and work with them.

Stephen is all about making up new sayings and one of his favorite saying is “the heart is like a two-way song”. He said that the only way I would eventually understand the saying is if your heart is in the right place, and that specific place has the be right for you. I think that over the course of these two months I will be able to learn and see if this place is truly “right” for me.

selfie with the boys :) 

selfie with the boys :) 

Natalie