April 2007: For some reason I am finding myself very lonely here, but I'm trying my best not to think of myself, and am making every effort to focus all my attention upon the children. (You would think I would have adjusted by now.) I know it's been quite awhile since I've been able to post anything, but the electrical power is constantly off, effecting our home as well as the Internet Cafe´. Plus, the internet connection is pitifully slow and unreliable.
One of our very fine workers, Samuel,
stands proudly next to our roadside sign:
"Least of These Children's Home".
This sign has since been blown down
by a terrible storm.
And speaking of the children, you should have seen the enthusiasm and embraces when we arrived. I finally have some pictures of our arrival. Their exhuberance was pure innocence. They all ran out to greet us and they hugged and cheered when they saw everyone. Suzy, the Director of Trip With a Mission, is called "Madam Suzy", and Mom is called "Madam Jo", while Dad is called "Grand Father". I am "Mr. Ted". These children are so very needy—requiring lots of tender love and affection. I feel very fortunate to be on such a mission with my dear parents, who are healthy and in their 80s.
Since arriving here at the "Least of These Children's Home" it has been extremely hot and humid. What should I expect here in equatorial Africa? It's so difficult to get to sleep at night, and during the day
I sweat through my shirts so that they are ringing wet. It's usually well above 100F degrees by 9:00 a.m.—and climbing rapidly to 120 - 130F degrees by afternoon. The "coolest" we have experienced was 80F degrees after one of the huge storms came through and cooled everything off. It was such a refreshing, if only temporary, relief! So much for the weather details. . .
What a welcome the children and staff gave us!
I want to say, that The Least of These Children's Home is not an "orphanage", as such. That is, it is NOT here only to provide shelter, food and clothing for the survival of unfortunate children. Actually, its goal is much higher.
The Least of These Children's Home:
We desire that the children in our care will reach the highest possible standard.
- represents an extended hand for each child, that they might have every opportunity to develop and grow, and to experience fulfillment and success, by God's grace, in this world, and the world to come.
- believes that each and every child in our care is a candidate for heaven.
- provides training that will develop refinement, deportment, character, disclipline, responsibility, cooperation, habits of the highest social skills, and intellectual development.
- is a training ground for God's service on earth, and for admittance into heaven.
On a recent Sunday morning, just a little after the sun had come up, I took a long walk through two villages. It was most amazing as all the village children wanted their picture taken—as did many of the adults. The people were very kind and gracious. Their living conditions consist of, well, a mud hut with grass and leaves for the roof. Things did not appear to be clean at all, and there was filth, trash, and garbage everywhere. Disease is rampant here and the lifespan is so short. I just want to, somehow, teach these dear people about basic hygienic principles.
Children from the nearby village.
Upon returning from my Sunday morning stroll it was now time to dig in, move lots of furniture, rearrange rooms, and begin preparing space for our new primary school. (Later, as funds become available, a separate primary school building will be built.) Anyway, it was tremendously hot and humid and the sweat just poured off. It was an exhausting day, but necessary. We have continued making preparations for school. The children in the home are from age three up to fifteen. The very youngest would not be enrolled in school, but the rest would be divided into three classes, initially.
Our opening day of classes was last Monday. What a happy and long anticipated day it was. With eager excitement the children arrived. Morning Worship and Assembly begins each school day at 7:30 a.m. and classes end at 3:00 in the afternoon. I am serving as the Headmaster (Principal) and also teach the older students. For science class I have begun presenting hygienic principles, God's laws of health (we call them "the Eight Doctors"), and stewardship of the earth (environmental responsibility). African children learn at a very young age that they can urinate and deficate just about anywhere outside. These habits, apparently, take some time to change. Meanwhile, we are striving to teach them better personal hygiene habits. On a recent Wednesday I had shown them some photos of the U.S. and Europe from my laptop computer, and right away some of them noticed the differences from their own country.
They all noted that these other countries had no trash all over the roads or around the houses or businesses, like is commonly found in Ghana. They all agreed they would like for their own home and surroundings to look as nice. So, Thursday afternoon I took the class outside where we made a wide, thorough, sweep around the home property and picked-up any piece of trash or rubbish that we could find. In all we hauled 9 wheel-barrows full of trash and filth—including too many recently and not so recently discarded Pampers—to the burning dump in the back of our property. Before we started around our own property you would have never guessed that there would be so much litter, as our landscape is very beautiful, but it was hidden under bushes and brush. We've agreed not to throw trash outside and to continue policing the property for litter each week. We've also decided to "adopt" a section of the road from our property all the way to the village—to keep it clean each Thursday afternoon. Needless to say, the children are all very glad to have left their local school. In fact, most of the children seem eager to learn. Sadly, in the local government school they were learning next to nothing. (UPDATE: May 30—We have continued the litter collection each and every Thursday afternoon on our property, down our dirt road to the main road, and on both sides of the main road into the village. I am so pleased to report that we seldom find any discarded litter on our own property and the main road up to the village is now nearly rubbish-free as we scour the roadside each week. I think it's the cleanest half-mile of road in Ghana!)
In the classroom.
We've had two very fierce hurricane-class storms come through, with extremely powerful winds and torrential rains. Trees were blown down, lots of branches
scattered all over, and our home was flooded in many places. I've been through many hurricanes in the Eastern U.S., and these seemed at least as powerful. The mighty gusts snapped the thick metal polls of our "Least of These Children's Home" sign right at their concrete foundation. Trees were felled and debris flew past as the horizonal rains limited visibility to just a few feet. I don't know just how fast the wind was blowing, but it was extremely intense. The fiercest part of the storms lasted about an hour, but the heavy rains remained all afternoon. Like I said, some of the rooms of the home were terribly flooded, with water everywhere. Even some beds were soaked. I am told that we have now entered into the rainy season, which will last until August or so, according to the locals.
Our "Least of These Children's Home"
Our local workers don't really speak or understand much English, but seem eager to learn and improve upon their skills. Janet, an excellent cook, is wonderful in the kitchen and does quite well with English. She has a refinement to her that is missing in many. She is gentle, soft-spoken, and possesses a beautiful character. Rose, one of the house Mothers, is sweet and kind and also does quite well with English.
Our home here, (the children's home), provides very civilized quarters, with flush toilets, gravity fed showers (cold water only and very low pressure), beds, and electricity (sometimes). Of course, there is no air conditioning,
but ceiling fans and 10-foot ceilings help with the heat...somewhat. With daily temperatures soaring past 120F degrees, nothing really helps much. One major problem that we face, as Westerners at least, is the daily power outages. It can go off for 12 or even 24 hours at a time, taking our valued ceiling fans out with it. In fact, there are weeks when we seldom have any electricity. Actually, the power is off right now and I am writing with battery power on the laptop. Getting to sleep can be a real trial as the sweat forms a pool on the sheets. I've begun sleeping on a bath towel to absorb some of the perspiration. My routine is to shower just before jumping into bed. These efforts notwithstanding, many a night I have struggled into the wee hours before finally nodding off. This time is usually spent in reading (by flashlight) and prayer.
The children really like their new truck.
But, notwithstanding a
few minor inconveniences to our spoiled Western way of life, our home here in Ghana's Central Region is a peaceful place, shining as a light from a hill, away from the noise and commotion of the towns. Visited by members of Parliment, they have declared our L.O.T. Home, "the finest children's home/orphanage in all of Ghana". Praise the Lord! This wonderful setting provides a rather idyllic surrounding and atmosphere for teaching "the least of these"—God's precious children.
Here are some of our precious girls,
all scrubbed and smiling, wearing their
brand new dresses.
Just this week the children received brand new clothes to be worn specially for church. A talented Ghanaian seamstress made these beautiful dresses for the girls.
As I prepare this page a huge storm has just blown up, with typical furry. The power is out, (of course), as I run off of battery power. My room is on the top floor with a balcony out my door, so I have a pretty fantastic view from up here. The wind and rain are nearly deafening as they lash out at everything in their path. I have discovered that it doesn't just rain here in Ghana—when it rains, it rains very dramatically and with much pent-up fury!
We have recently been very blessed—we received a very generous donation whereby we could purchase a vehicle—a Hyundai 4-door truck. This wonderful blessing means that
we no longer have to walk down to the main road and catch a "tro tro" (a beat-up old van) to run errands and shop for food, water, and supplies for the home. You have no idea how much this truck will mean to the operation of the home. We are so very thankful for this gift. The children seem to like it too!
The temperature is daily soaring past 120F degrees.
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From far away Africa,
DayStar Botanicals and Lifestyle Education
[ firstname.lastname@example.org ]
- For more information about Trips With a Mission and the Least of These Children's Homes, go to: TripsWithAMission.org
- To sponsor a child or to make a tax deductable donation, call: (303) 660-8866.