On my first trip to Ghana in 2004, I was so in love with the children. I watched in awe as little girls hardly five years old, carried 8 month old babies on their backs for hours. I can barely carry my backback which is only 7% of my body weight and these girls were carrying a baby who equaled 50% or more of their body weight. My heart and my back ached for these precious children.
Asking around, I realized that most young girls are responsible for the care of their younger siblings. Their moms are busy working or cooking. These little girls stay at home and start school at an older age. Most are 9 or 10 before entering kindergarten. It is not surprising that many drop out of school by grade 3.
That trip changed my life and in turn it has changed the lives of hundreds of children. In 2005 with the help of Marjie Mack and Bruce Neuman, I founded Ghanaian Mothers’ Hope, Inc. We invited the Mother’s Union of St. Andrew’s Anglican Church in Ghana to join us in finding a village to build a preschool.
Foremost was the safety and health of these defenseless little ones. By providing a place to stay, a good meal, and beginning the education process, we could raise the survival rate for each child. This gives older children, who have been charged with the task of caring for younger siblings, the opportunity to attend primary school. Basic health and hygiene education is provided. Though tribal language is spoken at home, public schools are taught in English. We start teaching conversational English, hoping in the future to provide some adult language education as well. Our hope is to excite children about learning and educate the family on the benefits of continuing the education process.
Children have so much responsibility that they need a chance to just be children. The Westminster Rotary Club enjoyed providing and shipping the supplies to help the dads from Akramaman Village build a first class playground for their children at the new preschool. For these dads it was the first time they had ever seen a swing!
We are also addressing the health of children. Unhealthy children do not learn. We provide health and nutrition training for moms. We also provide expectant mothers with safe motherhood birthing kits. Since most moms give birth at home the kit gives each mom everything she needs for the delivery.
The past nine years have been the hardest and most rewarding of my life. We have changed the lives of more than 300 children and 650 moms. This journey is just beginning and I hope you will join us to change lives forever empowering the future leaders of Africa.