Welcome home to Ghana! by Zach Neumann
Welcome home to Ghana! I first came to Ghana for seven weeks in 2008. There have been many trips, experiences, smiles, hugs, and times when words simply would not come. Our trip to the Volta river included all of the above.
We did not do our usual cultural excursion to the western part of Ghana; instead we headed east, stopping at the Shai Hills Reserve. This beautiful park houses many different animals in a protected and natural environment. We saw many baboons, bats, birds, and even some zebra and antelope. I will be the first to acknowledge that I am not in the best shape (nicely round is not the shape I desire to be). So when I heard that we had to hike up into the bat cave in order to get to the top of the rock formation, I debated if I really wanted to attempt the ascent. I can tell you, the rocks, the scary ladder, the smoke, the stink of bat droppings, and the sweat were totally worth it. The view from the top was spectacular. It reminded me that in life, the view from the top is made all the more beautiful by the struggles we face as we go up. Looking out on the vast expanse of green, I caught a glimpse of God’s imagination and handiwork.
After leaving Shai Hills, we made our way to the Volta river where we met up with two teachers, a pastor, and his wife. The little boat, with an unreliable outboard motor, that took us from Point A to the village was……..unsteady and very leaky.I could watch the leak spurting a very healthy stream of water as we made our way along.
The village that we visited is a site where Debi, the Founder of Ghanaian Mother’s Hope, had recently spent a day training new Water Mamas. These ladies are given buckets and a filter that enables them to provide clean water to their families. We had come to provide replace some of the buckets and train two mothers who were at a funeral during the original training. This village would be described as what most Americans picture when they hear “African village”- mud huts, thatch roofs, fishing nets strung about, children running with no shoes, and the scent of earth and smoke wafting through the air. While Debi assisted the women, the two American teens made some new friends from the few brave village children who came to sit with us. One little girl in particular had the most joyous, innocent laugh in reaction to the goofy faces and sounds we made for them. For most of these children, our team was the first group of outsiders that had ever seen and gotten close to.
Before we knew it, our time in the village was over and we made our way back to the tipsy boat with the generous leak. Many might ask what was the point, what was accomplished by our visit to this village? The women of the village have been provided a means to give their families safe, clean water for years to come. Each water mama was instructed to share with three other mamas, creating a ripple effect. They have been given hope that their children can remain healthy, go to school, learn, and grow to be strong adults. There is hope that perhaps we will return to conduct reading camps here. Hope empowers and lifts us up. Hope gives us a chance at tomorrow.