Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Ghana Make A Difference

Shortly after arriving in Ghana, my wife informed me that she had put together a trip to take our family along with 8 local teenagers to help out at a Children’s Shelter called Ghana Make a Difference. The youth we went with are locals and have grown up living in a Liberian refugee camp in Southern Ghana. 

Ghana Make A Difference takes care of about 29 kids. The majority of them are young boys between the ages 6 and 13. It is not an orphanage but a temporary child shelter where the government will bring children who have been neglected, abandoned, or experienced all kind of abuse including child labor and human trafficking.

GMAD is a big operation so there are many staff members and their families who also live there. Our group of about 15 volunteers was there for 10 days and we got to stay in a separate building at their facility and they took good care of us even though we were supposed to be the ones serving them.

We were able to spend time playing with the kids, cooking, doing service projects like painting the new staff house they had just built, weeding, and moving building materials for additional structures they are building. 

In the evening, we would spend time with the youth we brought with us. We spoke with them about their future plans and what they wanted to accomplish. We also shared some skills and tools with them that will help them throughout their lives.

While at the shelter I was amazed to see so many happy kids despite their circumstances. The facilities there are much nicer than any other type of shelter or care center here. It was clean, safe, well organized, and a very impressive operation. They teach the kids, feed them three meals a day, let them play soccer and other sports, and take them to church each week. It was a very inspiring experience to see all the good they do there. It was also nice to make new friends with the kids, staff members, and the youth we went with.


Mary said...

Very important work, Tom! I'm curious to know what happens to these children after spending time at the shelter (since it's just temporary). Do most of them age out or are they ever able to return to the care of their families or relatives? I'm also curious about the teenagers who served with you- how many of them are "unaccompanied" refugee minors (basically orphaned or not able to track down family members)? Hearing that some of these children have been subjected to human trafficking is both heartbreaking and enraging.

Tom said...

The young kids there are usually there short term until they can return to their families or a safer home. The Liberian refugee youth who helped us were from age 15-18. None of them were orphans but they have all struggled growing up in a nearby refugee camp all of their lives. The Liberian refugee camp has been around for over 25 years. Even though their civil war ended some time ago, many lost family and don't have a place to live or the means to travel back and start over so they continue to live in Ghana.