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480 Families Needed Now! Urgent!

Awhile back I posted about our trip to an orphanage in Accra. I happened to come across this particular orphanage and the pastor who runs it through a network of adoptive families. Hearing so many good things about this loving Pastor and all the work he was trying to do, I knew that my Father and I needed to pay a visit on our scheduled trip to file paperwork for my adoption.

This young pastor, barely in his 30’s has devoted his life to the fatherless. Him and his young family house 40+ orphaned children, some of those who are now too old to be adopted, but would otherwise have nowhere else to go. Him, his wife and three young children live at this orphanage and this young couple take on the role of parent, teacher, friend, nurse and so much more.

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Not only does he share his love with these children, he also runs an orphanage in the neighboring country Togo, which he visits often. Whenever Pastor John sees a need, he tries to help. That’s how the school we helped build in Hondzo came about {I wrote about it here.} John is from that area in Eastern part of Ghana and he wanted to give back to a village that had no school.

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Even though GMI is a modest place: no air conditioning, unpredictable power and bunk beds lining each room. This is a place 40+ kids call home. And it’s a loving home and orphanage {those are hard to come by}. Running an orphanage that houses, feeds and clothes 40+ kids every day requires a lot of money and unfortunately the rent was raised by the landlord and he is demanding the next two years upfront!

“$24,000 for two years’ rent seems like such a huge amount,” Kristie O’Leary of a small family-run non-profit that supports GMI said, “but not for our God!! Help us and all the children of GMI….please pray about how you can make an impact for them. This is their house, their HOME, and they need YOU!! Pray, give, share!! Nothing is too small! Click the Feeding the Orphans link below to make a donation, click AS NEEDED and type GMI RENT in the memo section!! THANK YOU FOR BEING A BLESSING!!!”

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My family and I have been so impressed with John and his loving and faithful heart. My younger sister is traveling to GMI at the end of February and will be staying for 3 months to help. Not only will she get to experience this large, loving home, she will get to meet and spend time with our future 11 year old brother, who my parents are in the process of adopting.

I encourage you to help Pastor John continue to do his work of helping the fatherless over these next two years. We need 480 families to donate only $50. Your donation will ensure these 40+ orphans will continue to be taken care of and not kicked out of their home with no place to go. Click here to make a tax-deductible donation. Please write “GMI Rent” in the memo box. 100% of your donation will go directly to this cause.

Understandably money is tight for many these days. Please share your love and compassion with these kids by sacrificing a dinner out or rent for movie night instead of going to the theater. If you cannot donate at this time, please please please share this post on Facebook, Twitter or re-post on your own blogs. Don’t think sharing isn’t enough! With the big wide web we could reach our goal in days!!

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School Building in Hondzo

Our time at the village was a short one (only 2 days) because I had an appointment at the U.S. Embassy to file our I600. I know many are interested in adoption timelines, especially if you are just beginning the process. I’ve posted our adoption timeline this far which gives you an idea of what really happens during all those months of paperwork and waiting.

This trip, on our first day we visited the orphanage and then we drove three plus hours to a small remote village in the Eastern part of the country. The first day in the village was just surveying the land and meeting the people and the second day was the start of the school construction. In total, this school will probably cost around $2500 U.S. dollars.

The photos above, with Faustina and Grandpa are some of my favorites from the trip. I thought Faustina would not dare interact with Grandpa because of how she was towards TJ our first trip.

When TJ and I first visited our children a few months ago, Faustina was apprehensive of him. She did not want to be near him or play with him at all. Towards the end of our stay she warmed up to him a bit and would play around for a little bit, but it was always a chore to get her to interact with him. I have heard this is very common in adopted girls because Ghana is a matriarchal society and more often then not men are not involved in their lives.

What was interesting, was one of the first things Faustina asked me this trip is…. “Daddy?” TJ must have been able to prove to her what having a loving father really feels like because she was missing him. One night, she was talking in her sleep and I was amazed to hear her say, “Daddy” and “Colton.” She must have been dreaming about all of us finally being together.

Things work very different in Africa. Many joke about “Africa time” which is generally about 3 or more hours later. The posts which were split palm trees, arrived in the afternoon.

This young man made an impact on my Dad. He was a hardworking 16 year old boy who came with us from the orphanage to help build the school. You will often find the kids that are not of adoptable age anymore stay at the orphanages to help.

 Faustina wanted to help too!

These little guys were adorable and I can only assume they are brothers. The oldest one watched from a distance the days that we were there. I was very proud of my little ones when I witnessed their first act of sharing, which is typically very hard when you come from an orphanage setting.

I initially told them to go and give these boys suckers and they looked at me like I was crazy. Jonathan stuck a few of those in his pocket for himself, but they eventually ran over and shared with these boys. Throughout the day they would come ask me for suckers or little toys to share and I was amazed when Jonathan gave them a few of the little toys we brought for him.

By the end of the day, the posts were coming along. There was no team of construction workers, everyone pitched in to help.

This little one is an orphan, both her mother and father are deceased and this young woman cares for her. You’ll find this is common in Ghana and other countries. The relatives, friends or neighbors will take in a child when needed, but sometimes their own family grows or in someway the child becomes a burden and that is when children typically are brought to an orphanage.

You do not typically see babies as pudgy as this cute little girl in Africa. Some have speculated that she has some sort of medical issue that accounts for her weight.

Our time in the village was very eye-opening and I am grateful for the experience. We were only able to see the beginning of the construction, but Pastor has updated us on Facebook of the progress.

A family who went a few weeks after us and are adopting from the orphanage we visited also traveled to this village and were able to stay a bit longer. They brought backpacks and school supplies for each of the children and everyone was so grateful! You can check out her blog from her time there.

The kids are set to go to school this month, so hopefully the school will be finished by then. It’s amazing that $2,500 can build a whole school and although it’s not the nice school buildings we have here in America, it’s a place where the kids can learn and receive an education when many in third world countries don’t have that privilege.

A Typical Ghanaian Village

When we chose to adopt internationally, both my husband and I agreed that we don’t just want to adopt a child in need of a home and leave the country for good. There is a reason third-world countries have many orphans and most of those are what we would think basic necessities of life here in America. We want to contribute (no matter how small it may be in the grand scheme of things) to the country in a positive way both now and by raising Ghanaian-American children who grow up proud of their country with the desire to do great things in the future for Ghana.

Our first trip was to meet our children and get to know them, but this second trip I traveled with my dad and I had a few things planned. Because of some new relationships that happened by chance, but were totally God-orchestrated, we visited an orphanage that was literally life-changing, especially for my Dad (more news in a few months about that!) The Pastor there does many different types of outreach and we eventually became involved in some of the funding of a school in a remote village in the Eastern part of Ghana, where the pastor is from. This trip we visited and began to do the initial work of building the school.

I have been told that this is a typical Ghanaian village. It is what you would imagine: grass huts, no running water, no school and no bathrooms. What you couldn’t imagine until you visited yourself, is how sweet the children and people of the village are. I gave most of my donations this trip to the orphanage in a different city my kids are from as well as the other orphanage I posted about, but the kids were happy with “toffee” (dum-dums) and toothbrushes (Donated by The University of Iowa Dental College)

From what I could gather, this man was a village elder who was on the chief’s council. He told me these were all of his children and he quickly formed them into a neat pose instead of their silly faces. Everyone was enamored with the camera and giggled when they were shown the image on the camera screen.

This is a farming village, so everyone is expected to help both to produce food to survive and to sell what’s leftover for profit. One day when we were there the village seemed deserted. With sun-up, the kids travel with their Mothers on “market day” to sell the goods they produced on their land. This means walking 10-12 miles one way to the nearest big town on a dusty dirt road. The Mother’s, and children of all ages will carry their produce on their heads often with a young child strapped to their backs. They travel the 12 miles back at night and start the process over for the week to do what they need to do to survive.

The meals on my first visit consisted of mostly fried rice from various restaurants- nothing too out of the ordinary. This trip we were able to experience the culture, food and people. My Ghanaian kids absolutely loved this food. See those tiny little brown things on the left side of the bowl? Those are tiny, tiny dried fish. I was brave enough to try a handful of those, but I did not try those bigger fish. My kids gnawed on those bone and all.

Many of the traditional dishes are a process to make. This older lady is making banku, a dough made out of cassava or maize, over an open flame and let me tell you it is tough!

The main crops this village produces are maize and cassava. To make food, the maize needs to be ground. They currently walk several miles one way to a corn-grinding machine just to be able to make their food. This machine costs about $1,500 US dollars and we hope to one day fund this so they will have an easier life and be able to produce a bit more income.

The banku stirring process involved a lot of muscle which I clearly do not have. The older woman thought this was hilarious!

This village is lucky enough to have a water well and this is where they get all of their water- to drink, to clean and to cook with. Many villages don’t have water wells so they get their water from dirty, parasite-filled stagnant water. That is much too common in African countries.

In a typical Ghanaian village, the people are hard-working, grateful and more than sweet. It’s easy to know about problems of third-world countries or hear things on the news, but it’s another thing to see them with your own eyes. So many of us here in America consider ourselves “poor” or feel sorry for ourselves for not having a big house, nice car or the latest gadget.

There are many wonderful organizations and non-profits working here in the United States to help fellow Americans in need and there’s no doubt we need to continue to help and support those organizations along with our own neighbors and our community, but we also need to think about our brothers and sisters many miles away.