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.