November 11th, 2012
Angelica, the EP Primary Ho-Bankoe Headmaster, insisted that Christie and Angela be her guests at church this past Sunday. We asked her how long it would take and were told about two hours. We arrived in her town, Kponoe, about 9am, when the services were scheduled to start, and the ceremonies were not over until 2pm! Wow, that is the longest church service either of us has ever been to. We are told that it is like that on many weekends for Ghanaians. The Christian services typically last at least two hours, and often longer. We got the luck of the draw for a four-hour service—the additional hour was due to the Ghana Maybe Time late start. Angelica’s church is EP, the same church associated with EP Primary Ho-Bankoe school. It is a large church of very simple design—concrete floors, concrete block walls with lots of ventilation, a high tin roof, ceiling fans, a raised alter area in the front, and large entrances doors on both sides of the church that were open the entire time. By the time the services started there were about 300 people in the church.
When we arrived we tried to quietly grab a seat in the back of the church, but as you can image, we are very easy to spot in Ghana. We were immediately summoned to the front of the church and invited to sit near the pastors, the same area the chiefs and other local dignitaries sit. We were honored. We learned later that Angelica and her husband both have significant roles in the church so we sat next to the two of them and they translated for us, as needed, and ensured we were actively involved with everything. They took great care of us.
The best part of the service needed no translation—singing, dancing, and drumming. There was a ton of it—way more dancing and singing than talking. And singing is not a passive activity in this Ghanaian church. People do not just stand up in their seats and sing. They are in the aisles, moving around, gathering in small groups for different songs, and dancing their hearts and souls to the music. It was inspiring and energy was infectious. Although we did not know the words to the songs, we jumped right in with the dancing and clapping. Even the offerings, where they collect money for the church, were active. The music and singing were the focus as everyone got out of their seats row by row and made their way up front to make an offering, dancing in a line as they went. It was an amazing experience.
The service included “thanksgiving” for two pastors who were being ordained. As an aside, when we were discussing celebrations and traditions in the schools, some of the kids were telling us that they also have Thanksgiving in Ghana. Now we understand what they meant. Evidently, thanksgiving is a Ghanaian term used to honor someone at church. We understand that thanksgiving is most often associated with funerals. Funerals in Ghana are big multi-day events (always on Friday and Saturday) to celebrate the life of the deceased with dancing, singing, eating, drinking and more. On the Sunday afterwards, the community gathers in the church to honor and give thanksgiving to the deceased.
There are so many interesting things we could share about the church services. We’ll just share a few more things that surprised us. First, we saw a large group of people in black robes and the types of hats we wear at graduations—flat on top with a tassel. We thought maybe there was another type of celebration that might be happening while we were there. Then we learned this was the choir. It would be interesting to understand the evolution of how our graduation outfits are the same as their choir outfits. And second, we were surprised when a woman came down the aisle with a big bunch of plantains on her head. We learned that they were auctioning plantains and yams to raise additional funds for the church. All and all, church was another amazing Ghana experience and despite our shock at being there for four hours, we were so grateful we had accepted Angelica’s invitation.
After church, we visited two of Children Inspiring Hope’s scholarship students, Godfred and Angel. We were reminded that they live in extremely simple conditions—small house made of wood strips, tin roof, dirt floor, outdoor “kitchen,” and wooden shelter with no walls for protection from the weather when they are outdoors. The kids and their parents were very excited to see us. They do not speak much English but we could feel their gratitude through their eyes. After visiting them, we were even more grateful that Children Inspiring Hope is supporting their attendance at school. These children are creating the foundation for a new generation of their family to live differently.
July 1st, 2011
Vida Oyiadzo July 4, 1956- June 23, 2011
These bodies are perishable; but the dwellers in these bodies are eternal, indestructible, and impenetrable. – Bhagavad-Gita
We are deeply saddened to share that our beloved Davi Vida left Earth last Thursday. We know that she is at peace, and no longer suffering. Each time that we spoke with her in the closing weeks, she always said, “Tell everyone I love them.” Vida loved many, and many grieve the loss of our sister and friend. Our condolences go out to her family, the EP Primary Community, and all who loved her.
Vida was a leader that lead by example, listening, patience, prayer and love. She was full of wisdom. Vida spoke in our first closing in Ghana, “Now that we are tied together, we can not break. This is a sign of solidarity. Tell the children we are one. We can no longer be broken.” While our hearts break for our loss, we are committed to her legacy living on, and our resolve for continued solidarity will continue.
When we returned from the waterfall trip in March 2010, Vida shared with the students – after a song of thanks- to go home and ‘Tell them the wonderful things you have seen. Me, I am very, very happy.” We know that Vida is back home, telling all the wonderful things she has seen.
Children Inspiring Hope will start a scholarship fund in her honor, so that for years to come, her legacy will continue to live on providing education and support for children at EP Primary Ho-Bankoe that need it. We are thankful to have walked together in this journey of the last few years with you. We will share all the wonderful things you have done, now and always. Akpe nami. Akpe Mawu for the enyakpo gift of Davi Vida. We will miss you dearly, but you will forever remain in our hearts. We love you Vida.
March 17th, 2011
If you give a man a fish, he will eat for a day.
If you teach a man to fish, he will eat for a lifetime.
If you teach a child to fish, he may feed the world.
Beauty’s P3 students erupt as we enter the classroom! Children jump up and down, onto desks, running around the room as if the home team is about to take the field for the championship. This is always one of our most jubilant classes. A beautiful blue felt river adorned with colorful fishes are the project shared from Mrs. Browning’s 3rd graders at HIES with the message “If you teach a child to fish, he may feed the world.” Each student rips small pieces of colorful tissue paper while contemplating their own messages for protecting water. This group will joyously bring forth the change they wish to see in the world, and uplift us all in the process.
Collages and scrapbooks are next up in Doris’s P5 classroom. They are wide eyed seeing the painting, collages, and scrapbook from Galloway students once again. IN our lessons about global water issues, the students are always astounding to learn how many people share planet Earth as home. Given a larger lens and context, especially knowing how many are in need, opens their hearts and empowers them with the difference they can make in so many lives. They eagerly get to work on their own expressions, and a few girls at the close take great joy in using the hole puncher and stringing the masterpieces together for their own book for their friends. Pride moves like waves across the room as they see their collective work, proof of their remarkable potentials to imagine and create a compassionate and sustainable world.
August 19th, 2010
Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one’s courage. – Anais Nin
In recognition of World Humanitarian Day, we would like to honor and give thanks for our volunteers whose generosity made the last exchange possible. It takes courage to travel to West Africa in service to others you have not met yet; to leave the comforts of our lives, our families, familiarity and abundant resources of western life. Stepping onto foreign lands makes us vulnerable- physically and emotionally. Surrendering to a slower pace and walking a connected path with others changes the lens through which you see and experience the world. This stretches you- internally and externally. Africa changes you. When you leave, you may never be the same. That takes courage. Tremendous courage!
We stand in awe of the generosity of Amy, Erin, Kelvin, Laurie, Mike, Nicole, Seth and Whitney who all traveled to Ghana and have continued to offer their time and talent to making the world a better place by connecting children globally. You have expanded the hearts and minds of thousands of children, and sent ripples of love and compassion out into the world. Akpe kakaka infinity!
July 6th, 2010
On our way home today we passed EP Primary and could not believe our eyes! We immediately turned the vehicle around to get a closer look. You have to see it to believe it- the roof was raised today for the future computer lab and library!! Only a few months ago this was the canteen, and we were discussing the collaboration possibilities with EVCOAfrica and EP Primary Ho-Bankoe.
The cracked stones that were used in the foundation, and those that will lay the walk way, arrive each day brought in small bags by the students. Each student’s family has contributed to this building, and all of the teachers, PTA and elders of Elorm EP Parish & EP Primary Ho-Bankoe are involved. This is their part of the collaboration. Children Inspiring Hope and EVCOAfrica will share in their part when the books and computer installation occurs.
The speed at which this is occurring is significantly beyond what is normally witnessed in this community, and is a true testament to a community honoring the opportunity brought forth to create a better future for thousands of students to come. We are soooo excited to share this progress, and look forward with great anticipation to the great days before us!
May 24th, 2010
“If people could unite, I don’t see anything stopping the world from being a better place.” – Nolosindiso Plaatjie
We began our reconnection as we usually do by gathering in a circle and sharing. The soon to be 5th grade graduates of Cliff Valley School expressed mixed emotions today. They were happy and excited about seeing their friends responses to their gift boxes and necklaces, but sad, too, that this could be their last project with Children Inspiring Hope. Groups of students began lobbying for CIH to follow them to the middle schools they are going to next school year – come to Galloway, Atlanta Girls School, Paediea…. – and we were overcome with emotions by these touching requests.
We shared with them the gift boxes that came back from their friends in P4 at EP Primary Sokode-Bagble. Although they were thrilled with the projects we brought back from Ghana, the students felt the biggest gifts they received was being able to see the excitement on the faces of their friends; the Cliff Valley students loved watched their gifts being received, the smiling faces, and the happiness they were able to give to their friends. They commented often on what amazing artists their friends are, and the genuine focus and care they took to send back their own gifts. Jennifer commented on how much she learned from her friends and how it has impacted her life.
We observed a genuine transformation in the 4th grade class also participating in this exchange. They were more expressive and shared collaboratively. Did you see what they said? Did you see their messages?! They said they were going to educate their parents not to cut the trees down! The students were empowered when they recognized that their messages will extend far beyond their friends’ classroom, and have the power to help preserve the environment. What a gift to give the world!
Given that there were two parents in the room that were able to witness first hand the impact of this project on their children, an email was sent immediately to Galloway School requesting the CIH program remain an enriching learning opportunity for these students. We are thrilled to share that we will stay connected to some of these students and work with Galloway School next year. What a gift for us to remain connected to such a unique group of kids! Akpe kakaka, Mrs. Mahood.
May 13th, 2010
The First Annual Oakhurst Globe Trot & Silent Auction benefitting Children Inspiring Hope!
karvanna- 707 East Lake Drive, Decatur, GA 30033
and 10 Oakhurst businesses.
Live Music * Silent Auction * Kids’ Corner *Discounts at Village Restaurants * Oakhurst Village Trivia Race
The founder of Children Inspiring Hope speaks between 8 and 9 about the project and the over 3,000 inspiring children who have connected in the last two years. We will be sharing the just released trailer for the short doc we are working on to tell the amazing story of these children and their hopes for our future.