It all started when...
In 2006, CIH Founder Amy Gaylor spent three months volunteering in Ghana, West Africa with Cross-Cultural Solutions. While initially planning to be in the classroom, she was placed with other social workers in a local municipal hospital were she saw both the greatest of struggles, and the beautiful resilient spirit and strength of the Ghanaian people. A child that she visited regularly in the Pediatric Ward, his body covered in burns shared his wisdom, “I need your hope, not your pity.”
During her time in Ghana, Amy created a connection between a P2 classroom where fellow volunteer and friend Whitney Doe was teaching and a kindergarten class in Augusta, Georgia. Similar to what Children Inspiring Hope is doing today, the exchange was full of joy, excitement, and curiosity. You would have thought the drawings from the American children were pots of gold, as the young students were mesmerized and intensely focused on these loose leaf sheets of paper covered in images from another land.
When she returned to the classroom in America, and brought Ghanaian drawings back, there was nearly the same level of focus and excitement. The children began to ask poignant and profound questions about their new friends; Do they have books? What are their homes like? Do they have clean water? Many of the children instantly exhibited empathy and compassion expressing a desire to share their own belongings with these children on the other side of the globe. Teachers and parents were moved by the process and the reactions of children- they too were inspired. The seed was planted.
In the fall of 2007 the seed began to germinate. Amy envisioned another exchange on a larger scale. If more children could be connected globally, the compassion spread, then perhaps a more peaceful world could be created. A world in which the diversity actually unites us…She returned to Ghana. The first projects in this initiative were created with a community group gathered by friend Kendle Hassinger. A candle lit from the World Peace Flame was passed on, and Peace Flags were created….
Returning to the Volta Region of Ghana in late January of 2008, with projects of peace and friendship from 250 American children in hand, Amy was greeted first by EP Primary Ho-Bankoe School. The entire school was gathered, and there was a ceremonial greeting and cultural dancing including a prayer and proclamation of hope that both sides would benefit greatly from their connection to one another. Located in the eastern part of Ghana bordering Togo, the Volta Region is an area of extraordinarily scenic beauty teeming with festivals and ceremonies which reflect the rich diversity of history and culture of tribal life in the region. This warm welcome they so gladly offered is a natural expression of these gracious people, it rooted firmly to power of this exchange, an invitation for these two cultures whom have much to share and learn from one another.
Now, Children Inspiring Hope is inspiring classrooms and youth groups across America and Ghana to unite children and adults from all walks of life to become involved in the logistics of these soulful and profound exchanges. Nearly 6,000 children have been connected and empowered.