5 Years of Service

76177_168659179819178_6583761_n "If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together." -African Proverb

In October 2010, I set off for our 4th exchange on my own. My determination to grow CIH, strengthened by the change I was seeing in the children being connected, wasn’t going to be lessened by the small bump in the road of not having a volunteer to travel with me. Little did I know what arriving in Ghana on my own, projects in hand from hundreds of US kids, would ultimately bring for the growth, success and heart of our work.

Kelvin and I share a common friend, John Agbozo, whom I worked with side-by-side in the social welfare department at the local municipal hospital in 2006. Kelvin is also a social worker, who showed up to assist with the exchange that first week, and he hasn’t left our side since. Laughter has been the touchstone of our nearly all our shared journeys. I remember vividly sitting in the open-air classroom at Ziavi-Bamefedo Village, me trying to remember how to say “beautiful” in Ewe for the hundredth time, and Kelvin sharing you need to eat more Banku. Oh, that is it, for the Ewe to stick, just eat more local food! We still laugh about that today.

Kelvin began as a volunteer, then became our Country Coordinator, and is now our Chief of Operations in Ghana. His presence far surpasses his roles in coordinating incoming teams, facilitating programming in classrooms, and building cross-cultural understanding amongst all our partners. Kelvin has a special way with the kids, and his status borders on rock star as he enters a campus or classroom. He is known for his smile, getting the kids to laugh, and gentle hand on the head. His commitment to our scholarship children is better described as an adoptive parent or older brother. He has stated himself, when I thanked him for his care in regards to some of the orphans, they are my family now.

Service and working with foreigners comes with difficult pressures attached by the local culture. There have been many cross-cultural challenges over the years that have stretched us to grow and deepen our own understanding. At times, he has been placed in very difficult predicaments. An individual invested only in their own plight could have easily waked away many times. His integrity and commitment to all the children we serve is always heartfelt, and at times, courageous. His commitment to helping Ghana move forward is honorable and inspiring.

To say we are thankful would not begin to describe all the gratitude each volunteer that has traveled with us would express. Kelvin is our Chief, guide, efo (brother) and friend. Our lives are immensely enriched to share the journey with him. Akpe ka ka ka 10,000 Chief!