At the end of each day, while we are gathered for a family style dinner, the volunteers share their personal highlights of the day. It is our thanks giving; a way to share what has spoken most to each person, reflecting, out loud, about what another might not have observed or experienced. In our work on this land, the connections extend beyond the classroom and scheduled programming time. Most importantly, it serves as a guide of powerful moments to share back at home about how our mission fulfilled. On this evening, we are overflowing with highlights, both personally and as a reflection of a good day's work. For Carter and Trey, their day started before the sun rose. They headed just up the hill to capture the morning routine for the Glover family and, in particular, the living conditions of two of our scholarship recipients, Godfred and Angel. Our paths first crossed with this family back in 2010, when we helped Godfred get the medical attention he needed to cure a potentially deadly infection in his eye. We visited many hospitals with this child in search proper treatment for his orbital cellulitis. We forged, through that terrifying experience, an unbreakable bond; our relationship with the family, our neighbours up the hill, has grown and evolved since then. The Glovers represent the very poorest on Earth in so many ways. Matthew Glover, the father, is a humble and loving man, but he and his wife, Dzifa, have incredibly limited financial resources and limited education; they have had multiple births in quick succession and sustain their ever-growing family, by living off the land, through hard work, heartache and sheer resilience. It is their beauty, the intense bonds of their family, and their humanity that stirs our souls. They also represent, as a family who receives assistance through our Vida Oyiadzo Scholarship fund, what new opportunities and a hand-up can provide. They have recently put Yayra in school, completely on their own. Carter reflected on his time with the Glover family this morning and concluded that it wasn’t just the highlight of his day, but a highlight of his life.
For Amy, the highlight is reconnecting with the eruption of joy that fills chapel on Wednesday mornings. Her tears of joy flowed quickly, today, as the students stood and released, in waves that washed over her entire being, the most beautifully resounding tones. This experience - of over 600 children singing while jumping up and down - and the corporeal response it invites, is seldom felt elsewhere. It overwhelms your senses in the most awe-inspiring way. Amy's joy was extended when the students were asked what they had learned yesterday from working with Children Inspiring Hope. Rashida stood first to share, “We must put our heads together and work to make our natural environment clean and nice for us all.” Amy was overwhelmed with pride.
For Mimi and Kira, it is the hands-on work with the P5 students at Sokode-Bagble that captured their thoughts, their hearts. For Mimi and Kira, the highlight was the joy that they saw in the faces of the students as they saw the projects and photos from America. It was the pride the students had while creating their own “lily” flowers and creating their own messages to bring beauty across the world. It was also, for these women and the group as a whole, the one-on-one time, at the end of the day, that they shared with Fred, another of our scholarship recipients. He is home from school on break and has joined us for dinner. He is reading a book for school and has created a list of words that he needs help to understand: harbinger, ironically, and perseverance. He inquires about a sentence in the book, which explains that the stories that reach other lands from Africa are mostly negative. He asks, quite taken aback, if this is true. Mimi shares with Fred, that this is not what Amy and Children Inspiring Hope bring back, but it is much of what the world hears and sees from other sources about Africa. Fred is stunned, and our hearts sink a little with his.
The West Africa that we know is joyful, resilient, and giving. The families are hard working, and they love their children as much as any other parent on the planet. The students have dreams of better futures, and of helping their communities to grow and thrive. Our colleagues have regular conversations and scheme to figure out how they can better influence the needs of their people; they long to help move Ghana forward. We give thanks this evening, and each evening, for the privilege to walk with them, to share, and to be a part of their story.“Cultivate the habit of being grateful for every good thing that comes to you, and to give thanks continuously.” - Ralph Waldo Emerson