After walking 500 miles across Spain raising $11.200, losing a passport, being stuck in Spain, receiving numerous warning about traveling to Ghana and getting the occasional report from a team of the bravest people I know, we have finally made contact with the group that traveled to the village of Tafi Atome, Ghana and they are all back home now.
It seems that they are all in agreement that the trip was absolutely life changing and they all had a wonderful time. Amanda the founder of the charity said it was one of the best groups and best times she has hosted in Ghana. The first day was an adventure in itself traveling 5 hours in run down buses and moto-taxis to get to the village. When they arrived in the village the were put up in the bunkhouse. The next day they met the Chief and Elders of the village. Each female of the group was given a proposition. Apparently, the Chief of the village needed a full time translator, so he proposed that one of the 3 girls marry him to fulfill his English translation needs. I believe all of the girls were flattered, but politely declined.
Throughout the week they spent their days working on the home, installing windows and doors, painting and finishing off walls. The group really enjoyed getting to know Amanda (the founder), Emanuel, which is Amanda’s right hand man in Ghana and the couple that will be moving into the home to take care of the children. The village elders told stories of rural Ghana, and spoke with the team about the future of their village and how to improve life there. They spent evenings dancing with the locals, learning to play the African drums and spending time at the local restaurant having dinner every night. Apparently, when volunteers arrive the locals like to watch them work, sometimes giving the occasional hand with the project, but mainly just to pass the time and gossip about the daily news in the area.
All of them said that they have a new appreciation for running water. Each day they had to fetch their own water in buckets from the local creek and walk quite a ways carrying it back to the bunkhouse.
The home is about at 75% completed, which is a little behind from what we expected, but even the group experienced a couple of days where work was impossible due to torrential downpour. Roofing is scheduled to start on the home in the next week, and the final completion is now estimated for November or December 2014. The process to legally adopt the children is a lengthly one and in the works as we speak. If all goes smoothly the children will be ready to move into the home early 2015. Compassionate Journeys is also looking towards the future and eventually adopting more children in the years to come. The great news is that the home can hold more than 9 children. It is actually possible to hold closer to 50 people. But, 9 is the start for now.
The group spoke with Amanda and the village elders about future projects that will sustain the village and also the children’s home. The village has some land and Carol from Geneva offered to buy the home a cow, with one stipulation. The cow had to be named after her.
After 2 weeks in Tafi Atome, it was time to leave the village. Each of them saddened just a bit to leave their new friends. Their time in Ghana was completed with a quick trip to the coast. On the coast there still stands a slave castle where people were held captive in chambers until boats arrived to ship them to the Americas to be sold into slavery. For us westerners it is nearly impossible to think that slavery still exists in our world today. To experience a trip like this certainly opens up the eyes and hearts of all those involved. In Ghana, children are still sold into slavery on a daily basis, many times by their own family. In the castle where many tourists visit on a daily basis, there still exists a slave trade right outside of the doors and many people do not even know it is happening. The group received one last heartfelt experience while going on a tour of this castle. They walked through the chambers where many people were packed into small rooms, beaten, mistreated, abused, starved and killed all for money. Thousands of people came through these chambers. I am sure all of you can imagine the somber and sobering experience the group had at this moment.
For me, I will be heading to Ghana at a future date. There is no way I could set this all up and not finish what I started. I am sure there is a very good reason for me to be traveling to Ghana later, however, I don’t quite know what that is yet. But, with all things, we begin to understand with time and patience.
Again, I cannot give enough thanks to all the people that were a part of this project, people that gave me words of encouragement along the way, people that supported the idea, people donated their time, money and love. This has been one of the most amazing things I have done and I couldn’t have done it without any of you. The list of names is quite long, but I know you all know who you are. We did it together, we all made a difference.
Keep an open eye. I will send out updates about Ghana often. The One Effect is planning some wild adventures for 2015. Not only will we be returning to Ghana, but we are also planning a 3500 kilometer (2,400 miles) trip across India in a motorized rickshaw for charity. So stayed tuned…there is a lot more adventure and change to make in the world.
Saludos from somewhere in the world, Chris