For the past three and a half months I have been living in a village in the Volta Region of Ghana, Frankadua. It didn’t take me long to feel right at home, the locals are extremely welcoming and the kids always put a smile onto my face. My first impressions of Frankadua was that of a friendly community, the people were happy living their simple life, although often without electricity and other luxuriates of my upbringing, they were working well with what they had. As time went on I grew to understand Frankadua in a different light, I saw corruption in the law enforcement, children who had been left to fend for themselves and learnt of many cases of child defilement. As confronting as all of this was for me, it made me more eager to help and I quickly saw opportunities, which would help me to make an impact on what, I now saw as a struggling community, one which suffers from deeper issues that most people couldn’t recognise on the surface.
When I made the decision to come to Ghana I planned to teach at a school, without any prior knowledge of teaching and having never worked around kids before I expected it to be a challenge. Though once I had arrived and I saw how open and friendly the people were, it made things much easier. I based myself in the Kindergarten block of E.P. Primary School. I was fortunate enough to be working alongside an inspiring and passionate teacher, Madam Martha. Each day, as I entered the classroom, the kids would sing me a welcome song. I became Madam Lily. As I began learning more about the education system in Ghana, the reality became clear.
At primary school level, there are many 15-19 year olds still trying to complete year 3-6, its often that children will not be able to start Kindergarten until they are 8-10 years old and many of them will repeat several years. I noticed that a lot of the kids are being moved around schools as the family sends them to live with various relatives depending on who can best look after the kids as the time. A lot of kids will spend at least one day of the school week working on the farm or helping their parents to sell at the market. Many kids were arriving to school having not eaten, some arriving after walking for 3 miles from a nearby village in the heat, and without money to purchase food. I noticed many students in my class falling asleep due to lacking energy and nutritional values. I gained an understanding of how important basic education is, particularly at a young age. Due to not eating at school, or not having enough money, many of the children in Ghanaian villages are failing at education.
I began thinking of how I could help, what could I do to help these kids stay in school and remain strong and healthy? Create a feeding program. After beginning with an idea, working with teachers, families and fellow volunteers, Lunch 4 This Bunch was created. I began a fundraiser and within two weeks my friends and family had raised $2000 to help these children. Initially we began with choosing the 40 most needed families and signed them up to the program. After establishing a committee of teachers to help me run the program once I leave Ghana, I held meeting with the parents of the 40 kids. After a welcoming prayer, the principal’s introduction and myself being introduced my Madam Martha; I began explaining the basis of the program and why their children had been selected. After I spoke each sentence, a fellow committee member translated into the local language (Ewe), the room would fill with applause after each translation. The parents were extremely grateful and accepting of the program. They send their thanks to everybody who donated money to help their children.
As the first week of school begun in the New Year the program was put into place, the kids were put into four colour groups and received ID tags to purchase their food. The colour groups circulate each day through the four items being sold at the school canteen, Kenkey, Sabo, Beans and Waakye. The local ladies who prepare each food are appreciating the extra money for their own families and it is also an amazing help for them. I was overwhelmed with how much support I had within the community and from friends and family abroad. Somehow I have managed to begin my own charity project in a foreign country with the hope to aid the students through their education, Wow.
After beginning little by little, my new goal is to raise over $4000 dollars before I return to Ghana in July 2017. This amount of money would be enough to feed the whole school for the year, creating an impact on 100 more families in the village of Frankadua. But for now the program is running successfully, the students are satisfied and all the teachers and parents are grateful to those who donated and helped. Please check out my blog page for the project, Internet will be limited for me for a while but I will try and keep in updated every now and then, Thank you all!