The distinct smell of the African air reminds me that I am home. I only have to walk down the roadside for a moment to feel that I am in the right place at the right time. This is where I belong, each day reminded of why I am in Ghana. The needs in Ghana are vastly apparent. There is a hunger so palpable in this land. I don’t speak of a hunger for food, but a hunger for hope and opportunity, an overwhelming hunger for a better tomorrow. This is why I am in Ghana. And with that hunger there is a look I have come to know for over 30 years, that joy in the faces of people who greet me all day long. They know you have come back for them, maybe that you have brought something for them, or simply that you love and care about them.
There’s only one way that you can build a library and computer lab in less than 3 weeks. It takes commitment, hard work, a vision shared by an entire team, a lot of faith, and a community coming together for the sake of their children and future generations. I was inspired in Ghana by a worksite that went beyond my Ghanaian team that includes my mason, carpenter, electrician, painter and welder who have followed me for the last 3 years. In taking the risk of doing a major expansion to a small classroom given to me by the school, a community voluntarily came together to ensure that Hope for Ghana’s sixth library and computer lab would be completed before I left.
Among the many community volunteers who worked day and night a young man, Evans, stood out among the rest, a hard-working, friendly, energetic, faithful worker. I remember saying to Evans on the first day, “This work you do is for your 7 year old son and for your 4 year old son. They will have a library because of what you have done today.” Weeks later when I was hanging Cody Sabol’s beautiful artwork in the library I wanted Evans to have the honor of reading Cody’s personal message. But Evans reminded me at that moment that he does not know how to read. In a beautiful way I realized Evans was not only building a house of learning for his children but one for himself. My life was touched by this young man, and I promised Evans I will teach him to read, and promised him that he will have a job on my next project.
This is what a dedicated team can do in 3 weeks. After breaking down a wall and building an extension, a small classroom was transformed into Hope for Ghana’s sixth and largest library and computer lab. It houses thousands of books, including story books, text books, dictionaries and encyclopedias, and has a computer lab filled with nearly 60 pieces of learning software including online encyclopedias and programs to teach reading, spelling, math, science and art. It is an opportunity that children in this village have never seen before. This is what can be done when people come together with a shared vision.
March 3, 2017 was a day of great celebration in the village of Abor as Hope for Ghana’s sixth library and computer lab was inaugurated in a beautiful formal ceremony attended by the Chief of the village, distinguished guests and students. It was a day to remember as I celebrated a project that involved so much contribution from a very grateful community. I had the privilege of delivering a heartfelt message of hope and gratitude that I am very proud to share with you. The program also included a special cultural presentation of music and dance. The headmaster’s brother, Francis, came in from the distant city of Kumasi for this opening and said to me, “Today is the best day of my life. My vision for this village has come true.”
The future of Hope for Ghana is bright. Appeals coming to me for future projects remind me that Hope for Ghana is needed in a land so hungry for a brighter future. I don’t do any of this alone and I remain humbled and grateful for everyone around the world who supports this mission. Thank you for joining me on this amazing journey. The impact of your love is felt by tens of thousands of Ghanaians every day. There’s still much more to come. Hope for Ghana’s next project will be its biggest ever, building a schoolhouse for primary school children in a very remote village, with a very special dedication soon to be announced.
With much love and gratitude,