I returned from Ghana just 2 weeks ago, exhilarated with the feeling of hope and opportunity I witnessed in the villages impacted by Hope for Ghana’s projects. I was greeted in Ghana with an overwhelmingly warm welcome. People in the village greet me as if they’ve been waiting for my return. Ghana in so many ways has become home, not surprisingly as I celebrate my 30th year in this West African country. Beautiful children around my guest house greet me every morning and remind me why I am here in Ghana. Their infectious smile and look of contentment is in striking contrast with their yearning for a better tomorrow. These are the faces of Ghana. These are the faces of hope.
This was a journey about Hope for Ghana’s past, present and future. It was a chance to build a new vibrant library and computer lab. It was also a chance to visit all the previous projects, bringing to them new books and more learning software. And most importantly, doors constantly opened for me, allowing me to create the vision for Hope for Ghana’s future.
In just 3 weeks a beautiful new library and computer lab was created and formally inaugurated in the rural village of Anloga along the coast of Ghana. Anloga Roman Catholic Basic School, a primary and junior high school with almost 600 students, is now the proud home to Hope for Ghana’s fourth project.
The same faithful, committed and hard working team of Ghanaians that has stood by me over the last several years once again transformed an empty space into an educational treasure. I couldn’t do what I do without their dedication, as Gustav, my mason and painter, Robert, my electrician, and Dziedzorm, my carpenter, worked day and night, 7 days a week. These 3 men are my family and are an essential and permanent part of Hope for Ghana’s team.
From an empty classroom that was donated to me, a library and computer lab was transformed before my eyes. Wall to wall bookshelves were quickly filled with books bought locally in the capital, Accra. Several hundred story books from early reader books to novels complement text books, reference books as well as 3 full encyclopedia sets. A new Dell computer system was brought in from Accra and arranged by a technician to create a state of the art computer lab. Over 50 pieces of learning software brought from the United States are now available for students of all ages. Encyclopedia Britannica and World Book Encyclopedia are available in their entirety on the computer, as well as programs for reading, spelling, math, science and art. Immediately after a formal opening ceremony, students flooded into the library eager to read, eager to learn, hungry for what lies in front of them.
Hope for Ghana’s newest project is proudly dedicated to the memory of Fritz Cameron who in 1977, at the age of 28, spent several years in Ghana as a Peace Corps volunteer. Fritz Cameron’s job as a math teacher at a small school in Ghana was the prelude to an overseas teaching career that spanned over 37 years. Fritz left Ghana with a promise to return one day. After his untimely death in 2014, Fritz’s family wished to fulfill his promise and so The Fritz Cameron Library will serve to educate Ghanaian children in the same way that Fritz dedicated his life to educating and impacting children in Ghana nearly 40 years ago.
On March 4, 2016 a formal opening ceremony “commissioning” the library and computer lab was attended by Chiefs, elders, the Director of Education and other distinguished members of the community as well as the students. I was privileged to deliver an emotional inaugural speech that proudly spoke about the importance of providing hope and opportunity for the future generation of Ghana. The program was accompanied by a beautiful Ghanaian traditional dance display as well as a choir presentation from the students.
Doors seemed to be opening for me everywhere I went during this trip, meeting important people that will continue to have great influence on Hope for Ghana’s past and future projects. I was honored to meet the Chief of Tegbi, the Assistant Chief of Anloga, and the Paramount Chief who is the King of the Anlo Kingdom comprising 36 villages in this Volta Region. These great men are truly grateful for the work of Hope for Ghana and are ready to help me watch over past projects and plan for the future, pointing me in the direction of Ghana’s greatest need.
I come home very proud of what Hope for Ghana has left behind in Ghana. Hope for Ghana’s libraries and computer labs are thriving and making a great impact on the students, the schools and the community. Felix, a teacher in training who lives in Tegbi, eloquently shared his reflections of the impact of Hope for Ghana’s projects. We leave behind books. We leave behind computers. But most importantly we leave behind hope in a land that mostly thinks about “today” and rarely has the chance to think about their “tomorrow.” My mind is filled with so many ideas for the future of Hope for Ghana. I’m restless with the excitement of what is to come in the near future. Thank you for joining me on this amazing journey and sharing with me the vision of a better tomorrow in Ghana. The best is yet to come …