I just returned from my most recent journey to Ryvanz-Mia Orphanage in Ghana, my third trip to the village of Kpando in the last 12 months. It was New Year’s Eve last year when I first met the 28 children at the orphanage that have changed the course of my life. I came home from that first trip in January 2011 with a new sense of purpose and a sense of hope that translated into a vision and a dream for these orphans. Now a year later I returned to Ghana to see this dream come to life. Words cannot express the joy I experienced over these last few weeks as I saw the realization of this improbable dream.
As soon as I got back to the orphanage I presented the children with brand new books to inaugurate the library. All the books previously donated to the orphanage were also brought down to fill the library. The children crowded into the room to read Dr. Seuss, Curious George, Stuart Little, bible stories and so much more. They love to read by themselves, read out loud to adults or just read over the shoulder of another child. They simply cherish the chance to read.
On December 30, 2011 a truck from a large IT company in Accra pulled up to the orphanage with boxes and boxes of Dell equipment waiting to be unloaded by the children. 6 computers and a printer were waiting for these children. It was a surreal moment watching the children help unload each box off the truck and then help open the boxes in their new computer lab.
One by one over 60 programs were installed by me to create an internet-free learning lab. The new year began with the palpable excitement of children yearning to find their way to one of the 6 computers each day. They sat on each other’s laps to be able to be a part of the experience. At night the children had to be forced to leave the lab to go to bed. Encylopedia Britannica was the biggest hit, as the children searched their way to an infinite array of articles, photos, atlases and videos. Other programs ranged from reading, writing and typing to math, science, art and Christian study. Programs spanned the educational needs of toddlers to teens. You could see their hunger for such an educational opportunity and the gratefulness for their new computer lab.
On January 13, 2012 a formal ribbon-cutting Gift Presentation Ceremony took place at Ryvanz-Mia Orphanage, officially handing The Learning Centre over to the orphanage. Honored guests included the District Chief Executive of Kpando, the Director of Social Welfare and other distinguished members of the community. I had the privilege of delivering a passionate message of hope and opportunity to the children of the orphanage, caretakers and guests. The library and computer lab were then formally presented to Mama Esie and the children. Below are a few excerpts from my address on this very special day. Great thanks goes out to my videographer Wisdom Amanor.
To all who have believed in my mission I thank you from the bottom of my heart. Your contributions allowed my vision to come to life. I thank you for believing in these orphans and believing in their future. You have given them the promise of a brighter future and for that I assure you that they are so grateful. Tonight the children are doing their homework in a library and they are learning from educational software on a computer. Hope for Ghana now looks to the future to expand this library and computer lab, hoping to add books, learning software and more computers over the next year.
I trust that these pictures let you truly understand the gift that your generosity has given to these children. I believe now more than ever that this gift will change their lives forever. There is no picture more beautiful than the picture of a grateful young girl who understands what just happened in her life. So I leave you to hear the beautiful message from Mary.