Ghana: John’s visit to meet his four sponsored children

By John Smith, Ghana Child Sponsor

Having regularly written to my four sponsored children in previous years, I was delighted to be able to visit them in 2014. I chose August as this is a dry month in Ghana, and the mildest time of the year, though still on the warm side by Australian standards.

The Capital, Accra, is a vibrant city, with significant construction and infrastructure taking place in recent years. The streets are alive with cars, taxis, small buses packed like sardines, and a mass of street vendors, who not only occupy the side of the road and foot-paths, but move along the slow moving lines of traffic displaying goods. They sell anything from toothbrushes to car jumper leads and everything in between.

On the outskirts of Accra, in World Vision’s Ga West project, I visited my sponsored child, Tairo. He was alert and happy, and had a lovely smile when we first met him. The World Vision team are active in this area, especially in health, education, and schooling. World Vision are respected by the locals, and welcomed enthusiastically.

The next day I travelled to the slave castles, near where my second sponsored child lives. Their history is both interesting and at the same time, depressing. Slave trading is a story of human misery, and although extinguished on the surface, is still alive and happening in many parts of the world today.

A short trip inland from these castles finds me in a community of the Mpohor Wassa East project where my first sponsored child, Sampson, lives. I have met him on two previous occasions. At 17, he has just started at Senior High School as a boarder.

Sampson exhibits all the behaviour of what I have observed before in many children in Africa. These children, as youngsters, are happy and vibrant growing up in their local communities, but their greatest challenge comes when they near the end of their formal schooling. They have reached the age of confusion and on top of this are faced with a decision of remaining in the local community with a restricted traditional lifestyle, or heading for the bustle of the big cities, which can be overwhelming, lonely and foreboding.

 

 

As a sponsor of these children I believe that we need to make a special effort to write and support them in improving their confidence and self-image. I will be doing this in future letters with Sampson.

The next visit was to meet 10-year-old Faustina from the same project, in a remote community in West Ghana. We left the tar road for a dirt road then had to walk by foot through a light rain forested area just to get there.

The extended family made us feel very welcome. Like all my visits, the 2-3 hour event is over before you blink. A hug and farewell happen before you realise that all your questions and observations which you intended to make, have been forgotten in the excitement.

To get full value from your visit, you really should carefully plan in advance what you hope/want to see and know. The World Vision team are always happy to take on camera duties on your behalf. The photos taken can then be posted back to your sponsored child in letters over the next year or so.

My next visit was to meet Shedrack. He is a lovely six-year-old boy who was dressed in his best clothes. He looked very smart, as did his family, who were dressed in their best traditional outfits. The whole community was there - they are generous in their praises of both the sponsors and World Vision staff.

Finally, I fly out of Accra to Bolgatanga in Northern Ghana, eventually reaching the border with Burkina-Faso where the World Vision Talensi-Nabdam project is. Like all World Vision teams, they make you feel very welcome. They show you their headquarters and field offices, explain what is happening in the project area, and often take you to local markets, which you would otherwise never see.

I had expected Bolgatanga to be very dry, desolate, and hot, but instead was greeted by tar highways, and lovely green fields of small, and broad-acre farming of rice, corn and cotton. My sponsored child, Godswill, rushed out to meet us. He guided us through the green fields to the community where he and his family live.

I encourage everyone, if possible, to visit their sponsored child. It means so much to them!! The Australian World Vision team are experts in taking you through the formalities, and assisting with accommodation. To sponsor a child is one thing, but a visitation will really cement your relationship, and add that extra dimension to your experience.

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