It is raining in Ghana today. We have been here for about four weeks, and it seems as though we have been rained on almost every other day. Sometimes the rain is just a light mist, but at other times it has come down in a torrent, and often includes thunder and lightning. Thank goodness there are cement troughs built around the newer houses here so that they don’t get flooded. Many of the older homes and apartments do get flooded on occasion. One of our friends here in Ghana had a flood in her apartment a couple of months ago, which soaked and ruined a lot of her furnishings and personal belongings. We were fortunate to be able to help her get some new furniture so that future floods do not do as much damage.
Our work with Tender Hopes Crisis Centers, which is the purpose of our trip to Ghana, is moving right along. We spent the first couple of weeks finding and interviewing the girls. It was an interesting experience to talk with them. In addition to getting to know them better and seeing where some of them live, it was extremely helpful to learn where they are at in their training and education. The majority of the thirteen girls we currently serve in our program are learning to wash or to braid hair, while a couple of them are in sewing programs and one is doing a wedding planning program. The training programs are set up so that we pay the trainer at the beginning of the program and the girls work without compensation as they learn their trade. We also provide them with uniforms, if needed, and all equipment for the training. The programs are approximately three years in length. While they are training we give them 10 Ghana Cedis a day to purchase their lunch or other food. The US dollar equivalent is about $2.25 per day.
Most of the girls have at least one small child, and the majority of them live with relatives. We have been able to rent a couple of small apartments which some of the girls live in. We got a chance to go into the homes of a few of the girls, and it is astonishing to see the humble circumstances that some of these girls and their families live in. Most places have a cement floor, but don’t always have a mattress to sleep on. Cooking quarters are usually outside and often shared with the neighbors. Restrooms are often shared as well, or have to be flushed with water that has been hauled in from a well. A lot of the community wells have been modernized with electricity, but there are still some hand drawn wells.
In addition to interviewing the girls individually, Heidi is working with each of them addressing their emotional needs. She also got all the girls together two weeks ago on a Sunday and talked to them about getting rid of the burdens they have carried with them from the past. This coming Sunday she has scheduled them all to come to our Ghana residence for a presentation related to personality types. Her hope in working with the girls directly is to teach them to understand themselves and how they can improve their circumstances. We also feed them when they come on Sunday.
We have used some of our THCC funding to purchase some food for the girls, pay for their transportation costs when they come to meet us, and we give them some additional money for their own use. Heidi gave one of the girls we interviewed some extra money to purchase some new clothing and shoes as hers were worn out.
Michael, one of our board members and a native of Ghana, was here with us for the first couple of weeks. He was indispensable in assisting us in lining things up, driving us where we needed to be, and assisting us with other needs we had. We could not accomplish the mission of our organization without his help. It is his home we are staying at and for that we are extremely grateful.
Overall, we feel blessed to be here in Ghana. It is definitely different than our cushioned lives in the United States, but it give you a feeling of joy to be able to serve. And there is nothing quite like the smile of an old Ghanaian woman after you press a coin into her hand. We just hope that we can make a difference in the lives of these 13 girls as we spend the next couple of months working with them.