For many years, David and Lisa would come home after visiting Ghana and share their projects and experiences with me. I was so impressed by the number of ways they were supporting people in the remote upper region of Kongo, Ghana, Africa. Not until coming to Kongo with David and Lisa, did I begin to understand the incredible impact that they have in lifting the hearts, minds and health of the people living in the community. Some of their diverse projects include providing scholarships to over 70 students (total), who may not have had the opportunity otherwise, building schools, providing school lunches for three schools and nutrition for AIDS patients and their children, as well as nutrition for mothers and children who are malnourished, supporting women basket weavers receiving a fair wage for their labor, teaching farmers about sustainable farming practices and much more!

After years of longing to travel to Ghana with Lisa and David, the opportunity finally arrived. David asked me to help co-lead a teacher’s workshop. I was so excited and knew that this was going to be a learning experience for me. David and I worked with Head Master, Martin to plan, organize and teach a two-day workshop. I was excited by the teacher’s enthusiasm and dedication to the students in their classrooms. Teachers have very limited to NO supplies in some cases. No paper, pencils, books, visual aids, hands on manipulatives let alone, electricity and running water. These serious limitations make teaching and learning a challenge. I was fortunate to visit many schools where the children’s eyes would sparkle, and their faces would light up when I pulled out a picture book to read with the class. These children’s thirst for knowledge is so evident! While this was touching to see, my heart aches for all the potential not being tapped into due to the lack of books and materials we take for granted in the United States.

Marilyn (YWF Pres.), Lisa, and Julie meet with Piitanga school teaching staff. Mark (back row) is from the Salem Rotary Club.

While here, I met the President of Yakote Women Farmers, Marilyn who was my charming roommate. Marilyn’s boundless energy as she tackled the many projects she wanted to accomplish, has been very inspiring! Marilyn has worked to provide a community center for the Yakote area. On her visit she had benches made and rebuilt the base for the water tank at the Yakote Community Center, purchased goats for young girls to raise, built and distributed desks to schools, worked with the local organizations to get electricity into the community, started an adult English education class and much more!

I have been filled with awe watching Lisa, David and Marilyn work tirelessly on the behalf of people in need. I know that lives of thousands of Ghanaians have been touched by the love, concern and generosity of these three human beings with the biggest hearts ever!

My first and lasting impression of Ghana was how beautiful and welcoming the people are! I will miss the greeting of every person I walk by, the delightful group of children who would stop by my room for a reading lesson, waking up to the sounds of animals and watching the little piglets romp around in the front yard. I will remember the people I met and my time spent in Ghana forever! Julie