Sunday, November 25, 2012

Since We've Returned...

For both Molly and I, the fall semester has flown by. We have both written about our experiences since we have returned. Molly is featured on the All People Be Happy website: http://www.allpeoplebehappy.org/VolunteerAward/2012AwardRecipients.aspx. I am on the Washington and Lee website because I was honored with the Johnson Oppotunity Grant to cover most of the cost of this summer: http://www.wlu.edu/x58935.xml. In addition, both of us have been interviewed by our hometown newspapers, which have since run articles about our summer adventure.

Beyond this, we have been engaging individuals in conversations about Ghana, but we have found it difficult to fully convey to others exactly what it was like. We have found it much easier to engage in deeper conversations with people who have been to a third-world country. Though it is hard to bridge the wide gap between the Ghana lifestyle and the W&L lifestyle, we hope to be able to share our experience with groups of people in the future. We would like to do a presentation to students interested in volunteering in third-world countries. We are also looking to present to a class at the local Waddell Elementary School. Since we have returned to America, we  have spoken a lot with fellow student Emmanuel Abebrese, who is originally from Ghana. We have specifically been engaging him on the topic of the church's role in Ghana.

Also, in my International Political Economy class, I have been learning about how developing and "resource rich" countries, such as Ghana, can achieve sustained economic growth. Though Ghana was the world's fastest-growing economy last year due to their recently-developed oil industry, this growth will not be sustainable unless it takes practical measures to ensure that the foreign oil extraction companies do not take advantage of its people. Ghana is set to have its presidential election on Dec. 7, and one of the main issues that the candidates have been discussing is how to encourage foreign oil companies to buy supplies from Ghana and hire Ghanaian workers. In order to make this plan work, the labor force must have the skill levels needed to be employable in the job market. Schools like McColin's Primary School, where we worked this summer, need to be supported. This is the goal of Ghana ACT.

After we left Ghana, McColin's Primary School was kicked off their site, so they resumed classes at the newly-built school. Unfortunately, there was not enough money to finish building the dorm for the orphans, who have been living in Mama Suzie's house for years. Also, Mama Suzie had hoped that there would be enough money to build a library, computer room, kitchen, canteen, and bathroom for the school, but as of now, there is not enough money to do so. Because we could see that the money was going to run short, Molly and I filmed footage for a fundraising video during our last week in Ghana. Now Ghana ACT has put together a fundraising page on Indiegogo: http://www.indiegogo.com/mccolins?c=home. We are hoping to raise $40,000 for all of the various projects at McColin's. There are only 72 days left to fulfill this challenge. The video featured on the website contains the footage that Molly and I filmed. Note the distinct contrast between their educational facilities and those in America. I have been blessed to have attended not just adequate, but first-rate schools that have provided me with everything (and more) that I need to succeed. These children are just as intelligent and have just as much potential as American children, but they will struggle to achieve their potential without basic school facilities and supplies. It is unthinkable that many of these children have never been on the Internet, especially because many jobs will require them to have this knowledge. Also, it is a shame that they do not have a library that allows them to check out books because some of the children told us that they wished they could read books when they were at home. During the lunch break, Molly and I would sometimes unlock the shower in which the worn books were stored so that we could sit with the children and help them to read. The children were always upset when we told them that the break was over and they had to put the books away. I distinctly remember one instance in which a girl, in tears, pleaded with me: "In the name of God, please let me stay and read."

The children at McColin's mean so much to Molly and me. During this holiday season, please consider donating to this worthy cause. I can assure you that every cent of the money donated through this website (http://www.indiegogo.com/mccolins?c=home) will go straight to McColin's.