Jan 18, 2012

Twenty Days....

Yesterday marked the 20th day since my return to Atlanta from my 20 day visit to Kissemah Village outside of Accra, Ghana.  So much has happened since my return: I am blessed by the life experiences that continue to take shape and flight as a result of my trip, as a result of getting to know all the children,  of spending quality time with Renee and Kwame and of getting to know all the wonderful people I met along the way in Kissemah. The notes of encouragement and support I got from family and friends while I was in Ghana continue to warm my heart and keep me focused on helping the children.

I remember the first time I met Renee via a phone conversation; once I had asked all my initial questions about why Ghana, why Kissemah Village, why Mawvuio's, I asked HOW CAN I HELP?

She simply said, "We need help with donations and we need awareness, we need others to know about Mawuvio's and the children".  Up until last summer, most of the support that Mawuvio's has received financially has been via the small community of Goose Lake, Iowa and the surrounding areas which is mostly farming and rural.  Renee's parents have been instrumental in providing Renee with support and encouragement to keep her focused and in Ghana.

The word is indeed spreading.  The University of Ghana has an exchange program with college professors and one such professor that taught in Ghana for six months, got involved in supporting Kwame and Renee, students from his university were also in Ghana on an exchange program, they volunteered at the Mawuvio's school during their six months in Ghana.  Now they have all returned  to the states and are telling the Mawuvio's story.  They are reaching out to programs, clubs, churches and spreading the word about the children, the potential, the energy and excitement in the lives of these children because they have school, they have structure, they have a sense of community that gives them a chance to improve their lives.

I met a man on the plane that I am reaching out to for logistics support on getting donation shipments to Ghana. His company based in USA, does huge business in Ghana, they ship supplies regularly in huge sea land containers, I am asking if we can get a tiny bit of space in the containers to send supplies, shoes and clothing for the children.  Never hurts to ask, the worst that can happen, they say No.

I have amazing friends and co-workers who are interested, who want to know more, who want to do more, so I am embarking on an online fundraiser in partnership with First Giving to BUILD LIVES ONCE BLOCK AT A TIME.  We estimated with the help of the builder, the school needs approximately 28,000 more cement blocks at the cost of FIFTY CENTS per block, I am reaching out to as many people as I know to get funding for all the cement blocks. If you are interested donating funds to purchase 10, 25, or 100 cement blocks please send me an email at elena1025@comcast.net and I can send you all the details.  Donations are tax deductible.

I am meeting with a student body president of a local area high school to see how they can potentially partner with Mawuvio, maybe a sister school, perhaps a pen pal program, maybe it is awareness for the students here locally to learn about Ghana, the people, the culture and Mawuvio's children. I am not sure what will come from the meeting, I am willing to tell the Mawuvio's story as many times as possible, especially to young people.

There are many programs that Mawuvio's can apply for one time grants and on going grants; Google has a grant program for free ads, I am looking into that.  I am writing to CROCS everyday to try and get shoes for all the children; they have a huge presence in Africa, just not in Ghana.  The Omprakash Grant that will support Kaitlyn in her trip to Ghana is August was great news this week.

I am looking for help in getting a video of  Godwin infront of an orthopedic surgeon to get an idea of what can be done to help him with his hands and feet.  Not sure what can be done,  I am trying to at minimum  understand if he can be helped, and the extent of what he needs: surgery, therapy, orthopedic shoes, not sure.

Last Tuesday I began my weekly calls to the children, I call at 6:30am which gets me to the children right at the beginning of their lunch; last Tuesday I got to speak to Elijah, Blessing, Alice, Angela, Gloria, Sherriff and Godwin and the excitement in their voices filled my heart with pure joy. "Madam Afua" they call me, (this means born on Friday) they asked how I was, told me they missed me and said please come visit us again soon.  It was wonderful to speak to them, I look forward to my call with them next week.

I have about 2 hours of candid video I recorded on a FLIP camera, I will work to edit the footage and post on YOUTUBE. There are some great moments that I want you to see for sure.  I will post an update when the video is ready.

If you know of any group, organization, individual who is interested in funding some of the cement blocks please let me know, send me an email and I can send the URL for the online fundraiser.  If you know of a group, organization, club who wants to hear the Mawuvio's story, let me konw, I will be glad to schedule a visit and bring along the videos, photographs and stories.